Art Journal: 
Visit Art Show at the National Art Museum in Beijing, China

(Pictures left) One of the large paintings that are exhibited on the three floors of the museum;
(right) close-up picture of the same painting.

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 pieces of top works from thousands of paintings all over the country.  The Exhibit  were chosen by Art Committees of The China Artists Association.

(Picture right) the newly renovated museum

Background: 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

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: A 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.

About the author:

Luo Suya (Soraya Runckel)

Born in Bangkok, Thailand, the daughter of a noted architect and artist renown for his works on Thai architecture, Soraya developed her deep interest in drawing and painting at an early age. She paints in watercolor, pen&ink, acrylic and Chinese Brush paintings. Soraya studied Chinese brush painting for 13 years. She lived and worked in Beijing, China, from 1996 to 1999. Soraya's works have been exhibited extensively, in Thailand, England, USA, Vietnam and China.

The wife of a formal Senior diplomat, Soraya has traveled extensively. Her work reflects culture and scenes of places she has been to. Her work gives positive feeling, details, and variety. In her previous exhibition in London, Soraya was noted as " artist with skill and mastery in different styles," by the London Times.

Soraya owned and operated her art gallery in the U.S., Asia Art Gallery, from 2001-2003.

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