Time: May 1, 2022 — May 17, 2022
Location: Gallery 2 and 3
Information revolution has fundamentally changed the way of living and social patterns. Litterateurs and artists then all become path-seekers in this revolution of the era. Professor GE Xiaohong is a scholarly artist, who is good at thinking and eager to practice. He continuously keeps himself updated and endeavors to stand in the forefront of contemporary artistic development. Being a long-time teacher, he is accustomed to get to the root of a matter. He is always able to center on big matters, start from the laws of art, and seek the contemporary cultural propositions of the classical versus the contemporary, and the east versus the west. In recent years, he created artworks of “Cultural Heritage” series, consistently reflecting his control of the themes on the macro level and profound detailed depiction. Moreover, he can timely transform the experience of field investigations on themes to proper artistic discourse. The ideology and artistic expressions are, therefore, integrated in artworks. Excellent artworks home and abroad mostly demonstrate the artists’ focus on real life and their reflections on or attachment to history, filling the ideological space with the memories of history and treads of thoughts.
Since 2010, there have been new archaeological findings in Relics of Liangzhu Ancient City from time to time, among which the most interesting is the unearthed 5000-year-old stockpile of carbonized, unhusked rice, weighing in at about hundreds of thousands grams. The unearthed rice not only confirms the scale of early rice production in China, but also provides new research topics for both science and art. The changes in time bring forward unlimited artistic vitality. Today, while thinking about problems of art, artists shall also pay attention to and portray significant topics about human development. Coincidentally, around the same time, the excavation of the tomb of Marquis of Haihun achieved significant progress, causing a great flutter. I learn about the whole tomb excavation process through photos and videos. The lacquer wares, bronze wares, jade wares and many gold coins are sparkling in muddy water. Eroded by time, these mottled and fragmented items, as the history evolves, tell numerous stories of the tomb owner before and after his death. Watching the trilling videos, I cannot help but sigh that it is the ecology of culture. This state is perhaps similar to the “beauty of status quo” of ancient murals after thousands of years’ weathering. What’s different is that ancient murals are “growing art”. Protecting their “status quo” continues their life. Archaeological excavation tells another story. These precious “treasures”, once unearthed, must be disengaged from history and become “cultural relics”. The valuable part of Xiaohong’s art and researches is to endow dual social values of “ecology” and “cultural relics” to the themes.
During the field visits of the national project “Pearl of the Silk Road – Ancient Mural ‘Current Situation Depiction’”, which was presided by me, the team members found inspirations from the “beauty of status quo” of ancient murals from various perspectives. Xiaohong took a new path. From the examination of Hemudu farming culture, he created Cultural Heritage Series – Autumn Harvest and Winter Storage, a comprehensive material artwork with “carbonized and unhusked rice” as the main conception. With unique sensitivity of an artist, he sought clues of the dialogue between the ancient and modern times… The dry land in the painting contains all of his pondering on history and modern times. He steps into history from the contemporary world, and walks out of history afterwards. Obviously, this “epic and grand” theme needs rich and proper artistic language to express. To this end, Xiaohong visited this birthplace of Chinese civilization again and again, looking for materials fit for the theme regarding materials and expressions. He then mixed the materials in the narratives of artworks through techniques of presentation, integrating them in repeating collisions and permeation. The emotional integration is thus achieved “from the center to the surface” and then “from the surface to the center”.
Material expressions and spiritual pursuits constitute the links between “physics” and “metaphysics”. They run through the whole process from consideration of artwork themes, social investigations to artwork creation. The creative process of this artwork also shows us that materials and techniques are always “physical”, which promote the themes to the “metaphysical” level only when they become closely linked to the themes and present the spiritual intentions of the themes.
As an emerging sector in the development of Chinese fine arts, comprehensive material paintings shoulder the responsibility of the times to develop contemporary easel art. Its contemporaneity borrows from international art achievements and forms connections with current cultural context. The rapidly changing revolution of the times, abundant social life, and the variety and diversity of creative themes and forms all require corresponding materials and techniques to present.
As a result, a good artwork not only carries back our pursuit to “classics”, but also provokes thinking on “the present era”. The warmth of an artwork should contain historical and current factors, objective and subjective elements and others. The inclusion of explorations on historical and contemporary significance sublimes the themes.
Comprehensive Material Paintings and Artwork Conservation and Restoration Art Committee
China Artists Association