At 10:30 am on September 29, 2016, “Merry-Go-Round” – The 110th Anniversary of Qin Xuanfu successfully opened at the CAFA Art Museum. Centered on a “Merry-Go-Round”, according to the chronological classification, the exhibition is divided into 5 sections: “Memories of Paris”, “The Years of the Art School”, “Embracing Nature”, “Seeking the Truth and Establishing the New”, and “Wide Learning”. The exhibition takes Qin Xuanfu’s lost work as a clue, concerned about Qin Xuanfu’s circle of friends, in order to sort out the relationship between Qin Xuanfu and CAFA, the use of the narrative in the art museum to tell the stories of the groups of artists who studied in France following Xu Beihong in the early 1920s, as well as the experiences of the changes of China and CAFA after he returned to China. At the same time, there is also an intention that: through the exhibition there will be more and more scholars, experts focusng on the key works by the artists in the early 1920s, especially the important works that were lost over the years. It also hopes through research to add and restore the historical truth.
In 2006, jointly hosted by the Beijing Soka Art Center and Qin Xuanfu’s family, “The Exhibition to Commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Qin Xuanfu” was held at the CAFA Art Museum in Shuaifu Park, Wangfujing. In 2013, the National Art Museum of China launched the “Embracing Nature – Qin Xuanfu’s Large-Scale Exhibition.” The 2016 exhibition is named after the important work “Merry-Go-Round (also named the Wood Beast Game)” created during the period when he studied overseas in France. After it was on display at the Paris Independent Salon, France in 1934, it was shown at the exhibition of teachers from the National Beiping Art School in 1935, then it went missing after experiencing some unforeseen events.
After returning to China, Qin Xuanfu was appointed as the teacher of the National Beiping Art School by the President of National Beiping Art School Yan Zhikai. In the following 10 years, Qin Xuanfu served as a teacher of the school and a large number of his outstanding works have been preserved. In our interview, the family also repeatedly mentioned that Qin was proud of his experiences in teaching in the National Beiping Art School.
Looking back at history, since Qin learned painting, he has been inextricably linked with CAFA. Before studying in France, Qin visited Lin Fengmian, who gave him a postcard. During his stay in France, he was acquainted with Xu Beihong who went to France to prepare for an exhibition and in the following years, he kept in touch with Xu Beihong, who gave him a work entitled “Herbivorous Horse” and so far it has been preserved.
In 1933, the China Art Society in France was established. Many of artists, including Qin Xuanfu, Lv Sibai, Chang Shuhong, Wang Linyi, returned to China to teach in important art institutions and in turn became the backbone of the domestic art circles. During the War of Resistance against Japan, Qin Xuanfu, Lv Sibai, Wang Linyi, etc., gathered in Chongqing’s Phoenix Mountain.
If we start with the relationship between Qin Xianfu and CAFA, to study and explore the academic atmosphere and artistic outlook of the period that Qin Xuanfu stayed in France, then through the display of works by the artists such as Qin Xuanfu, Wu Zuoren, Wang Linyi, Chang Shuhong and Li Ruinian, etc., we are better able to understand the art of Qin Xuanfu, which led to the establishment of this special exhibition. In addition, this theme also coincides with the exhibition located at CAFA.
Qin Xuanfu was one of the older generation of teachers of CAFA before serving in the National Central University (in 1952, the domestic colleges and universities were rearranged, the original Departments of Fine Arts and Music at Central University formed the Nanjing Normal College (in 1984, it was changed to Nanjing Normal University) and he settled in Nanjing. During his tenure in Nanjing, he spent many vacations and spare time sketching, he created a large number of outstanding pieces. In his later years he tried to innovate and create a large number of lively and unique prints. These two works are exhibited in the exhibition which is enriching as it displays the interpretation of Qin’s attitude towards life as “embracing the life and embracing the nature”.
He also left a lot of teaching notes, theses and manuscripts on art history, more than 200 books were maintained by his family, as well as the recording of lectures in Nanjing Normal University and so on. Therefore, the curatorial team had to do a lot of study.
In the war, Qin lost his job; during the Cultural Revolution, he suffered a blow, and all creative activities were suspended. But Qin was optimistic and open-minded, striving to create to catch up with the precious lost time, he created a large number of outstanding pieces. So that, the curatorial team used this as a clue, starting with the works of Qin, depending on these works so “Merry-Go-Round” was created in France thus fulfilling the title, which is simple, clear and meaningful.
Through the study, there have been some achievements, such as the “Tianjing Battle” created by Qin Xuanfu in 1958, is a thematic creation to commemorate the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, it is collected by The Museum of History at Taiping Heavenly Kingdom in Nanjing, and after being buried for many years, it is the first time for the work to be shown, with the help of the family. Another case is the work entitled “Lying on Railways to Struggle” (manuscript) by Qin Xuanfu, the original painting is missing, only a dilapidated manuscript has been retained and it has been exhibited after restoration. The family originally thought it was the “February 7 Strike” created for the Puzhen factory, but after inspection and textual research on the screen by the curatorial team, who found the words written on the right side of the screen by Qin Xuanfu, reading that: “The students from across the country rushed to Nanjing for the petition on declaring war on Japan”, which was created to commemorate the “September 18 Incident”. The family members have also taken the time to write a letter to express gratitude to the curatorial team for their effort.
This exhibition will continue to October 30.
Text by Yang Zhonghui, Photo by Hu Sichen/CAFA ART INFO
Translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO
About the exhibition
“Merry-Go-Round” – The 110th Anniversary of Qin Xuanfu
Exhibition Time: September 29 – October 30, 2016
Exhibition Venue: Hall 2A, 3A, CAFA Art Museum
Host: Central Academy of Fine Arts (abbr. CAFA)
Organizer: CAFA Art Museum
Supported by: National Art Museum of China, Nanjing Normal University, Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum, Museum of History of Taiping Heavenly Kingdom in Nanjing, Wu Zuoren International Art Foundation
Academic Director: Fan Di’an
Academic Supporters: Saone Chang, Shao Dazhen, Zhu Qingsheng, Qin Zhiyan, Qin Zhiyun, Qin Zhiyu, Qin Zhining, Qiu Zhongyi
Curator: Tang Bin
Executive Curator: Hua Tianzi
Curatorial Assistants: Yang Zhonghui, Hu Jingwei