May 4–Jun 12, 1971

Chinese Painting at Mid-Century

Kuo-Sung Liu, Sunsets.

  • Kuo-Sung Liu, Sunsets.

  • Shih-fa Cheng, Album leaf.

  • Chi-Ch’ien Wang, Landscape.

  • Chi-sing Tam, Landscape I.

  • Kuo-Sung Liu, Sunsets.

  • Huang Chi, Pine Grove.

  • Chi-Kuan Chen, Landscape.

  • Fu Pao-shih, Su Dongpo under the Red Cliff.

  • Chinese Painting at Mid-Century, Installation View, 1971.

  • Huang Chih (Pin-hung), The Pond of Elephant Washing, Mt. Omei, Szechuan, 1950

  • Daqain Zhang, In the Style of Hua Yan’s White Gibbon.

  • Daqian Zhang, After Shi Tao’s Transmitting the Book of Changes on the Qinhuai River.

  • Chinese Painting at Mid-Century, Installation View, 1971.

  • Chinese Painting at Mid-Century, Installation View, 1971.

  • Chinese Painting at Mid-Century, Installation View, 1971.

  • Fu Pao-shih, Su Tung-p o Tasting Tea, 1934.

  • Zuoren Wu, Goldfish.

  • From the press release:

    In this exhibition the works of twenty Chinese artists will be presented. Thirteen of the artists are still alive, inlcuding three in mainland China. Six of the artists live in Formosa. The exhibition is limited to the mid-20th century and to ink and brush painting. it is believed that this exhibition will be the first show of contemporary Chinese painting in Chicago. Many of the works have never been exhibited anywhere in the United States.

    Some of the 45 works exhibited are from the private collection of Jeanette Shambaugh Stein (Mrs. Sydney, Jr.), a member of the Renaissance Society. She organized the exhibition and obtained paintings on loan from as far away as Hong Kong and Taipei. Mrs. Stein has been interested in Far Eastern art since her undergraduate days at Radcliffe College. She pursued this interest as a graduate student at the University of Chicago, majoring in Far Eastern art history. Commenting on the exhibit, she said: “The mid-20th century painters assembled here demonstrate many varieties of personal style, and many varieties of response to this turbulent period. It may occur to some that the charming, fresh, original paintings of contemporary life, chosen here for artistic merit, are an unimpeachable response to the party demands for “socialist realism.” The landscape paintings, while linked to the past, are unmistakably original and individual. In every period, including the last 50 years, (in spite of frequent generalizations to the contrary) fresh and original painters have emerged.”

    Artist biographies:

    Chang Yuan (1899 - ) Painter. Born Neikiang, Szechuan. One of ten brothers of whom Chang Shan-tzu is known for paintings of tigers. Sent to Tokyo to study weaving, the family occupation. Returned to become a painter. Studied with Li Jui-ch’ing (Mei-an) from whom he learned Pa Ta Shan-jen’s flower painting style. Also studied with Tseng Hsi (Meng-chiu) from whom he learned Shih T’ao landscape style. Also influenced by T’ang Yin (1470-1523). In 1919 went to montastery to become a monk where the monk I-lin gave him the name T-ch-ien.

    Visited Japan several times. 1938 refused directorship, National Academy, Peking, which the Japanese offered to him. Went to Chengtu until Japanese defeat. During this period spent two years copying Buddhist wall paintings at Tun-huang which influenced his figure drawing style. 1949 moved to Brazil. Now lives in Carmel, California.

    The patriarch of Chinese painters, he is admired for his amazing technical virtuosity (he can paint convincingly in the manner of several great masters), but is also admired for his own personal style which has evolved and changed over the decades. His latest paintings are highly colored and very abstract. His importance among 20th century Chinese painters cannot be overestimated.

    Ch’en Ch’i-K’uan (1921 - ) Archtect and painter. Born Peking. B.S. architecture, National Central University, Chungking. 1949 M.A. Architecture, University of Illinois. 1949-51 with Architects Collaborative and Walter Gropius. 1952-54 instructor M.I.T. 1954 associated with I.M. Pei in design, Tunghai University, Taiwan. 1960, head department architecture Tunghai University. Since 1965 in private practice, Taipei, Taiwan.

    Amateur painter whose work is distinguished by unusual perspective and propensity for delicately rendered small landscapes. His line is seldom calligraphic; rather it is sketchy and westernized.

    Ch’eng Shih-fa Painter. Lives in China. Known as illustrator of many literary works, including Lu Hsun’s The True Story of Ah Q and Wu Ching-tzu’s The Scholars. He paints people of rural China with great originality of composition, line, and color.

    Ch’i Huang (1863-1957) Painter, calligrapher, seal-engraver, poet. Born Hsiangt’an, Hunan. Peasant family. Became apprentice to carpenter where he studied “Painting Manual of the Mustard Seed Garden.” At 27 first studied painting under qualified teachers, learning to paint portraits and household gods. Later learned other techniques including seal-engraving and read classical texts. After 1902 traveled extensively in China, meeting intellectuals over two decades. Built own houses for which he designed furniture, planted trees and raised insects for sketching.

