Organized by the Central Academy of Fine Arts, China Artists Association, National Museum of China, China National Academy of Painting, co-organized by China Muban Foundation, The International Copyright Exchange (ICE), Heart Sun Town Art Management Agency, Notations of Time: Chen Qi Art Exhibition is to be presented from October 18 through to October 29 at National Museum of China, Gallery S1.
Chen Qi is a contemporary artist of woodblock printing endowed with the most creative vitality, holding an iconic stand in the history of Chinese contemporary woodblock printing. In trying to get rid of the general paradigm of traditional woodblock printing before the 1980s, he established an independent, complete technical language system for his woodblock production. During the three decades of his artistic career, Chen Qi effectively transfers the traditional to contemporary art, to become one of the most successful explorers who practices the “contemporary transformation of traditional art”, meanwhile he became a leading contemporary artist in China. Wu Changjiang, vice chairman of Chinese Artists Association once commented on Chen Qi as follows, “Chen Qi is the hallmark of contemporary woodblock printing artists. He started to create woodblock printing in the 1980s, and he persisted in producing lots of masterpieces, not only does he accomplish the ‘abutment’ between the traditional and the contemporary, he also provides an important orderliness with his case study and thinking in the matter of creations and studies on contemporary printmaking.”
Chen Qi makes woodblock printing, this ancient art form, become revived within the contemporary art world, so that the unique artistic character of woodblock printing can be re-established, full of infinite possibilities of derivation and transformation. In such an active exploring process, he develops from specializing in traditional woodblock printing to creative cross-media expression, while he expands the artistic bondage that woodblock printing is restricted by within Chinese ink painting and modernism. As Dr. J. S. Edgren, Director of Chinese Rare Books Project, Princeton University, has said, “Chen Qi’s art is creation, innovation, but I still look upon it as the inheritance of the long history of woodblock printing. He insists on the tradition of woodblock printing in his work.” In addition to innovation of the traditional woodblock printing, Chen Qi also incorporates installation, video, new media, etc into his own category, making them a more diverse creative medium except for woodblock printing.
Introduction to the exhibition
Notations of Time: Chen Qi Art Exhibition will feature more than 60 works, which is the largest solo exhibition of Chen Qi to date. Themed “Notations of Time”, its title comes from his most representative work he has created recently. Focusing on this series of work, the exhibition extends Chen Qi’s exploration into the relationship between art concepts, materials, techniques and individualized expression; on the other hand, “Notations of Time” takes “time” as its clue, concisely give a brief account of several important stages of Chen Qi’s artistic development as well as related works. Covering his representative works since the end of 1980s such as “Ming Style”, “Qin”, “Lotus”, “Interpretation”, “Dreaming of Butterfly”, “Water” and other works familiar with the academic world, his latest works created on the theme of “Notations of Time” over the past three years will be highlighted in the exhibition.
The diversity is the most noteworthy highlight of this exhibition. From the forms of works to be exhibited, there are both the simple display of woodblock printing and the three-dimensional space installations, as well as an interactive software display. The 4m×14m huge woodblock printing “2012”which took him 2 years to produce will detach the audience from reality in a rare large scale printing process, creating a sense of intriguing worthlessness, triggering visitors to think about the self and existence. The “Notations of Time” handmade book series materializes “time” into art objects and images, rendered in the form of books, thus the “time” has become a palpable thing that visitors can watch, moreover, it becomes images you can experience and think about. “Notations of Time” Cross-media series as the extension burst out after Chen’s handmade books, including cloisonné enamel utensils, Phoebe Gu Qin and other materials Chen Qi derived from the signals of Notations of Time. Therefore, he created “Rainbow”, “Chu Ci” and other series of work, endowing objects that have an useful or ornamental value with a deeper level of artistic connotation. It is particularly worth mentioning that the interactive new media display specially produced for this exhibition, makes the audience recreate and interpret this handmade series of work through a touching experience, both distinctive and unique.
