On the morning of 16 October 2018, “To the Era”, the third round of “Echo of Civilization”, commenced at the Taoxichuan Art Museum in Jingdezhen. It was jointly hosted by the Central Academy of Fine Arts and Jingdezhen Ceramic Culture Tourism Group, featuring 117 pieces (sets) of Chinese paintings, drawings, oil paintings, prints, watercolors, sculptures and photography by senior professors from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, teachers and alumni since 1978. It is intended to showcase the development and creation of Chinese contemporary portrait art that has inherited Chinese and foreign traditions, reflecting realistic life and embodying the spirit of the times, paying tribute to this era as this year witnesses the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening up. This exhibition is also a major thematic show of the Autumn Air Fair for the Taoxichuan Spring & Autumn Air Fair, and the “72 Ji Young Artists Program—the First Invitational Exhibition” is being held during the same period.
The creation of “portrait” has always been the most important subject of artistic expression. From ancient tomb murals, portraits of emperors and heroes, religious supporters, literati and intellectuals with noble interests and character to contemporary multi-dimensional figure creations, “portraits” carry a moral etiquette and the rules, aesthetic orientation, cultural representations and social themes of a particular period. By observing a portrait creation, people do not only know a specific figure, but also understand the spiritual appearance of the era and space in which the figure was located, and the portrait is a mirror of the times. President of Central Academy of Fine Arts Fan Di’an wrote a preface for the exhibition, and he mentions that, “Portrait art is a specialized subject of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, and it has accumulated many important works and creative experiences of famous teachers. This exhibition has condensed the outstanding tradition of Central Academy of Fine Arts, and the present development. In face of the figures that have emerged during history and reality, the artists observe their own thoughts, drawing their shapes, shaping their souls, and have shaped typical figures in typical environments. These portraits which have included the unity of form and spirit are delicately made, to showcase the academic depth of the research in fine arts by Central Academy of Fine Arts, highlighting the humanistic spirit of several generations of artists who have grasped the rhythm of history and carefully observed the times.”
In celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, “To the Era—Echo of Civilization” is also an important part of its series of activities. The Assistant to President of Central Academy of Fine Arts Pan Chenghui was invited by “To the Era—Echo of Civilization” to deliver a speech at the opening ceremony, and it is “a declaration that pays tribute to the times and the classics”. The exhibition is designed to tell stories of Chinese people and to depict the spirit of the times of Chinese development in the form of language used for modeling.
“To the Era—Echo of Civilization” exhibition was on show at the galleries on the ground floor and second floor of the Taoxichuan Art Museum in Jingdezhen, and it makes use of the duplex building to arrange the works, so that the exhibition seems to be more dynamic. Since it was founded 100 years ago, the Central Academy of Fine Arts has created a large number of high-quality works of art in the teaching and creation of portraits. In the exhibition, we can see portraits of modern celebrities drawn by the artists from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, such as a series of figure drawings created by Dai Shihe, including “Guan Liang”, “Lin Fengmian” (2002), “The Young Luo Gongliu” and “Wu Changshuo”, the sculpture of “Yuan Longping” created by Lyu Pinchang, the sculpture of “Huang Binhong” created by Mr. Sun Jiabo, Wang Yingsheng’s work in ink and color on silk, “University Series—Cai Yuanpei”, etc.; in addition, it also presents portraits of ordinary figures, such as the image of ethnic minority people that appear in Sun Jingbo’s “Tibetan Girl”, as well as ordinary workers, artists’ friends or their self-portraits. It can be said that these works do not only depict well-known Chinese heroes and high-minded celebrities, but also the images of ordinary people who have dreams. Their experiences, actions, achievements and contributions constitute a vivid history, and these images are closely associated with the development of the country and the nation. It has established new cultural ideals and artistic values, and has constituted fresh and vivid portraits of the times since the reform and opening up was carried out 40 years ago.
Ever since the reform and opening up was initiated 40 years ago, several generations of artists have collectively portrayed the images of contemporary Chinese people, and told stories of contemporary Chinese people, reflecting the spiritual appearance of contemporary Chinese people, and embodying the echo of civilization through the art of the portrait. It uses traditional portraits to pay tribute to the era, and viewers can read stories and listen to the “echo of civilization” that resonates with the times when they are appreciating these works. As President of the Central Academy of Fine Arts Fan Di’an said, “Based on the present new era, the essence of portrait art is not confined to the portraying of shapes any more, as it is about the portrayal of reality, portrayal of the mind and portrayal of the spirit. There are not only visual narratives of social and historical traces, as well as national memories, and people who are also touched, inspired and stimulated by them.” Seen from this perspective, it is of the values of the era that bring the exhibition to Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province, on the occasion of the centenary celebration of Central Academy of Fine Arts.
The exhibition remains on view till 20 December 2018.
Photo and text by Lin Jiabin/CAFA ART INFO
Translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO