Shedding light on storehouse secrets
Updated: 2013-01-26 08:21
By Lin Qi (China Daily)
It has become a tradition for the National Art Museum of China to celebrate Spring Festival, or the Lunar New Year, by exhibiting part of its immense collection.
This year, it has expanded the scale to fill nine exhibition halls with artworks from not only its storehouse but also from nine other fine art museums around the country.
Selected Collections from 10 Art Museums demonstrates these museums' efforts to enrich and study their collections, so they are better presented to the public.
It particularly marks the Beijing debut of many paintings with a wide range of styles and motifs from seven provincial and city museums. It offers a glimpse of different regions' art heritage, which have developed unique characteristics based on consistent academic reviews.
"Our collections tell how Chinese artists pursued modernism in the first half of the 20th century, and it shows Guangdong province's cultural landscape about 50 years ago," Guangdong Fine Arts Museum's director Luo Yiping says.
The museum brings Realistic oil paintings by those who first introduced Western artistic language to describe their native land and people, and spearheaded modern Chinese art's enlightenment by founding independent art groups. It also displays representative works of the Lingnan Painting School, which injected innovation into Chinese painting.
The Hubei Museum of Arts, the youngest of all participating museums at 5 years old, narrates a different chapter of history. Its selection of 60 prints record New China's industrial construction and factory workers' daily lives.
The museum is located in Hubei's provincial capital Wuhan, an industrial giant in Central China.
"The city's positioning decides our collection with prints featuring the theme of industrial development," museum director Fu Zhongwang says.
"Most print artists were themselves workers, who drew inspiration from laboring in workshops, construction sites and mines."
The exhibition inaugurates NAMOC's series of celebrations of its 50th anniversary. The country's top art museum houses more than 100,000 paintings, sculptures, calligraphic works, photos and folk art items, such as paper-cuts and puppets. Director Fan Di'an says the museum received a donation of 1,200 works in 2012 alone.
Such a tour to the capital might spark interest in regional art traditions and bring donations for local museums.
The Guan Shanyue Art Museum in Guangdong's Shenzhen city exhibits selected posters from a collection of 1,160 graphic designs from home and abroad. That accounts for nearly one-third of its collection.
The museum, which is named after the Lingnan School's pioneer artist Guan Shanyue (1912-2000), also hopes to enlarge its stock of Chinese paintings, particularly of contemporary ink-and-water works.
Museum curator Chen Xiangbo says the recent years' art market boom has elevated this genre's appeal. He believes it will take time for more buyers to share their private collections with the public.
"China's fine art museums are still in their infancy," Central Academy of Fine Arts professor Jin Shangyi says.
"They need to move forward by staging permanent exhibitions where collections can enthrall viewers rather than remain storehouse secrets."
He called upon the academy's teachers to donate about 100 works to museums in the 1990s.
The CAFA Art Museum displays at the exhibition works celebrated artists created when they studied or taught at the academy in their youth.
The Ministry of Culture launched a campaign in 2012 to select public art museums' best collection exhibitions. It encourages more permanent shows to make collections more accessible.
"If we (art museums) only collect things but don't display them, we're merely warehouses - and who'd want to donate to our storage?" Fan says.
The exhibition will run until Feb 26.
(China Daily 01/26/2013 page11)