Oil painting is one of the earliest disciplines established by CAFA. Over the past century, generations of master painters from CAFA have recorded the history through creation, and have expressed the epochal evolution so that a large number of classic works have remained as a legacy, which constitutes a collective memory of China. At the same time, the teachers from the Department of Oil Painting actively explored teaching methods and created a system in the studio, so that oil painting, this foreign subject has greatly developed within the academic field in China. It is the 100th anniversary of the founding of CAFA in 2018, and it is of great practical significance to systematically observe the creation and teaching of oil painting in this historical node, to review and study the teaching cases of the studio. On 12 October 2018, “The Return of Significance—The Art by the Faculty of the Department of Oil Painting of CAFA in the Progressive Tense” which was hosted by CAFA and organized by Department of Oil Painting of CAFA and CAFA Art Museum, and “Discipline with Master’s Dignity—Teaching & Research Exhibition of No.3 Studio of the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA” which was hosted by CAFA and organized by School of Plastic Arts of CAFA and CAFA Art Museum, commenced at the same time. “The Return of Significance” is a comprehensive presentation of the recent creations by 22 teachers from the Department of Oil Painting, and “Discipline with Master’s Dignity” focuses on the historical context of No.3 Studio of the Department of Oil Painting which formed a case study on the teaching of the studio.
The two exhibitions are displayed at the same time on the third floor of the CAFA Art Museum, presenting two spaces for spectators to think of oil painting in China and oil painting in CAFA. At the opening ceremony, President of CAFA Fan Di’an delivered a speech, and summarized the theme of the exhibition and three significant points: social significance, oil painting was introduced to China more than one hundred years ago and it has become a new academic knowledge system, showing Chinese society that has turned foreign art into an expression with a Chinese form; academic significance, CAFA always pays attention to the ontological research of oil painting language and pays attention to the in-depth study of the history and skills of oil painting, so that there is a presentation of a variety of styles and languages of oil painting pursued by several generations of oil painter, CAFA is also a leader in the development of oil painting in China; cultural significance, rather than a simple painting species and skill, oil painting can be used as a cultural expression. Therefore, several generations of oil painters from CAFA have always maintained cultural feelings, cultural ideals and cultural concerns. It is through themes, subject matter, compositions and styles that they are able to embody excellent traditions, so that oil painting has become a major symbol of current cultural development.
The No.3 Studio of the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA, was established by Dong Xiwen. With the efforts of several generations, it has become the main strength in promoting the development of Chinese oil painting art and to form the “Chinese School of Oil Painting Art”. “Discipline with Master’s Dignity—Teaching & Research Exhibition of No.3 Studio of the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA” features more than 60 pieces by the teachers and students from different periods since the establishment of Dong Xiwen Studio in 1959, this forms the three parts of the exhibition including “National Manner and Chinese Style”, “The Chinese School Constructing the Oil Painting Art”, and “Based on the Tradition to Confront the Contemporary”. It is through the reviewing and arranging of the works, historical photographs and teaching literature of different periods that we are able to outline the history of the teaching and creation. Former Director of the No.3 Studio of the Department of Oil Painting Prof. Zhan Jianjun delivered a speech and reviewed the history of the studio at the opening ceremony. Zhan said that the studio has always persisted in teaching students to become artists with open minds and a broad artistic vision, embracing different interests in art, as well as firmly grasping the noumenon of oil painting art language. The curator Tang Yu also said that “Discipline with Master’s Dignity” is a portrayal and emphasis on the spiritual inheritance of the No.3 Studio of the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA. The inheritance of the No.3 Studio is not a slogan or the inheritance of style, but is reflected in the teaching actions at various periods, and is reflected in the words and actions of all master painters.
Different from the “Discipline with Master’s Dignity—Teaching & Research Exhibition of No.3 Studio of the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA” focuses on the historical dimension, “The Return of Significance” pays attention to the creative status and thoughts of the teachers from the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA, and studies the current significance of oil painting as a painting. As the Director of the School of Plastic Arts, CAFA, and Director of the Department of Oil Painting Ma Lu said, it was also necessary to focus on the status quo and to create a new future while people reviewed the teaching tradition of the studio. Over the past one hundred years, the teachers from the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA have exerted historical influences on the teaching and have also created a lot of masterpieces. In face of the trend of the times and the international context that are changing, oil painting is seen as in a marginal state as a painting form, but the teachers from the Department of Oil Painting actively face the transformation of teaching and creation, which reveals that they collectively persist in oil painting. When the curator Wang Chunchen visited the studios in the process of planning the exhibition, he had a personal feeling that the boundaries of various studios were broken and the expression of individual life was emphasized, and individual emotions, personalized expressions and experimental explorations were strengthened in the creation. In this sense, it provides a response to the new epoch by the teachers from the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA, in the context of globalization. It is a reflection and expression of the current significance of painting. The theme of the exhibition, “The Return of Significance” also refers to the development of Chinese oil paintings in a diversified art context. In the multi-dimensional comparison, the aesthetic and social values of paintings are then reconsidered.
On the one hand, the two exhibitions are organized to review the subjects and teaching of the centennial academy, and on the other hand, they also intend to research the possibility of the creation and teaching of oil painting in the new age of image and information. These two exhibitions remain on view till 4 November.
Text by Zhang Wenzhi, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO
Photo by Hu Sichen/CAFA ART INFO
About the exhibitions
Discipline with Master’s Dignity—Teaching & Research Exhibition of No.3 Studio of the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA
Academic Advisers: Zhan Jianjun, Xie Dongming
Academic Chair: Yu Hong
Art Directors: Ma Lu, Liu Shangying
Curator: Tang Yu
Duration: 12 October – 14 November, 2018
Venue: Gallery 3A, CAFA Art Museum
Host: China Central Academy of Fine Arts
Organizers: School of Plastic Arts of CAFA, CAFA Art Museum
The Return of Significance—The Art by the Faculty of the Department of Oil Painting of CAFA in the Progressive Tense
Academic Chair: Fan Di’an
Art Director: Ma Lu
Curator: Wang Chunchen
Artists: Cai Haokun, Cao Yi, Hu Jiancheng, Jia Difei, Kang Lei, Lin Xiaochu, Liu Gang, Liu Shangying, Liu Xiaodong, Lu Liang, Ma Jiawei, Ma Lu, Ma Xiaoteng, Meng Luding, Pei Yongmei, Shen Ling, Shi Yu, Sun Xun, Wang Shaolun, Wang Yuping, Xia Libin, Yu Hong (arranged in alphabetical order)
Duration: 12 October—14 November, 2018
Venue: Gallery 3B, CAFA Art Museum
Host: China Central Academy of Fine Arts
Organizers: Department of Oil Painting of CAFA, CAFA Art Museum