"Self-Conscious to the Civilization—Exhibition of Artistic Works by Mr. Yuan Yunsheng"Raised the Curtain in National Art Museum of China
On April 6, 2017, Organized by National Art Museum of China and sponsored by the Central Academy of Fine Arts, “Self-Conscious to the Civilization—Exhibition of Artistic Works by Mr. Yuan Yunsheng” raised the curtain in National Art Museum of China. This exhibition is one of “A Series of Artworks Donated to National Art Museum of China”, and consists of four parts according to the themes, i.e., “Implication from the Chinese Ink Painting”, “Doctrine Image”, “Integration between China and the West” and “The Memory”. This exhibition gives retrospective display of 141 traditional Chinese paintings, oil paintings and copperplate etching paintings created since the 1960s, as well as more than 20 sketches, line drawings and other works. Most of these works are publicly displayed for the first time. In this exhibition, Mr. Yuan Yunsheng donates a total of 16 representative works created by him during various periods, including Three Gunmen, A Bride’s Wedding Ceremony, Tai Chi on the Seaside, Exorcise Evil Spirits, the famous fresco Songkran Festival—Hymn of Life and a pencil line drawing with height of 3.4 meters and length of 27 meters.
In 1937, Mr. Yuan Yunsheng was born in Nantong City, Jiangsu Province. He is now a professor of the Central Academy of Fine Arts. In 1955, he was enrolled by the Central Academy of Fine Arts, and majored in oil painting. Inspired by Mr. Dong Xiwen, his creation never thoroughly follows suit the Soviet painting style, but instead is inclined to impressionism style and modernism style. Coerced by political movement at that time, after graduation from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1962, Mr. Yuan Yunsheng was assigned to Fine Arts Work Group of Changchun Workers’ Cultural Palace in Jilin Province. During this period, he not only fulfilled creation tasks, but also repeatedly visited other regions for paint from life, and completed more than 60 wood-board oil paintings. In 1974, in order to create Chairman Mao in Northern Shaanxi and other works, he went to northern Shaanxi for painting from life. Then Traditional Delineation Scroll on Yan’an and other wonderful works were rolled out. In 1978, at invitation of Yunnan People’s Publishing House, Mr. Yuan Yunsheng went to Xishuangbanna for painting from life, and completed a large number of line drawing works with pen and Chinese writing brush. On this basis, in 1979, invited by Mr. Zhang Ding, Mr. Yuan Yunsheng participated in fresco creation for Beijing Capital International Airport, and created a large-sized fresco Songkran Festival—Hymn of Life. The middle of this fresco was boldly painted with bathing scene of three naked Dai women, which triggered extensive debates in the Chinese art circle, cultural circle and even ideological circle at the time. This symbolic work is not only one of the iconic images for China’s reform and opening up, but also makes Mr. Yuan Yunsheng and his artistic exploration well known far and near.
In 1982, at invitation of “International Visiting Scholars Program” of the United States Information Agency, Mr. Yuan Yunsheng visited the United States, and he was arranged to visit a number of art museums in Washington, New York, Boston, Chicago and other cities. He paid a visit to the US abstract expressionism artist Mr. Willem De Kooning, pop art pioneer Mr. Robert Rauschenberg and other masters. This greatly influenced Mr. Yuan Yunsheng’s painting ideology and language. Subsequently, at invitations of the University of Northern Iowa, Tufts University Boston, Smith College and Harvard University, he became a resident artist and eventually settled in the United States until 1996. During this time, Mr. Yuan Yunsheng was influenced by abstract expressionism painting, applied ink, wax, toner, oil and other materials on rice paper, and completed many works with strong abstract expressionist style. In this process, Mr. Yuan Yunsheng consciously integrated Mr. Shi Tao’s “one-stroke painting theory” of traditional Chinese painting thought with improvisation emotion of abstract expressionism painting, and gained insights into the intrinsic correlation between both styles. Thanks to continuous research and exploration, Mr. Yuan Yunsheng obtained more and more profound understandings of the importance of cultural identity and cultural recognition.
In 1996, Mr. Yuan Yunsheng was invited by the Central Academy of Fine Arts to take charge of teaching work of Studio No. 4 of Oil Painting Department. At the same time, his creation thought gradually shifted towards the goal of building a new Chinese contemporary art education modeling system. At this time, Mr. Yuan Yunsheng spared no effort to traditional Chinese sculpture. In his opinion, with a view to establishing language and concept system of the Chinese contemporary art, modeling is the most fundamental content. So it is necessary to depict image of the Chinese rather than draw on the European and American modern art and contemporary art creation system. He points out: “The Chinese culture has a wealth of ideological connotations. If you cherish consciousness of civilization, you will be clearheaded and make reflection over this issue”. As commented by him in Preface of “Self-Consciousness to the Civilization—Exhibition of Artistic Works by Mr. Yuan Yunsheng”: “Cultural self-confidence is derived from awareness of indigenous culture. Awareness is a prerequisite for recognition”.
Venue: Hall 1, Hall 6, Hall 7, Hall 8 and Hall 9 of National Art Museum of China
Show Time: April 6-16, 2017