In the 20th century, China underwent dramatic social changes and cultural renewal. The art of painting has experienced great integration and exploration through the collision of tradition and modernity, China and the West. Amidst this wave of changes, Chinese artists have carried out a full range of discussions and practices covering the styles, techniques and concepts of Chinese and Western painting, forming vivid and diverse works. Wang Xuetao was among the outstanding artists who were brave enough to innovate and pioneer. His works are distinguished by exquisite brushwork, elegant coloring and lively postures. They are regarded as classics of Chinese freehand bird-and-flower painting and are a valuable asset in the modern development of traditional Chinese painting.
Wang was born in the early 20th century. He studied Western painting and Chinese painting at the National Art School in Beiping in his youth. Wang had a solid foundation in the modeling of Western painting, and was taught by masters such as Qi Baishi and Wang Mengbai. He gained not only Qi Baishi’s profound understanding of traditional brushwork but also Wang Mengbai’s sophisticated modeling and memorizing skills. Learning from others and studying traditions in-depth, he created a new artistic language of Chinese freehand bird-and-flower painting by integrating the colors and modeling of Western painting into his brushwork. Wang had a highly acute artistic sense and was adept at capturing the fleeting charm of life. The flowers, birds, grasses, insects and scenes of life in his works are full of vivid and real appeal, allowing the viewer to experience true feelings in the finest details, and the artistic charm therein.
This exhibition is based on a systematic academic review of Wang’s artistic journey and the characteristics of his creations. It is divided into three sections, namely “Tracing the Origins,” “Seeking the Truth” and “Passing on Sentiments.” One hundred and twenty-three paintings created by Wang in different periods are on display, with rich thematic content, flexible and varied creative techniques, and a variety of forms. The exhibits include several sets of scrolls, fans and sketches, in addition to the common standing scrolls and hand scrolls. The use of multimedia technology to display representative works brings the paintings of flowers, birds, fish and insects to life.
We sincerely hope that this exhibition will offer visitors a chance to appreciate true beauty. It further aims to guide visitors to experience the artistic pursuits of the old generation of outstanding artists who inherited tradition, learned from others, rooted themselves in life and dedicated themselves to creating fine works of art. We hope that visitors can appreciate the incredible achievements made by the outstanding Chinese artists of the 20th century in their artistic practice of integrating the ancient and the modern, the East and the West.