14 Exhibition view of The Temperature of History CAFA and Chinese Representative Oil Paintings (Shandong Art Museum)

On March 19, 2016, sponsored by CAFA, “The Temperature of History: CAFA and Chinese Representational Oil Paintings” was moved to be shown at Shandong Art Museum, to greet the arrival of Spring in Shandong in the form of art. The large-scale exhibition “The Temperature of History” is a key part of the “One Hundred Years of Glory” project celebrating the centennial birthday of CAFA. The exhibition displays the collections of oil painting and research into the development association and the contextual history between CAFA and representational oil painting. The exhibition was on display in various regions of the country in 2015, it received a lot of attention and was highly praised by community and society, it was greatly supported by the “National Art Fund”, and won the “National Key Art Museum Excellent Exhibition” as the “2015 National Art Museum Excellent Project” selected by the Ministry of Culture. Before that, the exhibition was on show at Ningbo Art Museum in Zhejiang Province, now it moves north to Shandong and is also the second tour of 2016.

On the morning of the same day, a grand opening ceremony was held at Shandong Art Museum. Head of Shandong Provincial Department of Culture Zhang Guilin, President of Shandong University of Arts Zhang Zhimin, Vice Party Secretary Wang Li’ke, Lifelong Honorary Chairman of Shandong Oil Painting Institute Yang Songlin, Director of Shandong Art Museum Liu Yanchun, Prof. Sun Jingbo from CAFA, Assistant to the CAFA President, Dean of the Academic Affairs Office Wang Xiaolin, exhibition curator and secretary-general of the academic committee Yin Shuangxi, exhibition director, deputy director of CAFA Art Museum Tang Bin, Director of the Department of Fundamental Education for Plastic Arts Zhang Lujiang, and deputy director Li Ronglin attended the opening ceremony of the exhibition.

Shandong Province embraces wonderful mountains and waters as it is a big cultural province in China, it has a fabulous chapter in the developmental history of Chinese art, many great painters have emerged from Shandong such as the painter of the noted work “Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival” Zhang Zeduan, and the painter of the earliest landscape painting preserved in China “Travelers in Spring” by Zhan Ziqian. Since the 20th century, a large group of outstanding oil painters have come from Shandong this cannot be ignored, and nearly 30 painters among the nearly 200 exhibitors of the tour have a close relationship with Shandong. Head of Shandong Provincial Department of Culture Zhang Guilin affirmed the academic quality of the exhibition, and the collective appearance of CAFA’s artistic collections with distinctive characteristics, they systematically express the artistic characteristics of representational paintings, as well as the relationship with the development of Chinese culture. Zhang Guilin also hoped the art circles in Shandong would start from this exhibition to strengthen the cooperation and communication with other academic institutions, to develop the big province of fine arts to become a strong province of fine arts.

Assistant to the CAFA President, Dean of the Academic Affairs Office Wang Xiaolin said that, “The exhibition crosses the historical curtain, combining the association between CAFA and Chinese oil painting, to showcase contributions by several generations of oil painters, which favors the forming of a more thorough understanding of the development history of oil painting in China, to carry forward the outstanding artistic traditions within contemporary cultural conditions, so that people could appreciate the depth of thought, artistic height and cultural temperature of excellent works, the exhibition has showcased the cultural value and social significance of the representational oil painting, to promote the development of Chinese oil painting and Chinese art.”

President of CAFA Fan Di’an treats this exhibition seriously but he was unable to personally visit the opening scene because of the administrative affairs of the school, so that the Assistant to the CAFA President Wang Xiaolin brought his congratulations to the exhibition: The exhibition is both a touring show of the oil painting from CAFA and a new starting point toward the future of Chinese oil paintings. At the same time, the exhibition cooperates with the other brother art museums, is also an opportunity to promote the public cultural service, taking this exhibition as an historical tour, to fix the contemporary consensus, dedicated to the people from Shandong.

The exhibition is a systematic research of Chinese realistic oil painting in the 20th century, which is divided into five parts, including: New Learning Enlightenment (1900-1949), National Narrative (1949-1976), Ontology Careful Study (1977-1999), Contemporary Concern (2000-2014), Original Works and Copies of Foreign Representational Paintings. “New Learning Enlightenment” starts from the old oil paintings in the late Qing and early Republic of China, and rare glass paintings, to outline the evolution trajectory of early Chinese oil painting when Western realistic oil painting met Chinese traditional culture and reality; “National Narrative” showcases that CAFA has actively promoted the socialist realistic art of Chinese art since the People’s Republic of China was founded, especially using major national historical themes as the main body, to build the historical narrative and collective memory of new China. “The Ontology Careful Study” reveals that the political, economic, cultural reform and opening-up play a role in the development of Chinese art from the new period; “Contemporary Concern” does not only showcase the innovative works by the famous old professors of CAFA, but also the representative works by the middle-aged and young teachers from various faculties, in addition to the works by advanced students and graduates. The work showcases the broad cultural vision of contemporary painters, while it also maintains profound humanistic care in contemporary society; “Original Works and Copies of Foreign Representational Paintings” showcase the copies of  representational paintings of the West and former Soviet Union finished by the teachers from CAFA when they visited the foreign art museums over the years, from which we can see the diversified influences on Chinese oil painting by foreign oil painting, and also the in-depth exploration and research on the essence of western painting by the oil painters from CAFA.

Exhibition curator Prof. Yin Shuangxi summarized the exhibition as an academic show, based on the historical research and research of Chinese oil painting in the 20th century, it had its own academic perspective and context; it was a special retrospective, to review the Chinese representational paintings which were different from the abstract and not constrained by realism; it was a touring cultural flavor exhibition, rather than being hidden in the deep curtilage courtyard, academic things should be felt and appreciated by more audiences, in order to realize the cultural livelihood. Prof. Yin Shuangxi also mentioned a lot of works were very “fragile”, and rarely seen, and they would return to the warehouse for “rehabilitation” after the exhibition, perhaps they would not be seen by the public in the next one or two decades.

“The Temperature of History” touring exhibition is not only an exhibition, exhibition director and deputy director of CAFA Art Museum Tang Bin described it as the “2015 Important Academic and Cultural Event”. During the tour in Shandong, Shandong Art Museum also launched three academic lectures: “Yin Shuangxi: People Oriented – Modern Road of Chinese Fine Arts in the 20th Century”, “Sun Jingbo: Listening to the Elder Teachers of CAFA  as they Told Their Stories When They Were Young”, “Yang Songlin, Chen Guoli: The Stories of the Class for Advanced Studies of CAFA”, so that, the public could more clearly, understand the three dimensional representative oil painting. On April 17, after the end of the tour in Shandong, it will also be displayed in Hubei, Chongqing, Shaanxi, Hebei and Shanxi.

Text and photo by Zhang Wenzhi, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO

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