Contemporary artists in China often mention two stories when it comes to tradition:
The first one concerns the 'runaway', an artist who has been brought up in traditional culture but is fed up with academy training so much so he finds himself literally locked up in a box. One day after his experience he recognises the diversified world out of the box and rids himself of the tradition and embraces contemporary art. The other is about 'return' and relates to a contemporary artist who has denied traditional art for many years, yet during an overseas trip suddenly recalls good memories and so makes the decision to return to traditional art.
These two stories are often shared in talks or self-descriptive dialogues with artists using them to explain their work. Similarly, curators, collectors and the art media always find them impressive so these two stories are repeated and have themselves become a narrative of a mode of awareness.
Through war and revolution, China’s Central Academy of Fine Art (CAFA) has promoted China’s artists and safeguarded its cultural heritage. Protecting while at the same time re-creating tradition has made CAFA vibrant and in the vanguard for a hundred years – this is the tradition of CAFA and it is reflected in its centenary exhibition Tradition is the Power for Invention.
In the thousands of years of China’s history, tradition has been constantly recreated but it has never become a formulaic or restricted way of working; CAFA’s artists therefore cannot be defined as exclusively creative, over-mannered or results-driven – instead they are deeply engaged in a tradition of change and re-invention.
This reflection on tradition has been embodied by the work of its contemporary artists. Over 30 works by internationally renowned Chinese artists including Xu Bing, Sui Jianguo, Su Xinping, Liu Xiaodong, Yu Hong, Qiu Zhijie and Wang Yuyang will be showcased at The Prince's Foundation School of Traditional Arts gallery in Shoreditch during the week of the Frieze Art Fair.
The works in this exhibition are by artists teaching at CAFA. They represent the frontiers of contemporary art in China. In their work we see both realism and Western classicality as well as the rich traditional heritage of Chinese landscape painting and ceramic art, the tradition of Zen, and that of Chinese writing.
The CAFA Centenary Exhibition - Tradition is the Power for Invention is co-curated by Central Academy of Fine Arts, The Prince's Foundation School of Traditional Arts and China Culture Connect.
|Exhibition on view from 5 - 18 October|
|Public opening:||Friday 5 October||18:30 - 20:30|
|Opening hours:||Monday - Friday||9:00 - 21:00|
|Saturday||10:00 - 16:30|