The core of his work
The excavation of the spiritual world of oneself as well as thinking on universal feelings has always been the concern of Chen Qi. Based on this, his art has gradually shown a new trend of development since 2000, on the one hand, his performance in painting turns from realism to abstraction; on the other hand, he tries to diversify in the creative approaches. As far as “Water”, “Notations of Time” and other series of work, Chen Qi’s expression of creative thoughts is no longer bound by regionalism, his quest for the ultimate meaning of life, a common topic, has become the core substance of his work.
“Actually, there has always been this kind of surreal conception of concrete objects in Chen Qi’s works, from his antique musical instruments to his lotus flowers and butterflies and on to this series on water. His intent is to grasp and carve out a concrete ‘beauty’ from a concrete object, and he is even more intent on transcending this concrete beauty of the concrete objects to express something hazy, profound and boundless. This thing may be a concept, a cultural connotation or an absentminded spiritual experience. As for his latest work, Notations of Time (2009- ), I believe that it is a massive turning point in his creative thinking, a shift from the consideration of formless concepts within tangible things towards the probing of timeless, formless concepts to reach a concrete, physical form, “said curator Wang Huangsheng in the preface through his clear and unique sorting of Chen Qi’s art concepts.
Whether the creation of large-scale woodblock printing, or handmade books, or cross-media works, from creative idea to development of programs, even to every aspect of the actual operation, all were personally operated by Chen Qi who was involved in them and accomplished them independently by himself. The curator Wang Huangsheng thinks this is a kind of grasping process, and every detail the artist experiences in the production, the delicate relationship among hands, eyes, and emotions will gradually breed in the work. As Chen Qi said, “My work germinates, continuously injected with new sparks of inspiration in the creating process, that is a fascinating work.” The precious thing about art, lies in the subtle correspondence between the work and people, which originates from the artist’s understanding and perception of the nature of art, is a kind of indescribable feeling outside of technology. Therefore, this recurrent hands-on approach has become a unique charm of Chen Qi’s art.
As a matter of fact, whether it is figurative or abstract, print or other forms of media, many years of artistic creation by Chen Qi gradually shows a clear clue, which is the embodiment of traditional cultural ideals and oriental wisdom. Different from the vigorous social interventions in different ways of most contemporary artists, Chen Qi has inhered in the contemporary in a more dependent and individual way, with this attitude being perhaps the most precious value of “contemporary”.
About the artist
Chen Qi, Doctor of Fine Arts. Born in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in 1963. Professor of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Secretary-general of Printmaking Institute of China National Academy of Painting, Member of Graphic Arts Commission of Chinese Artists Association, Member of Chinese Artists Association. His work has successively won the Bronze Awards and Honorable Mentions at the 7th, 8th and 9th National Fine Arts Exhibition, Gold Award at the 13th Graphic Arts Exhibition as well as an Outstanding Award at the 5th Beijing International Art Biennale. His monographs include Printmaking Techniques, Divine Engravers and Masters of Painting – Comparative Studies on the Chinese and Western Printmaking Forms Before the 20th Century, etc.
His public collections include China National Art Museum, Shanghai Museum, Guangdong Museum, Art Museum of Jiangsu Province, Guan Shanyue Art Museum, Shen Zhen Art Museum, British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London, New York Public Library, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, European Woodcut Foundation etc.
About the exhibition
Curator: Wang Huangsheng
Duration: 18 October – 29 October, 2013
Opening: 18 October, 3:00pm
Venue: National Museum of China, Gallery S1
Hosts: Central Academy of Fine Arts, China Artists Association, National Museum of China, China National Academy of Painting
Co-organizers: China Muban Foundation, The International Copyright Exchange (ICE), Heart Sun Town Art Management Agency
Supporters: China Original Prints Trading Platform, Beijing Evening News, Shanghai Securities News, Xinhua Daily, Modern Express
Courtesy of the artist and CAFA ART INFO.