Dispatches from China: “Shape” — CAFA Faculty Exhibition

Editorial Note: Printeresting would like to introduce a new foreign correspondent to our ranks. American expat Joanna Swan is currently living in Beijing, China and has volunteered to keep us informed on any interesting printmaking she finds there. You can read more of her writings about China here. Welcome aboard, Joanna!

The Central Academy of Fine Arts is China’s most prestigious art school. Running under the direct charge of the Department of Education, it has produced some of the country’s shiniest stars and the New York Times recently suggested that even fresh-faced graduates are riding the lucrative waves of the Great Republic’s burgeoning art scene.

The most recent exhibit at CAFA’s dazzlingly colossal if not somewhat armadillo-esque Art Museum (designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki in 2008) showcases not the students of this fine institution, but 100 of its faculty members (the actual number of teachers totals over 500). While figurative oil painting definitely dominated the exhibition, some choice prints and drawings stood out as well.

A quick note: While the employees at the Museum were all helpful and friendly, all signs, wall tags, and descriptions were only written in characters, so please excuse any rusty translating, absent artists’ names, and/or mis-labeling of artists’ works.

Tan Ping’s black and white woodcut, “Untitled”, filled a few walls and dialogued with itself in most intriguing ways.

Do shadows count as prints?

Lots of the figurative work at the CAFA focused on an understanding of the indefatigable Worker. (I need only open my window between the hours of 6 am and midnight to the unceasing construction labor sounds to be reminded of a work ethic (or lack thereof?) quite unlike any 9-5er in California).

Li Xiao Lin’s “Mine Survivors”, a lithograph from 2009–a more nuanced portrayal, neither glorious nor maudlin.

One of the few non-figurative works, a colorful screenprint by Zhang Guilin.

Tan Quanshu

Another print by Tan Quanshu. This linoleum (woodcut?) print is so reminiscent of pre-WWII Berlin for some reason. Also love the juxtaposition between the two wardrobes.

“Six, then seven” (Seven United Paintings), by the painter Chen Ji in the airy foyer.

Reminiscent of Marlene Dumas’s Jesus paintings

A Boba Fett-ish piece from Tang Hui’s “Hero Series”

Finally, a 20-foot-long woodcut entitled “New Gods”, viewable under glass:



A sweet ship!
Phoenixes!  Artist Yang Hongwei carved this work. It must have taken eons.

Though this be a post on printmaking, I couldn’t help but smuggle in some stellar paintings from the show:

Wang Yuping’s dad-son painting so aptly encapsulates the rift between old-new that I’ve seen in Beijing (and on a few other continents as well…).

Yu Hong, a prominent female painter in China, also has an exhibit at the UCCA currently–frescoes on the ceiling! Like so many things in China, her paintings seem to dwarf everything that stands before them, even 6’4″ Galen.



Li Fan’s colorful figurative paintings: the farthest left is titled “The Red in my Heart” (or at least, so says Google Translate…)

14,777 square meters later, sore feet enjoined a rest, a sip of tea, and a (bottle or two of) Tsingtao.  This exhibit closed on October 7, 2010 but the CAFA Art Museum can be found at Hua Jia Di Nan Street, Chaoyang District, Beijing. Just keep your eyes peeled for a plated globular structure resembling an armadillo.

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Categories: Exhibitions

2 Responses to “Dispatches from China: “Shape” — CAFA Faculty Exhibition”

  1. Awesome! Magnitude!
    Great coverage.