Liu Xian: Wood-Engraving Master

  • Dates:2019-09-08 - 2019-10-07
  • Location:CAFAM Gallery 4F
  • Opening:2019-09-18 14:00
  • Organizer(s): CAFAM
  • Organizer: CAFAM
  • Chief Planner: Fan Di'an
  • Art Director: Zhang Zikang
  • Curator: Li Yaochen

Details

His works are full of brightness and clarity, creating a comfortable and vast atmosphere filled in every detail of the painting, reaching a new height of the time by transforming Chinese printmaking into a casual creative style by absorbing western art essence.

Preface

Foreword

In the course of the development of Chinese art in the first half the 20th century, the emerging printmaking movement was a vigorous artistic force where cultural ideals were promoted, the idea of facing real life was encouraged, and great art works were shinning. A large number of artists had gathered together, seeking truth in thought, and bravely breaking the traditional rules in art. They had written a moving art chapter in the moving national liberation movement, showing the new quality and majestic power of culture. In this group, Mr. Liu Xian was an original participant and a consistent insister. His contribution to the Chinese printmaking history had given him eternal brilliance. 

Under the enlightenment of the May Fourth New Culture Thought and the cultural situation of salvation of the nation, Liu Xian had a strong passion since he was young. Lu Xun, the flag-bearer of the emerging printmaking movement, was not only Liu Xian’s spiritual mentor, but also a creative instructor who gave Liu Xian direct guidance. Liu Xian created illustrations for Lu Xun’s works. In Lu Xun’s wood-engraving works collection, Liu Xian’s art works accounted for the largest number. Owing to this relationship, Liu Xian’s art was based on reflecting social problems while insisting on the pursuit of the soul. It was like looking for the spiritual destination in the dark sky at night, using the thought of art and pen of effort to ignite the flame. 

After the outbreak of the War of Resistance Against Japan, Liu Xian resolutely stopped studying in Japan, coming back to his motherland to participate in the anti-Japanese salvation campaign with his companions from wood-engraving field. He then went to Yan’an to work as a wood-engraving teacher in the Department of Fine Arts in  the Lu Xun Aacemy of Fine Arts, where he dedicated himself to art creation. Chairman Mao Zedong spoke highly of Liu Xian’s art works which recorded the anti-Japanese warfare and praised the work and life of people in Democratic Base. He said: “I don’t know the disciplines of wood-engraving, but I like appreciating it. Comrade Liu Xian has been here for just a short period, but he has created many art works. I hope that he continues to work hard on the creation of new art for our country.” Inspired by Mao Zedong’s literary thoughts, Liu Xian and other artists in Yan’an worked together along the direction of New Art, played an important role in attacking the enemy and inspiring the people by creating revolutionary artworks. 

Born with talent and growing up with deep understanding of art, Liu Xian tends to be detailed in his wood-engraving technique. Learning from western printmaking, he innovated a new format of wood-engraving (木口木刻). The artworks created with the new technique had a rigorous composition and exquisite shape with the burin and ink lines seamlessly integrated with the wood grain texture. His works are full of brightness and clarity, creating a comfortable and vast atmosphere filled in every detail of the painting, reaching a new height of the time by transforming Chinese printmaking into a  casual creative style by absorbing western art essence.   

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Liu Xian bore in mind the change of the times and the new yearning for “beauty” in the society, Liu Xian themed his artworks to expression of natural life and fable stories. The style became fresher and more comfortable. He expressed his praises of the new society and of the simple life in a large number of artworks and book illustrations, represented by his work series Hundred Flowers Blossom.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement and the 70th anniversary of the founding of new China. It is very realistic for understanding the artistic contribution of Mr. Liu Xian and the spirit of exploration of a generation of predecessors by holding the "Liu Xian: Wood-Engraving Master” exhibition. Looking closely at the traces of the burins and pens is like listening to the sound of wood pecking. Who can say that the tiny wood-engraving is not a miniature of the era and Mr Liu Xian’s art life?


