Chen Long (born 1943), Zhou Ruolan (born 1942), 'The Splendour of the Fisher Women' dated 1979, horizontal scroll (detail), ink and paint on silk.

God-like Humans, Human Gods
Painting the Figure in the 20th Century

from: 21.12.2010 to: 17.04.2011

Museum für Asiatische Kunst

The immense changes that took place in Chinese society over the course of the 20th century are also reflected in the new importance assigned to the painting of the figure. The realistic depiction of people from contemporary life became one of the major concerns of the day. New kinds of pictures depicting people even found their way into 'guohua', the form of painting using the classic media of brush and ink. At the same time though, subjects relating to popular beliefs remained unchanging. Motifs of a mythological nature that claim to bring good fortune and prosperity have remained popular and are a recurrent theme to this day.

In the 20th century, the diversity of ethnic groups living within China's borders became a new topic in painting. Such diversity inspired artists to create romanticising portraits. In the spirit of Maoist cultural policy, people at work, typified as heroes and imbued with optimism, stood at the heart of such depictions. In such images, figures were seldom ever portrayed as individuals. Critical reflection on the other hand, the questioning of inner and external views and the depiction of doubt, fear or unease were things more readily seen in portraits and self-portraits. Parallel to this, traditional woodcuts and book illustrations provided many artists with the inspiration to continue their work.

Organizer:

Museum für Asiatische Kunst