A Wild State and a Lofty Mind: Li Xiongcai’s Paintings Collected by Guangzhou Museum of Art
As one of the outstanding representatives of the Lingnan Painting School, Li Xiongcai (1910—2001) was also a noted modern Chinese painting artist and art educator, who majored in landscape and bird-and-flower.
Born in Zhaoqing, Guangdong Province, Li Xiongcai entered the Zhaoqing Middle School in 1923 and received instruction from Chen Jian, who was a disciple of Ju Lian, the well-known artist in Lingnan bird-and-flower painting. In 1926, he became student of Gao Jianfu, who was the founder of Lingnan Painting School. The next year, he studied at the Chunshui Art Academy which was also established by Gao. From 1932 to 1935 during his overseas study in Japan, Li was deeply influenced by two Japanese painters, namely Yokoyama Taikan (1868-1958) and Hishida Shunso (1874-1911). Upon his return to China, he travelled around the country and did a great number of sketches, turning his elegant style into a more powerful approach. Since 1958, he had been teaching in the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts and created many passionate works that reflected the new era and had a strong flavor of life and a refreshing realm of art. After 1978, his works were famous for their rigorousness and profoundness, with a lot of traditional landscape paintings characterized by the prominence of blue and green colors. In the 1990s, he became more energetic with age and radiated a new artistic vitality. His works developed even further with a deeper implication, featuring thick brushworks and a solid artistic conception, combining force with grace and forming a unique “Li Style of Landscape Painting”.
In regard of bird-and-flower painting, Li’s early works were characterized with imperial court painting style of the Song Dynasty, featuring desolate images and delicate brushworks. In the 1950s when his training of sketching gradually matured, Li started to adopt both freehand and meticulous manners to his bird-and-flower painting, applying free and concise brushstrokes to create precise and interesting images. Besides paying attention to his traditional landscape painting practice, Li also formed his view between objects in the mid-ground and the foreground, which blended bird-and-flowers with landscapes, achieving a harmonious unification between the two subjects in the same painting.
In this exhibition, we select Li’s landscape and bird-and-flower paintings done in his late years between the 1980s and 1990s. His landscape pieces, adopting ink or both ink and color, show his proficient skills and convey a sense of richness and far-reaching meaning. His bird-and-flower pieces, some are traditional bird-and-flowers while some are mixtures with landscapes, exude master techniques, free but orderly; the subjects in these pieces are mainly plants such as plum blossom, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum, which imply a sense of nobility and aloofness, suggesting the lofty mind of this celebrated artist.
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