Through their stories, and by examining the influences and innovation manifested in their work, the series explores how they reflect and impact the times they are living in. These artists, while garnering inspiration and strength from traditional Chinese painting and music, are constantly preoccupied with the future of their art in today’s fast-changing world.
“Drawing is also a process of self-cultivation,” says Chen Jialing, a leading figure in the Shanghai School of traditional ink painting. Chen, famous for his depictions of plum blossoms, makes innovative use of free-spirited lines to describe the reality and picture the world around him.
“Painting and life, they were two lines before. As you walk farther and farther, the separate two lines merged into one,” says Jia Guangjian, dean of the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts. Jia, who says he gains inspiration for his painting from real life, has revived the boneless painting style and introduced it into contemporary art.
“A painting should conform to the changes of the times. I follow modern trends,” says Fan Yang, doctoral supervisor at the Chinese National Academy of Arts. Anything that catches his eye can become the subject of a painting, from nurses treating COVID-19 patients, to spectacular scenery. Sensitive to the changing times, Fan has spent many years painting a visual record of developments in the world around him.
“Art prodigy” Wang Mingming learned to paint at the age of five. “I’ve been trying to capture the spirit of the Chinese and identify the artistic conception at the core of the Chinese arts,” he says. Wang has now become convinced that Chinese art must follow a Chinese path.
“We must preserve the essence of ancient art, while reflecting our contemporary spirit and culture,” says Feng Dazhong, an ink painter who was born into a miner’s family in Liaoning Province in 1949. Feng is known for his bold and unconstrained paintings of tigers, which are hailed as “the finest tigers in all the world”.
“I’m all for the popularization of classical music. Since they need it, I’ll do it,” says Zheng Xiaoying, China’s first-ever female symphony conductor and the first Chinese musician to conduct at an opera house abroad. The 93-year-old has devoted her life to nourishing people’s hearts and souls with music. At the end of 2022, she and her student Wu Lingfen, with a combined age of 170, staged the opera “La Traviata”.
Season one of “The Art Beat” has received a warm response from international audiences, who have described it as “inspirational” and “amazing”. The second season, which will be aired in mid-2023, will feature more Chinese artists who are striving to preserve and innovate their art at a time of rapid social change.
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