by Pan Gongkai
President, China Central Academy of Fine Arts
The Start of a Long Journey–The Future of Art
It is my pleasure to present the outstanding works by The China Central Academy of Fine Arts alumni to audiences in UK.
Since its founding, CAFA has built an extensive collection of the outstanding work by its alumni. To this day, the collection has become an integral part of the history of fine arts education in China. Many of our alumni have emerged as leaders and representatives of the development of Chinese art. In this sense, the CAFA alumni collection has a crucial place in Chinese art history: it is the unique art treasure that foresees future evolution.
In recent years, CAFA has embarked on many experiments in order to transform the academy and its teaching. The efforts have broadened our artistic boundaries, our students’ vision and their artistic thinking with significant success. In 2008, CAFA founded a new contemporary art museum, which has allowed the collection of our alumni’s outstanding works to expand. As the organization of the CAFA Art Museum becomes more refined, the collection continually reveals the uniqueness of our era and CAFA’s accomplishments in education.
The showcase of our alumni works from the past three years exemplifies CAFA’s openness and vibrancy. All this has been the stimulus to our creation of a new art world, as it sharpens our sense of duty along with fine arts educators and artists. Looking forward to a brighter future of Chinese art, the works of our alumni serve encouragement and promise. We call the future of art “the start of a long journey” to instill this spirit into the hearts of our alumni, the momentum that propels their future in art.
With this exhibition, we hope to offer an alternate view on the institutional education of fine arts in China, as well as the variety and vibrancy of contemporary Chinese art that it manifests.
I wish the exhibition tremendous success.
by Xu Bing
Vice-President, China Central Academy of Fine Arts
The phrase “the start of a long journey” originated from the classical text Dao De Jing by the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu:
“A thick tree trunk that eludes one’s embrace sprouts from tiny stems;
A nine-storied tower is built from numerous baskets of mud;
A thousand-mile long journey starts with each and every step.”
The gist is that all brilliance starts from minute origins. The logic to any growth is determined by the quality of its genesis and the strength and direction of its foundation. This is the core value of education.
This exhibition presents selected outstanding works by CAFA alumni from the past three years. The featured works make for an exemplary showcase of fine arts education in today’s China, as they reflect the level of fine arts education and the inclinations of the new generation of artists in China: how the young talents relate to the world, society, and their surroundings through their art. The works are critical assessments of the previous era of Chinese art shaped by the intellectual trends during the Cold War period, as well as the allure of traditional Chinese wisdom. These artists have witnessed their parents and teachers struggled through tremendous social changes. It has given them a broader view on what defines China and the present era, the unique culture they are striving in and the mission of their generation.
I place great value on the works of the young generation of artists and their attitudes toward art, since they point to the next stage of art ecology and the future of art in China. We can find some facets in their works, which are more precious than what we usually see in the works by the “star artists” who are created as commercial articles and thus labeled by the market. These facets are seeds for the future and a genuine development of their raw talent.
The work of an academy is multi-layered. Its main mission is to nurture talents for our contemporary and future society, those who have a true appreciation of art, fine tastes, outstanding artistic techniques and the capability for execution. The review of the changes and progress of our students throughout their education is an important evaluation of the academy.
The philosophy of CAFA is: the most rigorous academic foundation, the most vibrant thinking and the pursuit of the deepest and broadest vision on the frontier. The evolution of art ecology is the same as that of natural ecology. Growth stems from the ecological chain in the system: the distinction of one species is detrimental to others. The evolution of ecology follows the rules of nature, while the transformation of a culture is decided by an historical context and changing values. The function of an academy resembles that of a laboratory of genetic programming, as the academy nurtures the finest artistic genes. Such programming is of an academic and exemplary nature, and it precedes any mass marketing of art. To an extent, this is the academy’s role in the ecology of art.
The development of Chinese art and fine arts education has taken a contrary route to that of Western art due to historical reasons. Since Western culture was instrumental in the evolution of human civilization throughout the last century, it also had a tremendous impact on the world’s art history and education. There are respective strengths and weaknesses to Oriental and Western art educations. In reviewing our past traces, we can examine our achievements and blind spots so as to discover a future direction.
A true contemporary attitude is inclusive of all cultural input. We must face our history while we reflect on one critical question: how to utilize our resources in searching for a contemporary mode of fine arts education in the unprecedented, infinite realm of experimentation in today’s China.
I would like to extend my special thanks to my friend John Koh, owner of Bernard Quaritch Limited, the sponsor of Art@GoldenSquare (Jin Kuang) Art Space, who shows tremendous passion and support for Chinese art. I would also like to thank all those who have helped make this exhibition a reality.
About the exhibition
Exhibition Dates: January 17th—February 10th, 2012
Exhibition Venue: Art@GoldenSquare
Hosts: China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Bernard Quaritch Limited
Organizers: CAFA Art Museum and Art@GoldenSquare
General Counsel: Pan Gongkai
General Academic Director: Xu Bing
Curator: Wang Huangsheng
Project Coordination: Yuehping Yen, Daniella Rossi, Tang Bin, Gao Gao, Yue Junyao
Project Executive: Yuehping Yen, Daniella Rossi, Li Raochen, Li Weirun, Wang Chunling