                                                                       Fan Di’an

September 2019


Foreword

In the course of the development of Chinese art in the first half the 20th century, the emerging printmaking movement was a vigorous artistic force where cultural ideals were promoted, the idea of facing real life was encouraged, and great art works were shinning. A large number of artists had gathered together, seeking truth in thought, and bravely breaking the traditional rules in art. They had written a moving art chapter in the moving national liberation movement, showing the new quality and majestic power of culture. In this group, Mr. Liu Xian was an original participant and a consistent insister. His contribution to the Chinese printmaking history had given him eternal brilliance. 

Under the enlightenment of the May Fourth New Culture Thought and the cultural situation of salvation of the nation, Liu Xian had a strong passion since he was young. Lu Xun, the flag-bearer of the emerging printmaking movement, was not only Liu Xian’s spiritual mentor, but also a creative instructor who gave Liu Xian direct guidance. Liu Xian created illustrations for Lu Xun’s works. In Lu Xun’s wood-engraving works collection, Liu Xian’s art works accounted for the largest number. Owing to this relationship, Liu Xian’s art was based on reflecting social problems while insisting on the pursuit of the soul. It was like looking for the spiritual destination in the dark sky at night, using the thought of art and pen of effort to ignite the flame. 

After the outbreak of the War of Resistance Against Japan, Liu Xian resolutely stopped studying in Japan, coming back to his motherland to participate in the anti-Japanese salvation campaign with his companions from wood-engraving field. He then went to Yan’an to work as a wood-engraving teacher in the Department of Fine Arts in  the Lu Xun Aacemy of Fine Arts, where he dedicated himself to art creation. Chairman Mao Zedong spoke highly of Liu Xian’s art works which recorded the anti-Japanese warfare and praised the work and life of people in Democratic Base. He said: “I don’t know the disciplines of wood-engraving, but I like appreciating it. Comrade Liu Xian has been here for just a short period, but he has created many art works. I hope that he continues to work hard on the creation of new art for our country.” Inspired by Mao Zedong’s literary thoughts, Liu Xian and other artists in Yan’an worked together along the direction of New Art, played an important role in attacking the enemy and inspiring the people by creating revolutionary artworks. 

Born with talent and growing up with deep understanding of art, Liu Xian tends to be detailed in his wood-engraving technique. Learning from western printmaking, he innovated a new format of wood-engraving (木口木刻). The artworks created with the new technique had a rigorous composition and exquisite shape with the burin and ink lines seamlessly integrated with the wood grain texture. His works are full of brightness and clarity, creating a comfortable and vast atmosphere filled in every detail of the painting, reaching a new height of the time by transforming Chinese printmaking into a  casual creative style by absorbing western art essence.   

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Liu Xian bore in mind the change of the times and the new yearning for “beauty” in the society, Liu Xian themed his artworks to expression of natural life and fable stories. The style became fresher and more comfortable. He expressed his praises of the new society and of the simple life in a large number of artworks and book illustrations, represented by his work series Hundred Flowers Blossom.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement and the 70th anniversary of the founding of new China. It is very realistic for understanding the artistic contribution of Mr. Liu Xian and the spirit of exploration of a generation of predecessors by holding the "Liu Xian: Wood-Engraving Master” exhibition. Looking closely at the traces of the burins and pens is like listening to the sound of wood pecking. Who can say that the tiny wood-engraving is not a miniature of the era and Mr Liu Xian’s art life?


                                                                       Fan Di’an

September 2019


Artworks

Artworks

Photographs

Photographs

Related essays

101幅木刻花卉 共咏《百花齐放》 ...

