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        Embracing the charm of China’s academic watercolor art
        Author:Hu Zixin  Date:2019-05-29  Clicks:

        From April 5 to June 5, 2019 the Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary Renowned Academic Watercolor Artists in China is held at Wanlin Art Museum, Wuhan University. On display are works by 11 well-known academic watercolor artists showcasing varied features of Chinese aesthetics. Organized by Wanlin Art Museum and coordinated by the School of Urban Design, the exhibition is aimed at the further development of Chinese academic watercolor art. 

        Poster of the exhibition in front of Wanlin Art Museum

        It is the second time for Wanlin Art Museum to organize the Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary Renowned Academic Watercolor Artists in China. In the previous year, landscape paintings were chosen as a fitting starting point for the appreciation of to watercolors, not only because masterpieces of this kind have lodged themselves in the public mind, but also for its transparent, elegant and flowing characteristics. This year, in order to provide the audience with a brand-new experience as well as the artistic charm of watercolor, figure painting was selected as the theme of the exhibition. This extension of subjects in watercolor reveals its unique features and advantages in character expression. 

        Figure paintings by Ying Jinfei

        A glimpse of the exhibition

        Art works of different subjects are well arranged in divided halls, creating  a harmonious atmosphere in this artistic space. Liu Yongjian, professor of the Fine Arts College of Hunan Normal University and chairman of the Hunan Watercolor Society, has brought portraits of peoples from Liangshan District, Sichuan Province, China to the exhibition. His art works depict human features and personalities shaped by the unique geographical environment. Without background information, such portraits provide the audience with room to imagine these people’s  life stories.

        Portraits of people in Liangshan District and Gannan District

        Portraits of people in Gannan District by Xu Haigang

        The lives of ethnic minorities are a favored art subject. People from Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture are the theme of works by Xu Haigang, member of the China Artists Association. The natural expression and inner spirit derived from strong faith are depicted vividly by the artist. Similarly, Chenjian, director of the Chinese Artists Association, presents us with his portrait of Tajik, a mysterious ethnic group of China that lives in Pamirs. His work expresses their casual living conditions and rustic spirits following close contact with them.

        Portraits of people in Tajik by Chen Jian

        The charm of watercolor portrait does not solely lie in its realistic depiction. Rather, it lies in its ability to present something more surreal. The paintings from Chen Liu, dean of the Academy of Fine Arts in Yunnan University of Arts, portray Bangladeshi characters in a unique way, by showing their salient personality. Peculiar modelling with exaggeration introduces the audience to an intense artistic experience, revealing Chen’s distinctive art style which combines symbolism, surrealism and primitive art.

        A series of Bangladeshi characters by Chen Liu

        A series of Bangladeshi characters by Chen Liu

        While integration is worshiped by some, fragmentation is the answer to others. Ying Jinfei, director of the Zhejiang Province Art Museum, uses a purified watercolor language to give expression to the female body poetically by depicting a certain part of it. The partial body of a beautiful woman provokes contradictions and reflects warfare and disasters.

        Watercolors by Ying Jinfei

        Urban life and countryside scenery are also common themes in watercolor paintings. Collections in the exhibition include routines of city builders, corners of the city, deserted construction sites and other scenes of daily life. All these present us with the infinite possibilities and rich spiritual connotation of watercolor art.

        The true and only theme of this exhibition is human. While some are depicted in flesh, others are presented through plants, animals or even metaphorical objects - the traces of the human can be found throughout the exhibition. In this sense, the human is the only theme of all art activities. The value and meaning of art is that it continuously reminds us of our human identity and arouses our reflection on how to be and what makes us a real human being.

        Visitor in Wanlin Art Museum

        Visitor in Wanlin Art Museum

        Visitor in Wanlin Art Museum

        Visitors in Wanlin Art Museum

        Yet, acquisition from this exhibition varies from person to person. Wandering around Wanlin Art Museum, some are appreciating each piece carefully and try to figure out its theme, while others are just taking a walk with their friends and families. Young girls in delicate outfits try to find the best positions in front of camera, while the elderly take a sit in front of the wall of portraits to have a good rest. Everyone stepping inside this modern architecture gets his or her own rewarding experience. And that’s the point of this exhibition.

        Photo by Chen Yaqi

        Edited by Zhou Siyan, Li Yushan, Zheng Yayun, Shi Weiya & Hu Sijia


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