The Art of Xu Beihong (Speaker: Vincent Lee Kwun-leung)

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Information about The Art of Xu Beihong (Speaker: Vincent Lee Kwun-leung)
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Published on March 20, 2014

Author: vincentlee9237

Source: slideshare.net

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Title: "Xu Beihong: Chinese-ink painting as a nationalistic propaganda of enforcing China for political and ideological changes"

Xu Beihong (徐悲鴻) was active with his creativity throughout the Republican Period. Before his 30-year-old age, Xu Beihong endeavored with a combinative research on modern art theories and Sino-Western comparative aesthetics. The term “nationalistic propaganda” from my research topic highlighted the fact that, Xu Beihong bore a sense of responsibility to checkmate the prosperity and decline of our racial art tradition. Despite the non-secular persistence of literati painters, Xu made a breakthrough to transform the function of Chinese-ink painting as a promotional asset of spreading the benevolent, righteous and virtuous mode of self-managerial thoughts, so called “zhi xue” in Chinese.

The ultimate goal of research is to interpret Xu Beihong’s nationalistic aspirations based on a series of his narrative themes related to the human-based spirits of Chinese compatriots. And, for sure, the reason for Xu Beihong to develop such uniqueness is that, he is so eager to bring about ideological and philosophical changes for the intellectual field. It is necessary for us to associate Xu Beihong’s reformative spirits with the enlightenment trends of May Fourth Movement in a historical approach. Xu Beihong’s aesthetic investigation accommodated the emerging trend of Lingnan Art Fraction, as the Chinese-ink painting did experience a change of functionality. To Xu Beihong’s socialist-based opinions, Chinese-ink paintings were no longer the extravagant court items owned by monarchical rulers. He hoped that this creativity returned to a peculiar essence in which people from different social hierarchies were qualified to perceive the art contexts and raise particular kinds of individual thoughts on universal phenomenon.

For the second point of emphasis, Xu Beihong acknowledged the open-mindedness of Western education thoughts, thus he greatly encouraged the current art masters to tolerate a re-modification of painting methodologies. Painters could spend their adolescence on a consolidation of craftsmanship and description techniques, then their Masters should guide them to seek alternative ways for a development of unique art styles.

For the third point of emphasis, it is advised to explore the implications from the messages delivered by Xu Beihong’s art, as we all know that, he was good at boosting up the morale of Chinese art lovers to participate, cherish and support the anti-Japanese defense. Through some iconographical and narrative contents as metaphors, Xu Beihong silently highlighted his critical reflection on the corruption and disunity of Kuomingtang governance.

LEE Kwun Leung Vincent (09429670)LEE Kwun Leung Vincent (09429670) Master of Social Science in China Studies (History)Master of Social Science in China Studies (History) Xu Beihong: Chinese-Xu Beihong: Chinese- ink painting as aink painting as a nationalistic propagandanationalistic propaganda of enforcing China forof enforcing China for political and ideologicalpolitical and ideological changeschanges

Ultimate purpose of researchUltimate purpose of research  Early 20Early 20thth Century –Century – Change of functionChange of function: Chinese-ink paintings: Chinese-ink paintings were no longer the extravagant court items owned bywere no longer the extravagant court items owned by monarchical rulers, but amonarchical rulers, but a popular mediumpopular medium for intellectuals tofor intellectuals to spread patriotic affectionspread patriotic affection  How Xu Beihong initiated a re-modification on paintingHow Xu Beihong initiated a re-modification on painting methodologies – stressed stylistic and thematicmethodologies – stressed stylistic and thematic breakthroughsbreakthroughs with traditional techniques as solid basiswith traditional techniques as solid basis  Messages delivered by Xu Beihong – Boosted up the morale forMessages delivered by Xu Beihong – Boosted up the morale for Chinese participation in anti-Japanese defence, together with aChinese participation in anti-Japanese defence, together with a critical reflection on the corruption and disunity of Kuomingtangcritical reflection on the corruption and disunity of Kuomingtang governancegovernance

Reform on Chinese aestheticsReform on Chinese aesthetics  Racial features apart fromRacial features apart from literati temperamentsliterati temperaments  Strengthened the “plastic”Strengthened the “plastic” expression and diminished theexpression and diminished the complicated brushstrokecomplicated brushstroke detailsdetails  Stressed the ideaStressed the idea ““observationobservation” apart from the” apart from the consistency between handsconsistency between hands and feelings from heartand feelings from heart

Penetrated into, instead of retreatingPenetrated into, instead of retreating from, national and secular affairsfrom, national and secular affairs  Denied the fine-artDenied the fine-art academia in Shanghai foracademia in Shanghai for their blind pursuit on thetheir blind pursuit on the Western trend of ModernWestern trend of Modern ArtArt  Tight connection with QiTight connection with Qi Baishi (Baishi ( 齊白石齊白石 ) to) to investigate on theinvestigate on the methodological reformsmethodological reforms of Chinese-ink paintingsof Chinese-ink paintings

Xu Beihong’s acknowledgement on MayXu Beihong’s acknowledgement on May Fourth MovementFourth Movement  XXu Beihong regarded the four “Wangs” (u Beihong regarded the four “Wangs” (Wang Shimin,Wang Shimin, Wang Jian, Wang Hui & Wang YuanqiWang Jian, Wang Hui & Wang Yuanqi 王時敏、王鑒、王翬、王原祈王時敏、王鑒、王翬、王原祈 )) as “eight-legged” and feudalistic: narrowed themes, rigidas “eight-legged” and feudalistic: narrowed themes, rigid expressions, lack of stylistic vitalityexpressions, lack of stylistic vitality – Felt depressed with literati painters’ over-persistence onFelt depressed with literati painters’ over-persistence on imitating the styles of ancient mastersimitating the styles of ancient masters  Avocation: To absorb the advanced experiences ofAvocation: To absorb the advanced experiences of Western art as a mean of restraining theWestern art as a mean of restraining the inferiorinferior encroachment of formalistic art from the Westencroachment of formalistic art from the West

Xu Beihong’s acknowledgement on MayXu Beihong’s acknowledgement on May Fourth MovementFourth Movement (continued)(continued)  Changed the philosophy ofChanged the philosophy of apprenticeship: Masters should layapprenticeship: Masters should lay their apprentices with solidtheir apprentices with solid technical foundations, guide themtechnical foundations, guide them to develop their own creativity andto develop their own creativity and tolerate their stylistic innovations.tolerate their stylistic innovations.  Sought an aesthetic coexistenceSought an aesthetic coexistence between Chinese and Westernbetween Chinese and Western styles, whereas the moisturizedstyles, whereas the moisturized infiltration and harmoniousinfiltration and harmonious luminance of Chinese ink had to beluminance of Chinese ink had to be inherited continuously.inherited continuously. Xu Beihong created a portraitureXu Beihong created a portraiture for Ranbindranath Tagore, anfor Ranbindranath Tagore, an Indian poet-writer, with ChineseIndian poet-writer, with Chinese ink and xuanzhi paper as mediumsink and xuanzhi paper as mediums

Xu Beihong’s acknowledgement onXu Beihong’s acknowledgement on CommunismCommunism  Eager to liberate painters from being controlledEager to liberate painters from being controlled by art dealersby art dealers – Felt disappointed with Picasso’s stylisticFelt disappointed with Picasso’s stylistic transformations for the sake of appeasingtransformations for the sake of appeasing bourgeoisies and bureaucrats’ curiositybourgeoisies and bureaucrats’ curiosity – Regarded Matisse as not respecting the legitimateRegarded Matisse as not respecting the legitimate painting methodologies: too playfulpainting methodologies: too playful – Art should serve the aesthetic pleasure of commonArt should serve the aesthetic pleasure of common people, with a vivid description of social livelihoodspeople, with a vivid description of social livelihoods and an aspiration of modifying the globaland an aspiration of modifying the global phenomenon.phenomenon.

Painting (1): “Painting (1): “The Five Hundred Muscular Men fromThe Five Hundred Muscular Men from Tian HengTian Heng” (” ( 田橫五百壯士田橫五百壯士 ))  Adopted the anti-QinAdopted the anti-Qin revolters from Tianrevolters from Tian Heng under theHeng under the leadership Emperorleadership Emperor Han Gaozu (Han Gaozu ( 漢高祖漢高祖 )) as a metaphor toas a metaphor to encourage Chineseencourage Chinese intellectuals not tointellectuals not to incline to imperialism,incline to imperialism, as the Kuomintangas the Kuomintang officials used to serveofficials used to serve their own politicaltheir own political interests at the expenseinterests at the expense of national securityof national security  An emphasis onAn emphasis on moral integritymoral integrity as a preservation of racial dignityas a preservation of racial dignity

Painting (2): “Painting (2): “Rescue from an Intelligent LeaderRescue from an Intelligent Leader” (” ( 徯我徯我 后后 ))  MetaphorMetaphor:: Impoverished villagersImpoverished villagers who longed for Shangwho longed for Shang Tang (Tang ( 商湯商湯 )’s arrival to)’s arrival to help them turn down thehelp them turn down the brutal governance ofbrutal governance of Emperor Xia Jie (Emperor Xia Jie ( 夏桀夏桀 ))  ImplicationImplication: Chinese: Chinese people longed for apeople longed for a capable leadership fromcapable leadership from KuomintangKuomintang Government to relieveGovernment to relieve their burden andtheir burden and counteract with Japanesecounteract with Japanese influence in Manchuriainfluence in Manchuria after the outbreak of 9-after the outbreak of 9- 18 Incident18 Incident  Chinese hoped for a thorough liberationChinese hoped for a thorough liberation from the torture of foreign humiliationfrom the torture of foreign humiliation

Painting (3): “Painting (3): “Where there’s a will, there’s the wayWhere there’s a will, there’s the way” (” ( 愚愚 公移山公移山 )) (created in 1940 during a journey in India)(created in 1940 during a journey in India)  ImplicationImplication: Boosted up the morale of: Boosted up the morale of Chinese people to endeavour with theirChinese people to endeavour with their defence against Japanese invasiondefence against Japanese invasion  BelievedBelieved that a staunch persistence on nationalisticthat a staunch persistence on nationalistic spirit would result in the ultimate success of aspirit would result in the ultimate success of a racerace  ChineseChinese should beshould be hopeful andhopeful and optimisticoptimistic with theirwith their strengthstrength

Painting (4): “Painting (4): “The Adverse WindThe Adverse Wind” (” ( 逆風逆風 )) (created in(created in 1936)1936)  ImplicationImplication: With regards to: With regards to sparrows’ courage insparrows’ courage in encountering the obstacles ofencountering the obstacles of vibrant wind force, we, asvibrant wind force, we, as Chinese citizens, should persistChinese citizens, should persist with our high morale inwith our high morale in defending our territories fromdefending our territories from Japanese invasion. Even thoughJapanese invasion. Even though their military threat was gigantic,their military threat was gigantic, we should not underestimate ourwe should not underestimate our ability to reverse the decliningability to reverse the declining situation of our race.situation of our race.  To make breakthrough regardless of a contrastTo make breakthrough regardless of a contrast between strengths and weaknessesbetween strengths and weaknesses

Painting (5): “Painting (5): “The Spring Rainfall in Lijiang RiverThe Spring Rainfall in Lijiang River”” (( 漓江春雨漓江春雨 ))  ImplicationImplication: During the toughed days: During the toughed days of Second Sino-Japanese War, Xuof Second Sino-Japanese War, Xu Beihong witnessed that the reactionaryBeihong witnessed that the reactionary forces within Kuomintang permittedforces within Kuomintang permitted foreigners to legitimize their territorialforeigners to legitimize their territorial humiliations in coastal areas. Xuhumiliations in coastal areas. Xu Beihong left Nanjing with anger andBeihong left Nanjing with anger and reached Guilin. As Xu retreated fromreached Guilin. As Xu retreated from the social turbulence, he turned tothe social turbulence, he turned to appreciate the simplicity and harmonyappreciate the simplicity and harmony of rural life and further felt emotionlessof rural life and further felt emotionless with the unjust political pursuits ofwith the unjust political pursuits of current rulers.current rulers.  Felt helpless with the insane of Kuomintang’sFelt helpless with the insane of Kuomintang’s corrupted governancecorrupted governance

Xu Beihong’s contributions: AnXu Beihong’s contributions: An avant-garde to promoteavant-garde to promote ideological enlightenmentsideological enlightenments through a stylistic reformationthrough a stylistic reformation on Chinese arton Chinese art  Established “Neo-Established “Neo-Oriental Drawing” byOriental Drawing” by merging the Chinese delineative painting withmerging the Chinese delineative painting with the scientific elements of formalismthe scientific elements of formalism  Intentional contouring as a respect to objectiveIntentional contouring as a respect to objective substancessubstances  Paid a heartfelt concern on compatriots’Paid a heartfelt concern on compatriots’ sufferings – The spirit of compassion throughsufferings – The spirit of compassion through aesthetic descriptionaesthetic description  Employed “models” to portray narrativeEmployed “models” to portray narrative characters with accurate anatomical proportionscharacters with accurate anatomical proportions  Equilibrium between spiritual likeliness andEquilibrium between spiritual likeliness and compositional realitycompositional reality Pakistan in Jishui, Scholastic TemperamentsPakistan in Jishui, Scholastic Temperaments (( 巴人汲水.懷學素養巴人汲水.懷學素養 ))

The righteous behaviour of XuThe righteous behaviour of Xu Beihong – upheld virtues regardlessBeihong – upheld virtues regardless of political threatof political threat  Xu returned to Beijing ProfessionalXu returned to Beijing Professional Academy of Fine Arts in 1941. He defendedAcademy of Fine Arts in 1941. He defended his students against the slanders and tortureshis students against the slanders and tortures of reactionary officials from Kuomintang.of reactionary officials from Kuomintang. He collected the criminal evidences of theseHe collected the criminal evidences of these officals and submitted his findings to Aiofficals and submitted his findings to Ai Qing (Qing ( 艾青艾青 ), a Kuomintang commander), a Kuomintang commander who took over the control of the Academy.who took over the control of the Academy.  Xu united with Beiping Artists’ Association,Xu united with Beiping Artists’ Association, Chinese Academy of Fine Arts and BeijingChinese Academy of Fine Arts and Beijing Professional Academy of Fine Arts toProfessional Academy of Fine Arts to organize the “Joint Art Exhibition” as a wayorganize the “Joint Art Exhibition” as a way of presenting Chinese public with a renewedof presenting Chinese public with a renewed image of Chinese painting methodology.image of Chinese painting methodology. The Ninth Ode of Quyuan –The Ninth Ode of Quyuan – National Grief (National Grief ( 屈原九歌.國殤屈原九歌.國殤 ))

Gains from this research topicGains from this research topic  ““CreativityCreativity” instead of “imitation” and” instead of “imitation” and “cultivation” (a Western art concept)“cultivation” (a Western art concept)  Painting as a wholesome propaganda –Painting as a wholesome propaganda – influenced people to pursue universalinfluenced people to pursue universal obligations, not just limited to spiritualobligations, not just limited to spiritual enhancementsenhancements  Painting as a reaction to the culturalPainting as a reaction to the cultural mission of highlighting the elegantmission of highlighting the elegant features of Chinese Civilizationfeatures of Chinese Civilization  To efficiently analyze the patrioticTo efficiently analyze the patriotic messages from different iconographiesmessages from different iconographies of Xu Beihong’s paintings – tightof Xu Beihong’s paintings – tight correlation of his reformed art stylescorrelation of his reformed art styles with the anti-Japanese intellectual trendwith the anti-Japanese intellectual trend of Kuomintang eraof Kuomintang era The Ninth Ode of Quyuan – TheThe Ninth Ode of Quyuan – The Mountainous Monster (Mountainous Monster ( 屈原九歌.山鬼屈原九歌.山鬼 ))

Gains from this research topicGains from this research topic (continued)(continued)  To raise the significance of “To raise the significance of “holisticholistic artist personalityartist personality” in this new social” in this new social epoch – stressed both conscientiousepoch – stressed both conscientious awareness and social participationsawareness and social participations instead of over-emphasizing on theinstead of over-emphasizing on the spiritual delights from their personalspiritual delights from their personal art realmsart realms  To explore the virtues from Xu’s newTo explore the virtues from Xu’s new ideals in art education – Chineseideals in art education – Chinese humanism (Xu was honored as thehumanism (Xu was honored as the Man of Chinese Art Renaissance)Man of Chinese Art Renaissance) The Ninth Ode of Quyuan – TheThe Ninth Ode of Quyuan – The Mountainous Monster (Mountainous Monster ( 屈原九歌.山鬼屈原九歌.山鬼 ))

Reference MaterialsReference Materials  王震,《徐悲鴻評集》,王震,《徐悲鴻評集》, 19861986 年年 1212 月第月第 11 版,漓江出版社版,漓江出版社 ,廣西桂林市鐵西小區,廣西桂林市鐵西小區  沈培新,《徐悲鴻.作品解沈培新,《徐悲鴻.作品解 讀》,讀》, 20062006 年年 55 月初版,安月初版,安 徽人民出版社,安徽徽人民出版社,安徽  陳傳席,《今日美術館書庫.陳傳席,《今日美術館書庫. 中國名畫家全集 — 徐悲鴻》中國名畫家全集 — 徐悲鴻》 ,, 20032003 年年 1010 月第月第 11 版,河北版,河北 教育出版社,河北教育出版社,河北

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