2019-10-08

(木刻)用在刊物的装饰,文学或科学的插图上,也就成为大家的东西。——鲁迅在五十年代末,刘岘的最重要木口木刻专题作品是为郭沫若的诗集《百花齐放》所配的插图。1958年,为宣传“百花齐放”的方针,郭沫若用了10天时间,选择100种花为题目,写了101首咏花的新诗。这些诗在诗的结构上,表现为“形象描述———政治概念”的公式,即从对花的形态、肌理特征的描述,上升为对政治命题的说明。《人民日报》邀请当时著名版画家刘岘、黄永玉、沃渣、李桦、马克等11位版画家为之配图,并在报纸上连续刊载,一共创作了一百零一幅木刻画。1959年,由人民日报出版社集结编辑,一首诗配一幅木刻画,用两色套印印成《百花齐放》一书,其中收录刘岘35幅木口木刻花卉作品。此书一经出版便受到社会的好评,成为当时的热门出版物。木刻插图本郭沫若诗集《百花齐放》,1959年初版,人民日报出版社印行后来郭沫若又邀请刘岘单独为101首诗作单幅花卉插图,于1959年内,在上海文艺出版社出版精装本。刘岘极为重视此次创作,为了每一张插图木刻的准确与生动,他经常去中山公园等地花房实地考察花卉实体,还参考相关典籍学习参考。刘岘将写实的花与他内心对花的感受融为一体,勾勒出单线草图,全凭对线条的精准把握,在木板上放刀直刻。在不到一年的时间里,完成了所有花卉插图的刻制,有的因为精益求精,不满意的就重刻,他曾举例说牡丹和芍药刻制了不下五遍。此书一出,更是获得了成功,花朵的蹁跹开合,枝叶的扶疏交错,每种花各异的质感、神采,无不显现出作者刻画之游刃有余。刘岘正是通过刻画花卉呼唤美,赞颂生命。刘岘为郭沫若刻制的木口木刻画像吴伯萧称之为“是极为艰苦的创造,是战斗是巧夺天工”,王得后说《百花齐放》是“堪称木刻大师的标志”,“他把画中的花卉赋予了丰富的精神内涵,寻找到并表现出能够触动人们心灵的因素,绝不是简单的唯美的随心所欲”。工作中的刘岘结合郭沫若的诗歌来欣赏这些花卉木刻作品,我们会感受到强烈的时代气息;若将它们单独陈列,那份气宇轩昂、仪态万千的精气,也会从画中自然流露。刘岘为了抓住每种花的特点,反复观察研究,还多次与郭沫若书信讨论。通过这套作品,刘岘参与创造了一种书籍装饰的时代风格。百花齐放创作期间,刘岘在研究花卉《百花齐放》,郭沫若著,刘岘插图,1959年,上海文艺出版社 | 百花诗节选 |《腊梅花》在冬天开花已经不算甚么稀奇,掌握了自然规律可以改变花期。不是已经有短日照菊开在春天?我相信腊梅也可以开在夏季。我们希望能够参加“五一”和“六一”,也希望赶上“七一”“八一”“十一”献礼。园艺家们,科学家们,请你们试一试,让我们能够与荷花、桂花开放同时。百花齐放之腊梅花 9cmx14cm 1959年 山茶花 简单得很,我们只是一种单瓣,但花红蕊黄,颜色又深又鲜。开在浓绿的叶丛中,满枝满树,开在蓊郁的山地里,满磵满山。山地的姑娘们也是一样简单,他们朴素、健康、诚恳、大方、能干。面孔黄如镀金,两颊红如燃炭,头上戴朵山茶花,哎呀,真好看。百花齐放之山茶花,9cmx14cm,1959年 迎春花 春天来了,我们的花开得比较早,金黄色的小小喇叭,压满了枝条。花多,花期长,或许是我们的好处,缺少香气,认真说是有点儿单调。不过,我们的枝条还相当的柔软,可以让园艺家们作任意的蟠缠。嫩绿的叶子也不容易改变颜色,在缺少花的时节勉强可以过关。百花齐放之迎春花,10cmx15cm,1959年 蒲公英 倒不稀罕人们所宝贵的黄金,在转瞬间会把黄金变成白银。银色的种籽,是一团空降部队,但我们是向大地中投下生命。中国大夫知道我们的药性,他们会用我们来治病救人。很好,我们实在是热爱中国,我们是大地之子,别名地丁。百花齐放之蒲公英,9cmx14cm,1959年 昙花 是的,我们的花时实在是太短,我们只知有今宵,不知有明天。要牺牲睡眠才能和我们见面,落得形成一个成语“昙花一现”。快而不多,好而不省,是大缺点;人们偏爱,却把缺点当成美满。如果没有办法把这生性改变,受着人们重视不免感觉羞惭。百花齐放之昙花,9cmx14cm,1959年 白兰花 小白兰花倒没有什么新奇,清甜的香韵可和春兰相比。淡青色的叶子经常显得鲜腻,护惜着花朵怕无端受了风雨。上海姑娘们喜欢在街头叫卖,那卖花的声音真是十分可爱。“白兰花呢!”清脆得比我们香甜,因此,使我们的香韵添了一倍。百花齐放之白兰花,9cmx14cm,1959年百花齐放之其他一切花,18x23cm,1958年展览现场展览将持续至10月7日,欢迎参观。《百花齐放》101幅插图一览  刘岘于1958年创作的《百花齐放》插图,共26幅。 More
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(3) This agreement exists in paper and electronic forms. The paper form is made in duplicate, with Party A and Party B each retaining one copy with the same legal efficacy.

