02 View of the opening ceremony of “Spirit of Pristine” Chen Jian Paper Works Solo Exhibition

Hosted by China Artists Association and the Department of Culture in Hubei Province, organized by Hubei Museum of Art and the Watercolor Painting Art Committee of the China Artists Association, “Spirit of Pristine” Chen Jian Paper Works Solo Exhibition opened at Hubei Museum of Art on March 28. There are more than 70 paperworks in watercolor which were recently created on the theme of the Tajik people in the Pamirs and sea landscapes of the Jiaodong Peninsula, showcasing the latest art exploration by Chen Jian who is the most influential watercolor painter in China today.

Chen Jian’s watercolor painting has changed the superficial nature of sketching of general watercolor paintings, by presenting a stronger creativity, where the creativity obviously comes from his feelings of long-term infiltration in the Pamirs, together with the Tajik nation, where almost all the villagers sustain his spirit, it is the spirit of the pristine that sublimates his paintings. It is rare that a painter considers a plateau as his origin of spirit. However Chen Jian communicates with them and describes their images with the piety of a religious believer. Chen Jian always tells me that you will forgive everything when you arrive at the place; only when you get there,will you find the sincerity and trust that current society lacks. Purification is the mental nourishment he gets from the plateau. Viewing from this perspective, contemporary art including watercolor lacks purification of the soul. Therefore, currently it is a tilt on “how to paint” that seems to be more important than “painting what”, but is actually restricted by “painting what”. But it is not just the material and theme performed by the screen, but the “spirit” and “realm” behind the screen, while the purified spirit and realm sublimates the figures and landscape under his brush.

– By Shang Hui, Executive Editor in Chief of the “Arts” magazine

The recent exploration and practice of Chen Jian during the creation of watercolor paintings, Wu Changjiang, Party Secretary and Vice Chairmen of China Artists Association said he focused on the Tajik People in the Pamirs of Xinjiang, grasping the inner world and spiritual level of the characters, which is reflected and reconstructed in his sketches and creations.

Zhu Di, Director of the Department of Art of the Ministry of Culture said that the advantages of the characteristics of language of watercolor painting fully played in these sketches and the creations of figure paintings are on the theme of the minorities, and he did well in combining these characteristics with the expression of the objects, using a skillful technique, and it was rare that he injected the humanities in behind the vision, so that we could see the shadow of the artist.

Professor Tan Ping, Vice President of CAFA said, Chen Jian’s works reflected the dual personalities of the artist. Figure paintings originated from the visual perception of the world, while the painting themed on the sea focused on the retrospect and introspection.

For his creation, Chen said: I paint my words, reflecting the images in my mind. I have never deliberately searched for the imagery or skill, but I gradually find a way to return to myself during painting, and forming my own artistic style. Maybe someone thinks the subject of the folk customs, character and landscape isn’t “contemporary”, and watercolor is not a “contemporary” material. But I think it is a very debatable issue as to how to define “contemporary”. I believe, as long as the artist is true and profound, as long as you truly reflect yourself, it is “contemporary”.

About the artist

Born in Qingdao in 1959, Chen Jian is currently the Deputy Director and General Secretary of the Watercolor Painting Art Committee of the China Artists Association, Executive Editor of “Chinese Contemporary Watercolor”, Deputy Director of Beijing Artists Association Watercolor Painting Art Committee, Vice Chairman of Beijing Watercolor Painting Society.

About the exhibition

Curator: Fu Zhongwang

Academic Director: Shang Hui

Duration: March 28 – April 13, 2014

Opening: at 10:30 on March 28, 2014

Venue: Hall 1, 2 at the Hubei Museum of Art in Wuhan

Courtesy of the artist and Hubei Museum of Art, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO.


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