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.
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.
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.
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.
Each Cheng Shifa painting has its own distinctive tone. “Welcoming Guests” is full of joy, visible in the artist’s portrayal of the characters and flowers. His creative technique is eye-catching and pleasing, the result of years of experience and exploration.
The sixth painting in this series is by HE Tianjian (1891-1977), a leading member of the Shanghai-style art movement. This work is inspired by a poem of MAO Zedong’s, Shaoshan Revisited, the verse “And all around heroes home-bound in the evening mist” in particular.