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This event was organized on the principles of fairness, impartiality, and voluntary participation and withdrawal. Participants undertake all risk and liability for themselves. All events have risks, and participants must be aware of the risks related to their chosen event.

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Event participants undertake all liability for their personal safety during the event, and event participants are encouraged to purchase personal safety insurance. Should an accident occur during an event, persons not involved in the accident and the museum do not undertake any liability for the accident, but both have the obligation to provide assistance. Event participants should actively organize and implement rescue efforts, but do not undertake any legal or economic liability for the accident itself. The museum does not undertake civil or joint liability for the personal safety of event participants.

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During the event, event participants should respect the order of the museum event and ensure the safety of the museum site, the artworks in displays, exhibitions, and collections, and the derived products. If an event causes any degree of loss or damage to the museum site, space, artworks, or derived products due to an individual, persons not involved in the accident and the museum do not undertake any liability for losses. The event participant must negotiate and provide compensation according to the relevant legal statutes and museum rules. The museum may sue for legal and financial liability.

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Event participants will participate in the event under the guidance of museum staff and event leaders or instructors and must correctly use the painting tools, materials, equipment, and/or facilities provided for the event. If a participant causes injury or harm to him/herself or others while using the painting tools, materials, equipment, and/or facilities, or causes the damage or destruction of the tools, materials, equipment, and/or facilities, the event participant must undertake all related liability and provide compensation for the financial losses. Persons not involved in the accident and the museum do not undertake any liability for personal accidents.

CAFA Art Museum Portraiture Rights Licensing Agreement

According to The Advertising Law of the People’s Republic of China, The General Principles of the Civil Law of the People’s Republic of China, and The Provisional Opinions of the Supreme People’s Court on Some Issues Related to the Full Implementation of the General Principles of the Civil Law of the People’s Republic of China, and upon friendly negotiation, Party A and Party B have arrived at the following agreement regarding the use of works bearing Party A’s image in order to clarify the rights and obligations of the portrait licenser (Party A) and the user (Party B):

I. General Provisions

(1) Party A is the portraiture rights holder in this agreement. Party A voluntarily licenses its portraiture rights to Party B for the purposes stipulated in this agreement and permitted by law.

