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A Foresighted Dream in the Chunshui Painting Academy: Exhibition in Commemoration of the 140th Birthday Anniversary of Gao Jianfu

Release time:19-04-11

Born in 1879 in Panyu, Guangdong province, Gao Jianfu was a renowned Chinese painter and principal founder of Lingnan School of Painting. Gao started to paint under the instruction of Ju Lian (1828--1904) in 1892, and went to Japan to study fine arts in 1905. He joined the United League of China during his stay in Japan. In 1908, he held his solo exhibition in Guangzhou, which marked the establishment of the Lingnan School of Painting. After the Revolution of 1911, he withdrew from the political stage and devoted himself to the exploration and creation in rejuvenating Chinese painting. In 1921, he was appointed as the Vice President of the First Fine Arts Exhibition of Guangdong province, and proved himself as a pivotal figure in the art circle of Guangdong. In 1923, Chunshui Painting Academy was founded in Guangdong as the base of his art revolution. He went to India and neighboring countries for artistic study and held art exhibitions in 1930. He became professor of the Sun Yat-Sen University in 1934 and professor of the National Central University in Nanjing in 1936. In 1946 and 1947, he founded Zhongnan Fine Arts College and Guangzhou Municipal Art College. He passed away in Macao in 1951.
In the history of modern Lingnan culture, Gao Jianfu was the first artist who made outstanding contributions to Chinese fine arts. After the Revolution of 1911, he was center of attention in Chinese painting and became a prominent master eventually. Moreover, the Lingnan School of Painting that he established had developed into a painting genre with national influence.
In Gao’s view, Chinese painting should catch up with the development of society, and the old-fashioned tradition in painting since the Qing Dynasty should be discarded. He advocated the art revolution which mingled foreign realistic painting techniques with the essence of ancient and modern as well as Chinese and foreign arts, creating a kind of brand-new Chinese painting adaptable to the new era. Later generations summarized his idea as the compromise between East and West, and the fusion of ancient and modern. These features finally became the dominant symbols of Lingnan Painting School.
In his works of mature period, Gao abandoned tenderness and softness, and insisted on vigour and power. He shaped bold and vigorous images as if the brush was sharpened by knives and axes. He emphasized accentuated lines and aesthetic feelings, pursued extreme freedom, and forged intense visual effect as well as a strong and profound approach.
Keeping himself ahead of his times, Gao led the trend. His art theory and practices have become an indispensable and important resource in China's modern art innovation movement, which is of great pioneering significance.
On this occasion of the 140th Birthday Anniversary of Gao Jianfu, the Guangzhou Museum of Art along with other prestigious domestic cultural institutions and museums jointly present this exhibition with our collections. In an effort to show the creativity of the artist and his outstanding artistic style, we also take this opportunity to commemorate this master of the Lingnan School of Painting.