New China artworks
Since the foundation of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Chinese artists embraced the construction of New China. They took Mao's dictum, 'Serving the people, serving the politics' as their motto, and their works reveal proud and happy workers and farmers. During this period, Chinese artists adopted 'socialist realist' modes of expression to depict the new face of China.
All works are from the National Art Museum of China.
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Ducks in Autumn, 1960
Ink and Wash, 69cm x 69cm.
Lin Fengmian (1900–1991), from Mei County, Guangdong province, travelled to France in 1919 to study at the École Nationale Supérieure d'Art de Dijon and then the École Nationale Supérieure des Beauxarts de Paris, majoring in oil painting. After returned to China in 1925, he became president of Beiping Technological Academy of Fine Arts. In 1928, at the invitation of art education expert Cai Yuanpei, Lin went to Hangzhou to take up the position of president of the National Academy of Fine Arts.
After China's War of Liberation, Lin worked as a painter in the Shanghai Chinese Painting Institute. He held many prominent positions in the Chinese Artists Association, including member of the board of directors and executive director, and was a committee member of the Chinese Federation of Literary and Art Circles. He later settled in Hong Kong.
When Lin was studying in France, he embraced Western modernism, finding similarities in it to the painting language of traditional Chinese freehand brushwork painting. He became a pioneer of the 'blending of oriental and Western arts', and was at the forefront of the reformation of Chinese painting. This ink-and-wash drawing depicts birds and natural subjects, common in oriental painting. The light brushwork shows the openness and emptiness of sky, land and water.
Red Rock, 1962
Ink and Wash, 104cm x 81.5cm.
Qian Songyan (1899–1985), from Yixing, Jiangsu province, graduated as a teacher in 1923 and taught in primary and middle schools in Suzhou and then at the Wuxi Technological Academy of Arts. In 1957, he was transferred to Jiangsu Chinese Painting Academy, where he became deputy dean and, later, dean. He was an executive member of the board of directors of the Chinese Artists Association, vice-chairman of Jiangsu Chinese Artists Association and committee member of the Chinese Federation of Literary and Art Circles.
With the establishment of New China, traditional Chinese landscape painting, which depicts life idealistically rather than realistically, had to be adapted to serve the new socialist regime. During the process of 'traditional Chinese painting reform', many significant 'landscape paintings of sacred places of the revolution' were produced, and this work is representative of these masterpieces.
The Red Rock village was the site of the Chongqing Office of the Southern Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee and the Eighth Route Army, and Mao Zedong stayed here when he was attending the Chongqing negotiations in 1945.
The artist has not made a literal copy of the landscape, depicting rocks rather than the yellow earth on the original site, and an ancient cypress (a symbol of the longevity of the Communist Party) on the side of the Red Rock Memorial Hall. Qian painted the plantain clusters in traditional black ink to avoid the clashing of reds and greens, and hence the colour red dominates the work. The bold and spirited nature of this painting is a departure from traditional Chinese art, often criticised as closed and reclusive.
Hard Times, 1957
Sculpture, 46cm x 45cm x 37cm.
Pan He was born in 1925, in Guangzhou. As a young man, he travelled to Hong Kong to pursue his interests in drawing, watercolour and sculpture. In 1949 he returned to Guangzhou and enrolled in the People of South China Institute of the Arts. In 1960, he was transferred to the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, where he is currently a professor in the Sculpture Department and deputy dean of the Guangdong Artists Association.
This classic work of the 1950s is a very important example of works expressing the theme of revolutionary history, and frequently appears in educational textbooks. The sculpture of an old soldier playing the flute while a young soldier listens embodies the optimistic spirit of wartime and a belief in the success of the revolution.