Bright Future for Chinese Oil Painting
Chinese oil painting during this century has had two missions: to pursue an in-depth study of the Western oil tradition and to develop a .local tradition with strong Chinese characteristics. Through the work of .the early pioneers of Chinese oil painting and the generations of younger artists who came after them, Chinese oil painting has, throughout its various stages of development, attained some major artistic achievements.
The open-door policy reforms of the nineteen-eighties brought brighter prospects for the development of Chinese oil painting. The fruitful results of this period have enabled Chinese oil painting to develop a more cohesive personality, and to make great strides forward in establishing a place in the international art world.
As the twenty-first century approaches, we foresee the fundamental direction of the development of Chinese oil painting to be one which follows the historical trends of art for the people and for society within a more open-door context; and which on an artistic level develops a comprehensive national style and spirit, producing a group of painters of international standard whose contribution will be to provide a positive, creative expression of the modem face and spirit of this ancient people.
It is already over eighty years since. oil painting came to
. In the last forty years or so, and particularly in the last decade, there has been rapid and impressive development. But as contemporary Chinese oil painting has become a valued art commodity, the standard of some of the work has begun to suffer. Fortunately, a large number of painters dedicated to the serious pursuit of oil painting continue to produce works of a high artistic standard.
As Chinese oil painting enters the international art market, the main concern is that, despite increasing commercialization, it not only continues to maintain its current standards, but to improve them. If Chinese oil painting is to continue to develop, there are two issues that must be addressed.
The first issue concerns the language of oil painting. In studying oil painting it is paramount that the vocabulary of Western oil painting be thoroughly digested and understood and that Western oil painting techniques be thoroughly mastered. This is the only way that the qualities and possibilities inherent in oil painting can be expressed. If Chinese oil painting fails to manifest these special qualities and aesthetics, then it will lose its artistic value vis a vis other styles and, in a sense, its raison d'etre.
The second issue is that Chinese oil painting should reflect the cultural identity of the Chinese people, for it is only when a painting captures society's cultural identity that the individual identity has value. This is a key difference that sets Chinese oil painting apart from Western oil painting, and makes it unique.
Only if Chinese oil painting possesses this kind of unique creative spirit will it enrich the international art world and win the respect of art connoisseurs. Of course this will take time, because the process of development and maturation in art is a slow and gradual one. But if this pursuit can be made without haste, and undertaken sincerely in the pursuit of excellent painting, then we can be confident that the future for Chinese oil painting will be bright indeed.