Shanghai's past century captured in figure paintings

Wang Jie
The exhibition "History Retraced" has recently opened at the Jiushi Art Gallery. Works of 10 veteran artists breathe new life into the classic art of figure paintings.
Wang Jie
Shanghai's past century captured in figure paintings

"The Opening of Shanghai" (2022) by Ye Xiong

Shanghai's past century captured in figure paintings

"Zhao Jia Bang" (2022) by Sang Linkang

The exhibition "History Retraced – Shanghai in the Past Century, Shanghai Figure Painting Exhibition" is currently underway at the Jiushi Art Gallery.

Organized by the Shanghai Committee of the China Democratic League, Shanghai Artists' Association and the Shanghai Jiushi Art Museum, the exhibition features 20 Chinese paintings created by 10 veteran artists including Wang Guanqing and Zhu Xinchang. It will be running until May 21.

These artists try to recreate the "indelible historic marks" of the city with their brushstrokes, through extensive preliminary research and study.

For example, Ye Xiong, before creating his artwork titled "The Opening of Shanghai," read widely on the pictorials of the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) for a deeper understanding of the social customs and humanities of the time.

"I hope to reflect the little things in life, in old Shanghai, conveying the ordinary flavor of the city before it was opened," said Ye.

At 92 years old, Wang Guanqing is the oldest among the artists at the exhibition. He paints a scene of local citizens gathering in front of a statue of Chen Yi, the first mayor of Shanghai after the founding of the People's Republic of China, under a backdrop of high-rise forests along the Huangpu River. The work expresses his passion and confidence toward the achievements of the city.

Different from the more traditional figure painting, the paintings on display are quite innovative in arrangement and subject. Various historical figures, whether celebrities or ordinary people, are carved vividly as group portraits. Maintaining the essence of traditional figure paintings, the artists fuse new techniques and angles into the classic genre.

Shanghai's past century captured in figure paintings

"Impression, the Bund of the Qing Dynasty" (2023) by Zhu Xinlong

Exhibition info:

Date: Through May 21 (closed on Mondays), 10am-6pm

Admission: Free (no entry half an hour before closure)

Venue: Bund 18 Jiushi Art Gallery

Address: 18 Zhongshan Rd E1


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