One of my trip back to Beijing took place on the last week of April 2011, just in time for a reopening of a newly renovated National Art Museum in Beijing, China, after being closed for three years. The National Art Museum of China, built in Dongcheng district in 1963, opened its doors to the public again after major renovation on April 1, 2011 The museum, as a promotion, was offering entrance free-of-charge and the exhibits featured outstanding collections of Gong-Bi style Chinese brush paintings to celebrate its reopening. The show was spectacular - with over 400 large pieces of top works from thousands of paintings all over the country. The Exhibit were chosen by Art Committees of The China Artists Association.
Gong-bi Techniques in Chinese Brush Painting
There are two main techniques in Chinese painting: one is meticulous style called Gong-bi, or sometimes referred to as court-style painting. Another style is freehand, called Shui-mo. The Chinese character "mo" means ink and "shui" means water; which help explain this technique that relies on vivid brushwork and varying degrees of intensity of ink to express the artist's conception of nature, emotions and individuality (this style is also referred to as "Xie-yi" or “sketch of(one’s) thoughts”).
Gong-bi style is usually taught to beginning painters in order to introduce them to the use of brush, ink, colors, paper, composition, space and other concepts of Chinese brush painting. The Gong-bi technique, founded approximately 2000 years ago during the Han Dynasty, uses highly detailed brushstrokes that delimits details very precisely and, opposite of Shui-mo, without independent or expressive variation. Gong-bi requires drawing with fine lines first, and then adds washes of ink and color layer by layer, multiple times. Because of these layers, some of the fine paintings in Gong-bi style could take years to finish.
Best works of Gong Bi Paintings at the Show
The artists that were selected for this inaugural exhibition were national top artists that committed themselves to Gong-bi style. They have followed the strict rules of Gong-bi and somewhat stretched the theme to their maximum imagination; for example their themes displayed in the show were varied across
the board: from ancient-style flowers, landscape and farmers to modernized Chinese girls with cell phones, high speed train, etc. depicting the rapid progress of China's economy and society of more prosperity.
The Museum and the transition from Old to New
I also learned from this trip that in a few years, this newly renovated National Art Museum that I just visited would be history. China, just this month, announced its plan to build a new National Art Museum of China, aimed to be the largest art gallery in the World, reported the China Daily.
The new National Art Museum is to be located next to the Bird's Nest, one of Beijing's most famous landmarks. This new museum, which is also listed as a key cultural project in the country's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), will cover almost 130,000 square meters (as opposed to the current museum of 8,300 square meters for exhibition area). The construction is planned to start in the spring of 2012 and should take a few years to complete. Experts said the city's current venues do not have enough space to adequately display works of art, as the residents and tourists continue to show a growing interest toward Beijing's art scenes.
I am looking forward to visiting the new "Largest in the World" art museum, as an advocate for the arts and with my passion in Chinese Art that has inspired me to continue to explore art year after year.
Below, enjoy more of the spectacular paintings from the show!