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The Changing Landscapes of Contemporary Art

(2017-02-06 02:27:36)
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The Changing Landscapes of Contemporary Art

by Shu Yang

      One of the earliest introductions of Canadian modern art to China was "the Group of Seven". In 1983, an exhibition of paintings by Canadian artist Alex Colville was held in the Beijing Exhibition Centre, which consequently exerted a great influence on Chinese contemporary painting. Under the influence of this Canadian artist, the oil painting department students of the Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts developed a style of combining the landscapes and the lifestyle of western China with hard-edged figure painting, a widely different approach from the originally prevalent Soviet-style painting. In recent years, few large-scale exhibitions of contemporary Canadian art have been held in China, needless to say in Xi’an, and most Chinese artists have probably only heard of Jeff Wall as far as Canadian contemporary art goes. The exhibition, The Transformation of Landscape Art in Canada: The Inside & Outside of Being, held in the Xi’an Art Museum, will provide a rare opportunity for the public of Xi’an and China to learn about Canadian contemporary art.

       Canadian art produced a very marked and distinct artistic style of landscape painting. “The Transformation of Landscape Art in Canada” takes this well-known Canadian theme of landscape as the main subject, presenting the richness of Canadian contemporary art from a multi-cultural perspective. Here, Canadian artists not only present their own cultural experience, but furthermore present concepts that override ethnic and culture-specific aspects. Currently this art scene not only draws from the perspective of its historical and cultural background being part of the northern American continent, but is also deeply linked to the whole globalized world scene, and thus from the works in this exhibition it can be seen that the creative lineage of contemporary art has risen above the national ideologies that politics and economy represent. It is in this manner of transcending secular power whereby the openness and independent values of creativity can be determined. Even if Chinese artists today are unfamiliar with the creators of the works in The Transformation of Landscape Art in Canada, they will nevertheless accept the creative experience offered by their Canadian counterparts. The “global village” depicted by the global media theory pioneer Marshall McLuhan, is also the real blueprint that is taking shape in today’s global landscape of contemporary art.

        The Xi'an Art Museum opened its doors five years ago, and has held exhibitions including "German Contemporary Art Exhibition" (2010), "Made in Britain: Contemporary Art from the British Council Collection 1980-2010"(2011), a solo exhibition of works by Jannis Kounellis (2012), the most representative artist of the renowned Italy’s movement "Poor Art”, and other important international contemporary art exhibitions, becoming the most important window promoting international contemporary art in Xi’an. Adhering to the mission of building upon urban culture, the Xi’an Art Museum once again, with this significant exhibition The Transformation of Landscape Art in Canada: The Inside & Outside of Being, shows the local public the most outstanding works of Canadian artists, communicating with the world through these artistic interactions. Along with the exhibition, the Art Museum has also organized lectures, workshops and various related activities for both students and the general public, so as to expand the channels of cultural interaction with the public.

Xi’an was known by the name of Chang’an in ancient times, the renowned historical ancient capital of China, nowadays also a cosmopolitan city of which its inhabitants are immensely proud. The ancient “Silk Road” started here, setting up a bridge for exchanges between Asia and Europe. The locality of Qingling, next to Xi’an, also gave birth to the historically famous Chinese landscape painting style that came to influence later generations in a great manner. The glorious legacy of a city not only lies in its heritage, but also needs to reflect on the vitality of innovation. Xi’an’s rich traditional culture can also become a rich creative resource for a modernization of tradition, creating a new value for the city.  Let’s hope that the promotion of contemporary art by the Xi’an Art Museum creates new bridges between historical context and contemporary life, between regional culture and universal values that communicate to the world. The Museum’s exhibit The Transformation of Landscape Art in Canada: The Inside & Outside of Being will without a doubt add a gush of color to this newly forming cultural scroll.

Xi’an Museum of Art
30th of July, 2014

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