(2) Party B (CAFA Art Museum) is a specialized, international modern art museum. CAFA Art Museum keeps pace with the times, and works to create an open, free, and academic space and atmosphere for positive interaction with groups, corporations, institutions, artists, and visitors. With CAFA’s academic research as a foundation, the museum plans multi-disciplinary exhibitions, conferences, and public education events with participants from around the world, providing a platform for exchange, learning, and exhibition for CAFA’s students and instructors, artists from around the world, and the general public. As a public institution, the primary purposes of CAFA Art Museum’s public education events are academic and beneficial to society.

(3) Party B will photograph all CAFA Public Education Department events for Party A.

II. Content, Forms of Use, and Geographical Scope of Use

(1) Content. The content of images taken by Party B bearing Party A’s likeness include: ① CAFA Art Museum ② CAFA campus ③ All events planned or executed by the CAFAM Public Education Department.

(2) Forms of Use. For use in CAFA’s publications, products with CDs, and promotional materials.

(3) Geographical Scope of Use

The applicable geographic scope is global.

The media in which the portraiture may be used encompasses any media that does not infringe upon Party A’s portraiture rights (e.g., magazines and the internet).

III. Term of Portraiture Rights Use

Use in perpetuity.

IV. Licensing Fees

The fees for images bearing Party A’s likeness will be undertaken by Party B.

After completion, Party B does not need to pay any fees to Party A for images bearing Party A’s likeness.

Additional Terms

(1) All matters not discussed in this agreement shall be resolved through friendly negotiation between both parties. Both parties may then sign a supplementary agreement, provided it does not violate any laws or regulations.

(2) This agreement comes into effect on the date that it is signed (sealed) and the relevant boxes are selected by Party A and Party B.

(3) This agreement exists in paper and electronic forms. The paper form is made in duplicate, with Party A and Party B each retaining one copy with the same legal efficacy.

Event participants implicitly accept and undertake all the obligations stated in this agreement. Those who do not consent will be seen as abandoning the right to participate in this event. Before participating in this event, please speak to your family members to obtain their consent and inform them of this disclaimer. After participants sign/check the required box, participants and their families will be seen as having read and agreed to these terms.

I have carefully read and agree to the above provisions.

Group Visit Agreement
and Statement

CAFA Art Museum Publication Authorization Agreement

I fully agree to CAFA Art Museum (CAFAM) submitting to CAFA for publication the images, pictures, texts, writings, and event products (such as works created during participation in workshops) related to me from my participation in public events (including museum member events) organized by the CAFA Art Museum Public Education Department. CAFA can publish these materials by electronic, web, or other digital means, and I hereby agree to be included in the China Knowledge Resource Bank, the CAFA Database, the CAFA Art Museum Database, and related data, documentation, and filing institutions and platforms. Regarding their use in CAFA and dissemination on the internet, I agree to make use of these rights according to the stated Rules.

CAFA Art Museum Event Safety Disclaimer

Article I

This event was organized on the principles of fairness, impartiality, and voluntary participation and withdrawal. Participants undertake all risk and liability for themselves. All events have risks, and participants must be aware of the risks related to their chosen event.

Article II

Event participants must abide by the laws and regulations of the People’s Republic of China, as well as moral and ethical norms. All participants must demonstrate good character, respect for others, friendship, and a willingness to help others.

Article III

Event participants should be adults (people 18 years or older with full civil legal capacity). Underage persons must be accompanied by an adult.

Article IV

Event participants undertake all liability for their personal safety during the event, and event participants are encouraged to purchase personal safety insurance. Should an accident occur during an event, persons not involved in the accident and the museum do not undertake any liability for the accident, but both have the obligation to provide assistance. Event participants should actively organize and implement rescue efforts, but do not undertake any legal or economic liability for the accident itself. The museum does not undertake civil or joint liability for the personal safety of event participants.

Article V

During the event, event participants should respect the order of the museum event and ensure the safety of the museum site, the artworks in displays, exhibitions, and collections, and the derived products. If an event causes any degree of loss or damage to the museum site, space, artworks, or derived products due to an individual, persons not involved in the accident and the museum do not undertake any liability for losses. The event participant must negotiate and provide compensation according to the relevant legal statutes and museum rules. The museum may sue for legal and financial liability.

