Jiangnan Culture

The cultural landscape of the Jiangnan region is unique in China. The China Cultural Center in Brussels would like to honor Jiangnan culture by showcasing a selection of artworks.

As a master of contemporary Chinese painting and a leading figure in Shanghai-style painting, CHENG Shifa (1921-2007) is a good representative of Jiangnan culture. The work we are sharing is “Singing the Spring of the Motherland”, which won him first prize in first National Youth Art Exhibition in 1957.

This realist artwork shows a full composition with bright colors. A big family of workers, peasants and soldiers are gathered together in the painting, emblematic of that time period.

CHENG Shifa / 程十发, Singing the spring of the motherland / 歌唱祖国的春天, 137x81cm, 1957

CHENG Shifa / 程十发, Singing the Spring of the Motherland / 歌唱祖国的春天, 137 x 81 cm, 1957

The second painting is “Happy Youth on Holiday” by LI Qiujun (1899-1973). She was one of the artists who established the Chinese Women’s Calligraphy and Painting Association in Shanghai, the first Chinese artist group organized by women.

Her artwork captures two groups of teenagers happily spending their free time in the mountains and rivers. It is a three-stage composition with vividly contrasting colors that make the landscape pop.

LI Qiujun / 李秋君, Happy Youth on Holiday / 幸福少年欢度假日, 107 x 51.5 cm, 1958

Third, “Spring in Yu Garden” by XIE Zhiguang (1900-1976), who graduated from the Private Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts. His painting offers a unique bird’s-eye view of the popular scenic spot in Shanghai. The work radiates an atmosphere of joy and warmth as people gather together in Yu Garden on a beautiful spring day.

XIE Zhiguang / 谢之光, Spring in Yu Garden / 春满豫园, 111 x 62 cm, 1974

Another painting by Cheng Shifa shows the range of this artist. “Flower Planters” is very different in style from “Singing the Spring of the Motherland”, yet it also depicts a scene of a happy gathering. This artwork portrays ethnic minorities from Yunnan, which is visible through different elements, like their clothing and the musical instrument the old man is playing.

CHENG Shifa / 程十发, Flower Planters / 种花人家,136 × 68 cm, 1977