On the afternoon of April 19, “Yang Xianrang: Surges at the Bottom of an Artist’s Dream” – “Yang Xianrang Collection” a new book sharing meeting was held in the VIP room of the CAFA Art Museum, and it was presided over by Prof. Xu Bing from the Central Academy of Fine Arts. The new book meeting attracted many honored guests to participate in it, including many professors from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, such as Zhan Jianjun, Yuan Baolin, Li Huaji, Su Gaoli, Chen Wenji, Song Xiewei, Yi Ying, You Jingdong, as well as scholars, artists and professors from the circles of art and culture such as Xu Qingping, Fu Yixin, Huang Yongsong, Huang Suning, Li Zhaozhong. Fan Di’an, President of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, who was unable to attend the event but made a special video to express his friendship and respect for Yang. As the representative of the organizer of the event and the publisher of the new book and President of Guangxi Normal University Press Group Jiang Gewen also attended the meeting and delivered a speech.
Born in 1930, 86-year-old Yang Xianrang was the first generation of art workers cultivated by the People’s Republic of China. He is not only a practitioner of the art practices for new China, but he was also a witness of a century’s history of art in China. At the meeting, he brought the four volumes of “Yang Xianrang Collection” which is written on his own artistic experiences and emotions. Use the micro-historical method to enter the public vision, together with his peers he explores the glorious history of Chinese art and talked about the old days together with friends.
Fan Di’an said that the publication of Yang Xianrang become a hot spot for the social and cultural life during the previous stage of the publication of the Yang Xianrang Collection. Yang is an artist and an art educator, who has made a lot of contributions to the long-term artistic exploration and educational career, he is especially concerned with Chinese folk art, the protection of traditional cultural heritage, as well as offering an input to the talent that is being cultivated for the Central Academy of Fine Arts. The meeting shared the four volumes of the “Yang Xianrang Collection”, which is divided into 4 parts, including “I Come from the Island”, “Three People Walk Together”, “Surges at the Bottom of a Dream” and “We Take the Initiative”, thus offering a panoramic reproduction of the legendary artistic life of Yang Xianrang, who is one of the first generation of artists in the new China. As it is full of emotion and historical memories, the four volumes are both the personal histories, and also a micro survey of people and the history of Chinese art over the one hundred years, so it is of an high historical value to the art world.
The sharing meeting unfolded around three aspects. Firstly, “Past Events Have Faded like a Puff of Smoke: Walking Together with Teachers and Friends, Shaping of the Times.” Yang Xianrang’s life is closely related to the changes in contemporary Chinese art, and he has been acquainted with the artists who have “shaped for the times”, such as Xu Beihong, Qi Baishi, Li Kuchan, Huang Yongyu, Guo Lanying and Guo Shuzhen, and also cultivated students with excellent artistic contributions including Xu Bing, Chen Danqing, Chen Wenji and Lv Shengzhong. At the sharing meeting, Yang brought together good teachers and helpful friends to walk together with him through his life, immersed in the world described by the Yang Xianrang collection, recalling the people from the past and old events. Secondly, “Went to the People: the First Department of Folk Art”. This section of the discussion deeply unfolded around Yang Xianrang’s extraordinary experiences and achievements in the creation of folk art and personnel training. Yang Xianrang once taught at the Department of Printmaking, the Central Academy of Fine Arts, where he directed the New Year paintings and comic books and created the “Department of Folk Art”, he raised folk art to a level of observation, study and creation in the academy system. He has even led teams to visit the Yellow River fourteen times, and discovered Ku Shulan, Su Lanhua, Pan Jingle from the rich folk areas, which can be described as re-writing the history of Chinese art. At last, it is “Distant Gaze”, which mainly unfolded around the Chinese and Western art concept. Yang when overseas promoted Chinese folk art after he retired, and proposed Chinese art and Chinese artists should “take the initiative” after observing and comparing Western and Chinese arts. At the sharing meeting, he also expressed this idea. He believes that Chinese art is not inferior, refusing self-pity, and Chinese artists should neither blindly believe in the West, nor lose themselves in it. “We Take the Initiative” as the embodiment and spirit for the artistic subjectivity.
At the sharing meeting, the readers had a meaningful exchange with the famous artists, and witnessed the changes over the century of the history of art in China through the stories.
Text edited by Lin Jiabin, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO
Photo by Hu Sichen/CAFA ART INFO
About the Books
“Yang Xianrang Collection”
“I Come from the Island”, “Three People Walk Together”, “Surges at the Bottom of a Dream”, “We Take the Initiative”.
Author: Yang Xianrang
Publisher: Guangxi Normal University Press
Publication Date: November 11, 2016
Won the annual honorable book (art) by “The Beijing News” in 2016
About the Author
Yang Xianrang was born in the Horse Breeding Island of Muping, Shandong province in 1930, and moved to North Korea with his family in 1939, he returned to China and went to school in 1944, he graduated from the Department of Painting, Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1952. He once served as the editor and creator of the People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, a researcher of the Lab at the Ministry of Culture, a member of the Professional Title Evaluation Committee at the Ministry of Culture, Deputy Director of the Printmaking Art Committee at the China Artists Association, Vice President of the China Institute of Folk Art, Director of the Department of Folk Arts at the Central Academy of Fine Arts and professor. He once won the cultural award from the Department of Asian Art in the University of Houston, the United States, the Lifetime Achievement Award of Art by the American Chinese Education Foundation, the 11th Performing Arts Achievement Award by the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, his works are collected by the British Museum in the U.K., National Art Museum of China, and in private collections. His publications include “Walking along the Yellow River 14 Times: Investigation Report of the Folk Art in the Yellow River Basin in the 1980s”, “Xu Beihong: Art History and Emotional World”, “Chinese Local Art” and “50 Years of Friendship between My Wood Carving Knife and Me: Creative History of My Wood Engraving History”, “Stories of My Traveling Abroad”, “Artistic Notes”, and so on.
About the Publication
Four volumes of the “Yang Xianrang Collection” panoramically reproduces the legendary artistic life of Yang Xianrang, who is one of the first generation of artists in the new China. Yang is warm and open-minded, has always been indifferent to fame and fortune throughout his life and his writing is also full of the feeling of life, frankly expressing himself, which is plain, vivid and true. Being full of emotion and with historical memories, the four volumes are both the personal histories and also a micro survey of people and the history of Chinese art over the one hundred years, so it is of an high historical value of art.
Introduction to the Four Volumes
“I Come from the Island” takes the author’s growth and family changes as the main theme to write about his family, friends and relatives, teachers, hometown and the related events. In the “Three People Walk Together”, it describes the people from cultural and artistic circles and the related events, recording a number of artists who “shaped the times”. “Surges at the Bottom of a Dream” is the result of Yang Xianxiang’s thinking with the research and summarizing of Chinese folk art. “We Take the Initiative” is Yang Xianrang’s thoughts on the artistic ontology before and after going abroad.