Learning Chinese art from the master

Learning Chinese art from the master

If you are looking to be inspired, don’t miss the exhibition Wu Guanzhong: Learning from the Master. Presented by the National Gallery Singapore, the exhibition spotlights the famed painter’s influential role as an art educator at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing from 1976 to 1985.

The exhibition, which is on until 26 Sep, features more than 80 works of modern Chinese art and archival materials, including photographs, art journals and study notes belonging to the artist and students he taught.

Here are five not-to-be-missed highlights at the exhibition:

Wu with Class of 1977 Department of Ceramics modern chinese art

A photograph of Wu with students from the 1977 class of the Central Academy of Art and Design’s Department of Ceramics

Wu often took his students on outdoor drawing trips as he believed the lines, curves, and arcs of things in nature were good examples of abstraction at play in life and art. He encouraged them to extract and depict visual elements of beauty from what they observed around them.

Notebook #4_Zhao Tianxin modern chinese art

Handwritten notes by Wu Guanzhong’s student

The notebook belongs to student Zhao Tianxin from the 1977 class of the Department of Graphic Design at the Central Academy of Art and Design. Zhao was taught by Wu, who helped students approach abstraction not as a concept, but as an experience in their daily lives. He encouraged them to not just draw what they observed, but to also write down the emotions they experienced. Hardly any of the students Wu taught still have their notes and sketches from the time they were Wu’s student.

Notes from outdoor teaching trips modern chinese art

Notes from outdoor teaching trips to the Great Wall and Qinhuangdao

This finely-sketched drawing of trees made in ink and pen is one of 26 drawings done by Wu in 1978 during an outdoor teaching trip. Wu’s interpretation of abstraction draws from both Chinese and Western art practices, and he especially focused on extracting visual forms such as dots, lines and planes to convey the aesthetic qualities of objects.

Manuscripts modern chinese art

Wu’s handwritten manuscript

The three undated pages come from Wu’s manuscript for the essay The Bittersweet of Integrating Chinese and Western Painting. Wu was a prolific artist and writer; he painted in the day and wrote at night. His artistic and literary practices complemented each other and his manuscripts offer valuable insight into his thoughts on art and other related fields.

Wu with Class of 1977 Department of Graphic Design modern chinese art

A photograph of Wu with students from the 1977 class of Central Academy of Art and Design’s Department of Graphic Design

This black-and-white photograph shows Wu with studentson an outdoor drawing trip to the Shanhai Pass in 1978. This photo shows the closeness between the master and the students he taught, who were inspired by his spirit of exploration and his passion for art.

Learn more about Wu Guanzhong: Learning from the Master.  

(Photos: National Gallery Singapore, Tsinghua University Art Museum, Zhang Peng)

We can’t wait to share more awesome content with you. This is going to be so much fun.

Give us a heads up on the topics that interest you: