April 22 to May 24, 1992
Culture is a pattern of behaviours, ideas, and values shared by a group. The visual arts are a means of communicating, teaching and transmitting these cultural ideas and values, thus maintain the behaviour, ideas and values.
The traditional study of art has been to identify the characteristics of art within each period of social and political history. Classification of art by periods and by peoples, such as Ancient Greek Art, Colonial Mexican Art, Contemporary Black Art, gives us only a part of the knowledge we need. We must learn to think of art and people in processes of change.
Art is a principle means of communicating ideas and emotional meanings from one person to another, from one group to another, from one generation to another. Ideas are communicated through art as well as through words. Poets often ‘paint pictures’ with words to stimulate our visual imagery. But visual artists can provide us with both images and ideas. Some artists are concerned with the communication of ideas, some with communicating feelings and emotions, some with the aesthetics or beauty of form, some with the effects of manipulating materials, and others are concerned with some synthesis of all these communications.
The degree the message comes from artist, through the work, to the viewer, depends upon the nature of the message, how well the design carries the content and effect of the message, and how receptive the viewer is to the message. Some people may only respond to some parts of the message and not to others’ many people only to the subject matter some mainly to the emotional impact; and others to the beauty of the organization. Some people get all these messages, a few almost none of them.
Some societies have art forms whose main purpose is to communicate – paintings and sculpture in Western and Oriental Art. Other societies mainly use art in relation to some useful object masks, ceremonial body coverings, tools, vessels. But these all communicate qualities, ideas, and emotions as well. Every human-made object that we can see, touch or smell communicates; it tells us something about its use, its function, and its social meaning.
We often hear the statement that art is a universal language. It may be true in that the ordering process of human beings, used as a basis for design, appears to be found in art forms everywhere in the world. Some kind of ordering of the art elements of shape or form, line, colour, texture, and space requires some concerned, caring effort to produce it. There are common human experiences in the processes of living that are expressed, but the interpretation of the meaning of time, space, human relations, the structure of social life depend on the cultural group. To some degree we can respond to any people’s art even though their language may be incomprehensible to use. But we can only understand their art in the degree we can learn their culture. When we remember that a culture is learned through the values and beliefs expressed through the day to day actions of people, their language, the symbols in their visual environment, their art, myths, and music, we should not be surprised that a latecomer can rarely learn it as a child learned it growing up in it. But each child learns his or her own culture somewhat uniquely learning some aspects and ignoring others. For these reasons art is not wholly a universal language. In observing a given work of art, we are limited by our understandings of the culture and the degree to which the artist is central or peripheral to the culture.
The paintings and woodcuts included in this exhibition, although produced by young children just learning their cultural identity, show a culture in some ways very different and at times very similar to our own. The painting Door god is a curious subject to someone not familiar with Chinese religion or culture many houses have a god and are usually a carved figure to protect them and their occupants from harm. Pictures of mommies, sisters and grampas are fairly common to any cultural group they are subjects close to almost all the children. Our enjoyment of artwork produced by artists of a culture other than our own can only be enhanced by our greater understanding of that culture and its people.
The Province of Sichuan famous for its wealth and resources in arts is known as the ‘haven for arts.’ For many generations it has cultivated and nourished many renowned artists. The development and productions of the Young Artist Training Centre is astounding. It is the best educational institute in China today. The students in this institute have produced more than a thousand paintings which were sent to Japan, United States, Russia, Spain and various other countries for exhibitions and international competitions. Many of these works have won gold medals, silver medals, bronze medals and special awards.
The thirty-five paintings exhibited here are full of Chinese characteristics. Through their paintings these young artists attempt to describe their colourful and happy childhood, their love for nature and their country and their desire for a peaceful world.
These paintings are selected from about 100 paintings the students made in their classes. The media included Chinese black ink, Chinese paints, rice paper and Chinese brushes.
This exhibition featured artwork by:
Hu Di, Bai Ying Shu, Luo Dian Ru, An Si Wei, Qui Le Pan, Qi Yin, Chen Fei, Zhang Cha, Hu Chong Wen, Liang Shu, Zhang Yi, Bai Jin, Li Ting, Chen Lu, Li Qian, Li Xiao Rui, Yang zi Ying, Qin Lan, Deng Ling Juan, Chen Li Juan, Gin Heng, Liu Yi, Deng Yu Hong, Zhang Lei and Young Yu.
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