Vision and Virtuosity
A Selection of 20th Century Chinese Ink Painting Masters
From the Xian Rui Xuan Collection
10/8/2004 to 6/25/2005
The Pacific Heritage Museum is pleased to present this exhibition of contemporary Chinese paintings featuring the works of over 30 artists from China. This is a rare opportunity for the public to see gathered in one space paintings by some of the best artists from China, most of whom are in their prime creative years.

China has changed remarkably in the past two decades, and nowhere is this change more dramatically expressed than in the art scene which is booming in China today. Access to information and the rapid economic growth have helped in the exchange of ideas; this in turn has broadened the range of techniques and subject matters for artists to experiment with. The current artistic scene in China is varied and vibrant, with artist creating works from the so-called "avant-garde" style to the traditional academic style.

It would have been too ambitious for the current exhibition to tackle the entire subject of contemporary Chinese painting. Consequently, it focuses on works that mainly fall in the category of traditional forms, such as calligraphy and ink painting, or that reflect traditional heritage while combining classical Chinese techniques with Western art styles. Many of the artists in the exhibition are middle-aged and well established in China. Artists such as Zhang Bu (b. 1934), Shi Qi (b. 1939), Peng Xiancheng (b. 1941), Song Di (b. 1945), Hu Yongkai (1945), Shen Daohong (b. 1947), Feng Dazhong (b. 1949), Wang Mingming (b. 1952), and Guan Yuliang (b. 1957), have had their works exhibited in different countries and gained international recognition.

Feng Da zhong, Moonlight, 1993 Hai Tian, Stone Shoal, 1997 Hu Yong Kai, In the Candlelight, 2000 Peng Xiancheng, The Beauties, 1996
Feng Dazhong
Moonlight, 1993
Hai Tian
Stone Shoal, 1997
Hu Yong Kai
In the Candlelight, 2000
Peng Xiancheng
The Beauties, 1996
 
Shen Daohong, Bright Festive Day, 1998 Song Di, The Majestic Huangshan, 1997 Zhu Xunde, The Moon Over the Silent Mountain, 1993 Zhang Zhenhua, Picking Lotus, 2002
Shen Daohong
Bright Festive Day, 1998
Song Di
The Majestic Huangshan, 1997
Zhu Xunde
The Moon Over the Silent Mountain, 1993
Zhang Zhenhua
Picking Lotus, 2002

The paintings can be divided thematically in three groups: landscapes, figures, and flowers and animals. Stylistically however, they represent a rich diversity. For example, Peng Xiancheng (b. 1941), a self-taught artist, is well known for his paintings of horse-riders where he integrates the Han and Tang dynasty styles, skillfully emphasizing the elegant "boneless" brushwork technique. Liang Yan (b. 1943) on the other hand, paints portraits of the mountain people, emphasizing their harsh living conditions in a realistic and bold style. Shen Daohong (b. 1947) from Chengdu, Sichuan Province, creates grand scale figure paintings of exquisite craftsmanship, combining broad ink washes with refine detailing.

Shi Qi (b. 1939), who graduated from the Fujian Xiamen Art Academy in 1963, built his reputation through a series of masterful works in 1970s. Constantly exploring new possibilities, Shi's contribution to Chinese painting lies in his unique integration of the concrete, the impressionistic and the abstract. Feng Linzhang (b. 1943) studied under Hou Jutan in his early years and later studied with Chinese painting masters Li Yuxing and Wang Xuetao. He takes the traditional gong-bi style to new levels by combining it with a splash-ink technique creating works full of flowing rhythms. Other artists such as Mi Chunmao (b.1938), Feng Dazhong (b.1949), and He Jiaying (b. 1957) paint in the gong-bi or "meticulous" style technique with great attention to detail, graceful brushwork, and realism.

Even with the mass consumption of electronic media and Internet technology in China, as with the rest of the world, it is refreshing, paradoxically, to see that the traditional medium of ink painting is still highly regarded by artists and critics in China, and continuously being revisited, reinvigorated and renewed. Taking into account that there are many talented artists in China, what differentiate the artists in this exhibition from the rest are each artist's unique personal style, their technical mastery, and the maturity of their artistic vision.

The Pacific Heritage Museum is thankful to the Xian Rui Xuan Studio for generously lending the paintings for the exhibition, as well as to the International Art Collectors Association for their assistance in the design and sponsoring of the of the exhibition catalogue. Funding for the exhibition is provided by United Commercial Bank.