By Herb Boyd
Part of the splendor of the 12th China National Exhibition of Fine Arts is told in numbers. Out of 24,000 submissions of art work, mostly paintings, 576 works were nominated or received awards. Sixty-five of those works are on display at Bonhams on Madison Avenue for a weeklong stay. This is the first time the fabulous exhibit has visited the U.S.
“It was brought to New York City because of the city’s importance to world culture and its diverse communities,” said Tao Qin, a noted art critic and Secretary General of the China Arts Association. “The artists represented here are just a sample of the many artists in China who express themselves in a variety of forms and concepts.”
Most of the paintings are six feet by six feet, with an array of colorful landscapes, traditional misty watercolors, stylized portraits, and fantastic modern interpretations. Scattered among the paintings are a few sculptures and three-dimensional pieces. There is one very engaging painting by Liu Xiaodong that reprises Michelangelo’s God reaching out to Adam, though in this instance the object being touched is a cell phone.
African American visitors will be drawn to a huge black and white charcoal-like rendering of children by Sun Daichan. One of the painters on the panel during the press conference Wednesday afternoon was Jin Rui and he discussed his work “The Battlefield,” in which a beautiful girl stands in stark contrast to mutilated bodies.
“The work employs line brush work and heavy-color technique and Chinese fresco,” said Riu, who was born in Beijing in 1973. He is currently an assistant professor of Chinese Painting under the China Central Academy of Fine Arts.
Like the other panelists, he said he hopes the tour will give viewers some understanding and appreciation of the extent and artistic range of Chinese Artists.
When asked if some artists were not selected because of their political perspectives, Liu Dawei, Vice Chairman of China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, said “no one is ruled out because of their politics.”
With so many submissions, individual states begin the trimming down process, Dawei explained. “Then it’s left for the final committee to determine which are chosen to be part of the tour.”
Among the impressive paintings is “Scenery on Bridge,” by He Hongzhou. It realistically depicts three pioneering Chinese painters in Paris in the 1920s by the river Seine. The painting, with the subjects almost statute-like, received the Gold Prize.
Many of the works reflect the dramatic changes that have occurred in China, particularly over the last 65 years, symbolized by the number of paintings in the exhibit.
Ma Xinle, one of the panelists and an acclaimed artist, said that the weeklong stay at Bonhams, July 9-17 is short in order to accommodate the other stops on the tour as it visits four continents.
“This is a rich and impressive collection and I think it captures China’s contemporary image as well as the distant past,” said Fannie Lau Lawren, event planner for the NY exhibition, who at times served as an interpreter.
But no interpreters are needed for visitors; the art more than speaks for itself and you can discover this in the remaining days at Bonhams, 580 Madison Avenue, weekdays 9am to 5pm, through July 17, and open to the public free.