I want through art to settle down and get on with my pursuits, to express my feelings. Nothing else can help me to settle down and convey my thoughts except for art.
– Zhang Ping
On the morning of March 28, 2016, “The Adamantine Soul – A Zhang Ping Retrospective” grandly opened at CAFA Art Museum. The exhibition unfolds around the 50 year creative career of Zhang Ping, researching the vein of the era, to feature a selection of more than 60 works of classical representation created by the painter in different periods for the public. The opening ceremony was presided over by Deputy Dean of the School of Chinese Painting, CAFA Yao Mingjing, President of CAFA Fan Di’an, Dean of School of Chinese Painting at CAFA Chen Ping, Party Secretary of School of Chinese Painting at CAFA Yu Guanghua, Director of CAFA Art Museum Wang Huangsheng, former deputy party secretary of CAFA Wang Hongjian, President of Li Keran Academy of Painting Li Geng, Vice President of China National Academy of Arts Tian Liming, Deputy Dean of the Institute of Chinese Painting at the China National Academy of Arts Xu Jun, Director of Yan Huang Art Museum Cui Xiaodong, Zhang Ping’s wife Wu Yingzhou, as well as Zhang Ping’s old classmates and colleagues Chen Mou, Wang Tongren, and his students Wu Lizhu and Li Xianting who also attended the opening ceremony of the exhibition.
Fan Di’an addressed the opening ceremony and said that, throughout the developmental history of Chinese fine arts, the master Zhang Ping had made an immense contribution. He learned Chinese painting in the 1950s, and started to create in the 1960s, Zhang Ping made a lifelong contribution to the promotion of traditional Chinese painting, especially the creation of Chinese landscape painting. “After Zhang Ping passed away, we believe that we should have an in-depth research and promotion of the old master who was indifferent to fame and wealth, which fully embodies what we attach great importance to in the artistic spiritual work of the older generation, as the support of the cultural tradition.”
Then Chen Ping, Li Geng, Liu Rong, Wu Yingzhou respectively addressed the opening ceremony. On the occasion of the first anniversary of the death of Zhang Ping, the exhibition is held, and Wu Yingzhou complied with the last wish of her husband to donate 8 works to CAFA Art Museum for the permanent collection of the museum, including the classic works created in his later years, “Pillar”,“Daybreak” and so on. This donation not only enriches the collections of the museum, but also offers the educational circles a convenient condition for an in-depth academic research of Zhang Ping in the future.
The Early Creation “Song of Mountains and Rivers” Began to Display His Talent
Zhang Ping created a set of paintings “Song of Mountains and Rivers” in the early years, when they were displayed at the Meridian Gate of the Imperial Palace, he began to display his talent in the painting circle, and the work was collected by CAFA during the same year. During this period, he also created some works of epochal character, including “Mountains are as Vast as Sea, the Setting Sun is as Red as Blood” and “Someone Suddenly Reports That People Surrender to The Tigers” in the collection of the National Art Museum of China, the painter blended Mao Zedong’s meaning of poems into the creation of landscape painting.
In the 1970s, the country created a hot wave of industrial construction. How to integrate the modern industrial landscape such as Red Flag Canal, the Artificial Milky Way, Longyang Hydropower Station with the language of traditional brushand ink art, while being harmoniously and uniformly presented in the creation,were the subject of the times which the artist was required to deal with. It features the works “Red Flag Canal • Taihang Milky Way”, “Wuxi Hydrological Station”, “Artificial Milky Way Crosses Lianshui”, which were the exploration and trials of the painter in this period.
Enter the 1980s, on the one hand, the artist continued to deepen the creative subject, went to Hukou to sketch in 1982, created a giant painting of the national spiritual temperament entitled “Yellow River”. Then he further deepened it on the basis of the “Yellow River”, created a companion piece “Cradle”. The artist moved towards the abstract from the realism, through the repeated groping on the same topic, in order to more accurately grasp the pulse of the times behind the object. On the other hand, the artist also carried on a comprehensive innovation in creative techniques, through the works such as “Morning Frost”,“Longyangxia”, “One Thousand Years”, “The Snow Night” and “Interesting Winter Figure”, the artist further explored the possibility of the combination of color, ink and glue plus alum through the technical innovation to achieve the innovation of the creative features.
Revolution in His Later Years, Exploration of the Language of Brush and Ink
On the basis of the accumulation of early years and the 1980s, the creation of the artist made a qualitative leap in the 1990s. His work “Standing Erectly” won the only gold prize by the National Art Exhibition in 1992, the painter was initially inspired by the song of the Asian Games entitled “The First High Mountain”, he chose Mount Everest as the painting model at the beginning, then after the fourdrafts, the painter put aside the constraint of the specific image of the Mount Everest, but created a mountain by himself which absorbed the strong black-and-white opposition of the painting technique of snow mountain, in order to highlight the feeling of light, the large, abrupt, vigorous and firm rocks face the audience head-on, so that the audience can feel the deep and ethereal adamantine realm.
The creation of the 1990s renders a rigorous, full, dignified artistic realm of abroad and deep imposing manner, after the painter experienced the boundless and lonely nature of the artistic pursuit.
Seminar: The Scholars Discussed Zhang Ping’s Art Creation andTeaching of Landscape Painting
After the opening ceremony ended, all the honored guests and scholars walked to the VIP room of the museum, to attend the seminar “Inheritance and Innovation – Zhang Ping’s Teaching of Landscape Painting and Retrospect of His Creation”. Deputy Dean of School of Chinese Painting at CAFA Li Yang and Prof. Yu Yang from CAFA hosted the seminar, Wu Yingzhou, Wang Baokang, Wang Hongjian, Li Xianting, Hu Bo, Li Chunhai, Zhao Lizhi, Gong Chanxing, Wang Tongren, Yang Huilai, Zhong Jie, Yang Gengxin, Zhang Jiping, Liu Keming, Chen Ping, Cao Qinghui, Chen Mou, Fu Yixin, Wang Chao, Wang Aihong, Zhou Yulan, Sun Meilan, Wu Lizhu and other scholars attended the discussion.
The seminar was mainly unfolded around Zhang Ping’s conceptual achievement of creation and the teaching of landscape painting, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the death of Zhang Ping, his former colleagues, friends, students and family members attended the discussion, from different identities to talk about the stories of Zhang Ping, and the more important thing they conducted the discussion on the creative works and artistic techniques of Zhang Ping.
The exhibition continues to May 3, 2016.
Text by Lin Jiabin, Photo by Hu Sichen/CAFA ART INFO
Translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO