Exhibit offering insight into museum's innovators

The Art Museum of China Academy of Art has opened its doors to the school's largest collection of faculty and alumni works.

The museum of the China Academy of Art has opened its doors to the school’s largest collection of faculty and alumni works.

The exhibition gives a glimpse into how the modern art of China has developed over the years under the influence of forerunners in and out of the academy. More than 200 pieces of ink-wash and oil paintings, calligraphy, sculpture and printmaking are on display.

“The show covers artworks made from the 1930s when the museum was established, to the most recent work produced in 2016,” said Zhang Suqi, one of the curators of the show.

Almost all of the works have been donated to the museum by the artists or their families.

Nine alumni and their representatives attended the donation ceremony at the opening on March 5, while another 43 pieces have been added to the collection of the museum.

The 105-year-old alumna, Chen Lingjuan, couldn’t make it to the opening herself, but she donated through her son a set of old photos documenting her two-and-a-half-year stay at Hangzhou National School of Art, a precursor of the academy.

In a letter addressed to people at the opening, she vividly recalled memories of being with the first president of the school, Lin Fengmian, and how he encouraged her to pursue a career larger than herself.

It is perhaps hard to take only a few snapshots from the academy’s 90 years of history. But Lin and Pan Tianshou are probably the two most important people worth mentioning.

Artist Hong Huizhen (second from right) donates his artwork to the museum of the China Academy of Art at the opening of an exhibition.

While Lin was the person who set the tone for the visions and core values of the school, Pan built the foundation of Chinese traditional painting education. His pedagogy and theories benefitted many of his students and late-comers.

Apart from being educators, both of them are renowned painters. Two of Lin’s works are featured in the exhibition, including his iconic portraits of young ladies with long and narrow eyes, often dressed up in a traditional outfit from the past.

On the first floor of the museum, visitors can find two separate portraits of both artists, one in printmaking and the other being oil painting. 

In the same room there are draft drawings from Pan and Zhao Wuji made during their classes. 

Zhao studied at the school in the 1930s before moving to France a couple of years later. There he earned himself a world reputation as an abstraction painter with a mysterious touch from the East.

“Young Ladies” by Lin Fengmian

It is also interesting to learn how certain artworks made by different people are interrelated and connected by each other. 

For example, Jin Yide, a graduate from the school, used to attend a training program held by Eugen Popa, a Romanian artist who was invited to teach in Hangzhou in the 1960s. 

Some 20 years later, when Jin was a professor at the academy himself, he nurtured and influenced a group of artists-in-the-making, who initiated the avant-garde art movement “85 New Wave” and became leading figures of contemporary Chinese art in the years to come.

More lectures and guided tours are to be expected by experts and alumni during the exhibition, which will last until the end of the month.

Date: Through March 30

Address: 218 Nanshan Rd

Admission: Free

Special Reports