Shaping the French Connection

July 2, 2019
By Lin QiEditor: Ling Xiao

Visitors look at exhibits of Heritage Immortal, an exhibition showing 37 sculptures by five current artists from France's Academie des Beaux-Arts at the National Art Museum of China. All the artworks on display will be added to the permanent collection of the museum after the exhibition ends on July 9. [For China Daily/Jiang Dong]

 

A sculpture exhibition featuring works by members of the Academie des Beaux-Arts is celebrating a century of art exchanges between China and France.

The integration of Chinese and Western techniques and styles marked an important development in the history of Chinese fine arts during the 20th century, in which the interchanges between Chinese and French artists played a special role.

Hundreds of young Chinese people went to France, either self-sponsored, on government scholarships or on work-study programs over the first half of the 20th century. They enrolled at French art schools and academies to receive formal training in painting, printing and sculpture. And when they returned home, they introduced not only the European style of realism into Chinese art, but also the modern system of art education they encountered, which contributed significantly to the development of modern Chinese art.

To celebrate this influential connection, the National Art Museum of China mounted Heritage Immortal, an exhibition displaying 37 sculptures by five current artists at the Academie des Beaux-Arts, a Paris-based learned society and one of five academies comprising the Institute of France.

The academy boasts an eminent list of members from the global art world over the years, including neoclassical painter Jean-Auguste Ingres and oil painter Eugene Delacroix who produced the iconic piece Liberty Leading the People.

The exhibition coincides with the 55th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-French diplomatic relations this year.

All the works on display will be added to the permanent collection of the National Art Museum of China after the exhibition ends on July 9.

Visitors look at exhibits of Heritage Immortal, an exhibition showing 37 sculptures by five current artists from France's Academie des Beaux-Arts at the National Art Museum of China. All the artworks on display will be added to the permanent collection of the museum after the exhibition ends on July 9. [For China Daily/Jiang Dong]

 

Wu Weishan, director of the National Art Museum of China and a sculptor, says the ongoing exhibition is the second collaboration where works by members of the Academie des Beaux-Arts have been shown in Beijing.

In 2016, an exhibition showing dozens of paintings and prints by nine Academie des Beaux-Arts members was held at the museum to mark the 200th anniversary of the academy's founding, Wu says. The current exhibition is dedicated entirely to works of sculpture, and will offer local art lovers an insight into the rich minds of the contemporary French artists on show.

Wu was elected in 2017 as a correspondent member of the Academie des Beaux-Arts. In the early 1990s, master painter Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) was awarded the same title.

Wu Guanzhong's contemporaries at the Hangzhou Fine Art School (now the China Academy of Art), prominent painters Zao Wouki (1920-2013) and Chu Teh-chun (1920-2014) were both members of the Academie des Beaux-Arts.

Claude Abeille, one of the sculptors on show, says, "Sculpture needs no translation, because it is a universal language. If people want to learn this language, all they need to do is to visit this exhibition."

Visitors look at exhibits of Heritage Immortal, an exhibition showing 37 sculptures by five current artists from France's Academie des Beaux-Arts at the National Art Museum of China. All the artworks on display will be added to the permanent collection of the museum after the exhibition ends on July 9. [For China Daily/Jiang Dong]

 

Abeille says some of the works on display celebrate beauty and dynamics, while others convey a sense of stability and concentration on art. Some works express thoughts on human's status, while others depict the vibrancy of forms.

"All these works come from France, which is thousands of miles away. I hope they will spark different thoughts among the people here, and I hope the visitors will experience joy while they walk around them."

Jean Anguera, vice-president of the Academie des Beaux-Arts and another French artist featured at the exhibition, says the show allows them to introduce their work as sculptors, adding that they feel honored to be able to "encounter" Chinese thoughts and philosophy passed down thousands of years through a process of challenge and self-innovation.

"Sculpture is a form that can give full expression to the Sino-French friendship, because sculpture is an art of solidity that endures the passing of time. Sculpture achieves a certain harmonious balance by combining material and thought," he says.

Visitors look at exhibits of Heritage Immortal, an exhibition showing 37 sculptures by five current artists from France's Academie des Beaux-Arts at the National Art Museum of China. All the artworks on display will be added to the permanent collection of the museum after the exhibition ends on July 9. [For China Daily/Jiang Dong]

 

"Sculpture goes beyond the description of words. It's alive, and it moves all the time. It reveals our inner faith. And for each visitor to this exhibition, every work will be unique to him or her. All they need to do is to stand before the work, read it, and they will breathe together and create a special space of their own."

This exhibition echoes Wu Weishan's solo exhibition, Sculpting the Souls, currently running at the National Museum of China, which shows both works of great momentum and others that reflect touching moments from daily life, he says.

In early May, one of Wu's works, a bronze relief titled Centennial Monument, was installed at a square in the French commune of Montargis. A century ago, dozens of young Chinese students joined a work-study program in the commune, where they learned techniques and advanced their thoughts which later helped to empower their home country.

Wu's work portrays several members of this group: some later became revolutionaries and politicians, such as Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping, as well as 20th-century artist Xu Beihong.

 

(Source: China Daily)

Please understand that womenofchina.cn,a non-profit, information-communication website, cannot reach every writer before using articles and images. For copyright issues, please contact us by emailing: website@womenofchina.cn. The articles published and opinions expressed on this website represent the opinions of writers and are not necessarily shared by womenofchina.cn.


32.3K
Comments