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March 23, 2024

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Largest exhibition of Lin Fengmian and Wu Guanzhong provides a feast of art

The largest-ever showcase of two heavyweight painters in China’s modern art history provides a great opportunity for art lovers to experience their portfolios.

Nearly 100 years ago, Chinese artists wondered where Chinese painting would go, especially in face of the impact and influence of Western culture.

However, Lin Fengmian (1900-1991) and Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) gave their splendid answers under their brushstrokes through combining Western techniques with Eastern esthetics.

Held at China Art Museum in Shanghai, “Pictures of China: Artworks by Lin Fengmian and Wu Guanzhong” brings together 200 paintings, sketches and other creations by the two artists during different periods, forming an epic dialogue between the two great masters of the painting world.

Both of them studied in France. French arts and culture left a great impact on them, and the exhibition, running through May 5, is one of the events marking the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism.

The artistic path of Lin and Wu began in the East, fused with the West, and then influenced the world with a mutual understanding of Eastern and Western civilizations.

Lin, a prominent figure in 20th-century Chinese art, is renowned for his role in founding modern art education in China and pioneering the modern art movement in the country.

“The value of a person is built on the foundation of morality. Therefore, an artist must also strive to be a person of moral integrity,” Lin once said.

In his personal life, he exuded gentleness and humility, calmly tutored his students and gracefully accepted misunderstandings or critiques from his peers toward his art. Lin’s art was much ahead of his time, and he never abandoned his art path.

A lover of literature, he valued much in contemplation. His works are refined in style and rich in content, conveying a nuanced expression of sorrow.

He also extensively absorbed “nutrients” from various folk arts and reinterpreted Cubism’s free handling of time and space through Chinese opera.

Lin is widely recognized for his status in the pinnacle of the Western and Eastern art world.

Wu, Lin’s student, aimed to explore his own art path based on Lin’s concept of fusing the Western and Eastern art.

Wu’s contributions extended across diverse domains, encompassing painting, writing, art criticism and education. In his quest to modernize traditional Chinese painting and nationalize oil painting, Wu forged a new paradigm for ink art and a fresh perspective for Chinese oil painting.

Wu opened a new chapter in modern-style ink painting. Though not as refined in brushwork as traditional ink painting, his paintings radiate an impressive Eastern charm. His unconventional assertions, such as “brush and ink values zero,” shattered monotony in the Chinese art world with a new expressive art language.



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