Chazen Museum of Art


Tradition and Innovation: The Human Figure in Contemporary Chinese Art

April 9, 2015

Tradition and Innovation: The Human Figure in Contemporary Chinese Art opens to the public on April 10, 2015, at the Chazen Museum of Art. The twenty-three monumental works of art brought together in the exhibition provide a rare look at Beijing’s current art scene as represented by some of China’s most respected and successful artists.

All of the exhibiting artists, at some point in their careers, trained at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing, which is China’s foremost school for the visual arts. Some of the artists have continued there as distinguished members of its faculty. A hallmark of CAFA-trained artists is mastery of technique. Whether they work in ink wash painting, western-style oil painting, or digital photography, their skills are flawless. Some artists use centuries-old media to depict modern themes, as in Liu Qinghe’s Xinfadi (2013), which comprises 15 paper scrolls painted in ink wash, 14 of them depicting disheveled, contemporary teenagers. Other artists use Western imagery and tradition to portray life in today’s China. One example is Yu Hong’s Ladder to the Sky (2008), which is based on a twelfth-century icon called The Ladder of Divine Ascent from the Monastery of St. Catherine in Egypt, but depicts everyday modern Chinese people instead of medieval Christian monks.

Although the exhibiting artists are well known in Asia, many have never been seen in the United States before now. This exhibition represents a very special opportunity to see this artwork for the first time.

Several of the artists will travel to Madison for the show’s opening, and a symposium will be held Friday, April 10 from 1–4:30 p.m. (details below) featuring Yu Hong and Xiang Jing, who will discuss what it is like to be a female artist in today’s China and other topics.

Opening Reception Thursday, April 9, 6–8 p.m.

Tradition and Innovation: The Figure in Chinese Contemporary Art Symposium

Friday, April 10, 1–4:30 p.m.
Room L140, Elvehjem Building, 800 University Avenue, Madison, WI.

1 p.m. Welcome and introductions
Keynote lecture by Julia Andrews, Professor of the History of Art and author of Art of Modern China, The Ohio State University

2:15 p.m. Break

2:30–4:30 p.m. Roundtable discussion with artists in the exhibition, including painter YU Hong and sculptor Xiang Jing. Topics include contemporary Chinese art education and gender. They will be joined by Yuhang Li, Assistant Professor, Department of Art History, Michael Jay McClure, Associate Professor, Department of Art History, and Julia Andrews. Moderator is Nicole Huang, Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Literature.

The symposium is organized by the Chazen Museum of Art, Wisconsin China Initiative, Department of Art History, and the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature.

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