Article VI

Event participants will participate in the event under the guidance of museum staff and event leaders or instructors and must correctly use the painting tools, materials, equipment, and/or facilities provided for the event. If a participant causes injury or harm to him/herself or others while using the painting tools, materials, equipment, and/or facilities, or causes the damage or destruction of the tools, materials, equipment, and/or facilities, the event participant must undertake all related liability and provide compensation for the financial losses. Persons not involved in the accident and the museum do not undertake any liability for personal accidents.

CAFA Art Museum Portraiture Rights Licensing Agreement

According to The Advertising Law of the People’s Republic of China, The General Principles of the Civil Law of the People’s Republic of China, and The Provisional Opinions of the Supreme People’s Court on Some Issues Related to the Full Implementation of the General Principles of the Civil Law of the People’s Republic of China, and upon friendly negotiation, Party A and Party B have arrived at the following agreement regarding the use of works bearing Party A’s image in order to clarify the rights and obligations of the portrait licenser (Party A) and the user (Party B):

I. General Provisions

(1) Party A is the portraiture rights holder in this agreement. Party A voluntarily licenses its portraiture rights to Party B for the purposes stipulated in this agreement and permitted by law.

(2) Party B (CAFA Art Museum) is a specialized, international modern art museum. CAFA Art Museum keeps pace with the times, and works to create an open, free, and academic space and atmosphere for positive interaction with groups, corporations, institutions, artists, and visitors. With CAFA’s academic research as a foundation, the museum plans multi-disciplinary exhibitions, conferences, and public education events with participants from around the world, providing a platform for exchange, learning, and exhibition for CAFA’s students and instructors, artists from around the world, and the general public. As a public institution, the primary purposes of CAFA Art Museum’s public education events are academic and beneficial to society.

(3) Party B will photograph all CAFA Public Education Department events for Party A.

II. Content, Forms of Use, and Geographical Scope of Use

(1) Content. The content of images taken by Party B bearing Party A’s likeness include: ① CAFA Art Museum ② CAFA campus ③ All events planned or executed by the CAFAM Public Education Department.

(2) Forms of Use. For use in CAFA’s publications, products with CDs, and promotional materials.

(3) Geographical Scope of Use

The applicable geographic scope is global.

The media in which the portraiture may be used encompasses any media that does not infringe upon Party A’s portraiture rights (e.g., magazines and the internet).

III. Term of Portraiture Rights Use

Use in perpetuity.

IV. Licensing Fees

The fees for images bearing Party A’s likeness will be undertaken by Party B.

After completion, Party B does not need to pay any fees to Party A for images bearing Party A’s likeness.

Additional Terms

(1) All matters not discussed in this agreement shall be resolved through friendly negotiation between both parties. Both parties may then sign a supplementary agreement, provided it does not violate any laws or regulations.

(2) This agreement comes into effect on the date that it is signed (sealed) and the relevant boxes are selected by Party A and Party B.

(3) This agreement exists in paper and electronic forms. The paper form is made in duplicate, with Party A and Party B each retaining one copy with the same legal efficacy.

Event participants implicitly accept and undertake all the obligations stated in this agreement. Those who do not consent will be seen as abandoning the right to participate in this event. Before participating in this event, please speak to your family members to obtain their consent and inform them of this disclaimer. After participants sign/check the required box, participants and their families will be seen as having read and agreed to these terms.

I have carefully read and agree to the above provisions.

Event Booking Form

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Reminder:

Hello! Thank you for participating in our public education event and we are looking forward to seeing you! If you cannot attend the event on time, please send a text message to 13261936837 (Liang) to cancel the booking. Please be aware that your eligibility for using the quick booking may be affected If you cancel the booking more than three times. Thank you for your understanding!