    Age 58 moved to Peking. Paintings, characterized by “simplicity vigor and elegance; sense of life, humanity and satire.” (T.H. Tsien, Biographical Dictionary of Republican China). 1927-37 taught, National Academy of Art, Peking. 1949 Chairman, Union of Chinese Artists. 1953 honored as “Outstanding Artist of Chinese People.”

    His style is better known for birds and flowers, insects, crabs, frogs, than for landscapes. It is said he gave up landscape because it required care not to imitate ancient masters.

    Fong Chung-ray (1934- ) Painter. Born T’ang-ho, Honan. From his literary family he received a background in classical learning and painting. 1947-49 forced by the war to travel in China with his classmates in order to continue studies. 1949 moved to Taiwan. 1958 founded Four Seas Artists Association and in 1961 joined the Fifth Moon Group. At present he is on a John D. Rockerfeller III Fund travel grant.

    After 1963 he turned from painting with oils on canvas to brush and ink on paper. He actually likes to use palm leaves for his brush in order to achieve spontaneous effects. He is basically self-taught, but adheres to the ancient tradition that self-expression is a primary aim for the artist rather than imitation of natural forms.

    Fu Pao-shih (1904-1965) Painter, seal-carver. Born Hsin-yu, Kiangsu. Studied in Japan. 1935-49 Professor of Art, National Central University, Nanking and Chungking. 1949 head Kiangsu Academy of Painting, Nanking. 1950s traveled widely in China. 1957 visited Chzechoslovakia and Rumania. Influential teacher and art historian. Died Nanking. Excells as painter of monumental landscapes as well as painter of intimate views. Uses rich ink tonality applied with vigorous wet brush. Figures superbly drawn in fine lines, often gently satirical.

    **Ho Hwai-shouh (1941 - ) ** Born Kwangtung. Studied at Wuchang and Taiwan Normal University. Instructor at College of Chinese Culture, Taipei. Lives Taiwan. Influenced by Fu Pao-shih and Li Ko-jan. Has exhibited in Taipei in recent years.

    Hsu Pei-hung (1985-1953) Painter. Born I-hsing, Kiangsu. Father a painter, calligrapher, seal-engraver, poet. Worked in fields. 1904 began to study painting with father. 1915 went to Shanghai to paint. 1917 studied painting in Japan. 1919 taught painting, Peking. 1919-25 studied at National Academy, Paris and Berlin. 1925 returned to China; a Shanghai dramatist introduced his work to Chinese artists in that city. 1927 appointed Professor, Art Department, National Central University, Nanking.

    Hsu Pei-hung was a painter whose style is eclectic; he was as skilled with Western oils as with Chinese media. Aside from his qualities as an artist, he played a major role in introducing Western art to Chinese painters. He also taught them to paint from real life. In 1942-45 he helped establish the Chinese Art Resarch Institute which engaged several prominent artists to paint the tribal peoples of China’s far western regions.

    Huang Chih (1864-1955) Painter, collector, art historian. Native of Chin-hua-hsien, Chekiang. Born into a family of painters and scholars, he received a classical education but decided early to devote his life to painting, connoiseurship, traveling, and teaching. After 1949, director of Central Art Academy, Peking. 1953 awarded title “Honored People’s Artist of China.”

    Huang Pin-hung was a prolific painter of landscapes throughout his life. His personal style flowered after age 60 and reached its most admired stage when he was in his 80s.

    Huang Chou (1925-1966) Painter. Born Li Hsien, Hopei. 1949 joined People’s Liberation Army and worked in in Museum of Revolutionary Armament. Denounced by People’s Daily, Sept., 1966, and was first man executed during the Red Guard-led Cultural Revolution.

    Famous for his ink paintings of donkeys and the people of Uigur, Turkestan, and the contemporary scene rendered with artistry.

    **Huang Chun-pi (1899- ) ** Painter and art historian. Born Nan-hai, Kwangtung. 1929-35 professor, Canton Municipal Art Academy. 1937-48 professor, National Central University, Nanking and Chungking. 1949-69 professor and head of art department, Taiwan Normal University. Has traveled extensively in China and abroad. Toured the U.S. in 1957, 1966, and 1969, organizing exhibitions and giving lectures on Chinese art. Has exhibited widely in Asia, Europe and Africa. Has devoted more than forty years to the teaching of art.

    His paintings adhere to a conservative tradition.

    **Huang Pan-je (1901-1968) ** Painter. Born Tung-huan, Kwantung. Studied with his uncle, Huang Shao-mei (Wong Siu-mui); painted landscapes, figures, flowers, and birds, and Buddhist subjects. ln later years traveled in Hong Kong environs and painted sujects of this region.

    Active from 1923 in Canton and Hong Kong cultural affairs. Organized exhibition of Kwantung cultural documents in 1940 and Kwantung painting and calligraphy in 1959, both in Hong Kong. 1964 visited China with nine other artists. 1965 arranged group show of paintings made during that visit. His mature style combines a freer touch while retaining the brush stroke (line) as the most important basic unit, each stroke having its own sturcture and life.

    Hung Hsien (1933- ) Painter. Born Yang-chou, Kiangsu. Lived in Taiwan after 1948. 1951 became student of P’u Ju (brother of Manchu Emperor, poet, calligrapher, painter.) B.A. in art, National Taiwan Normal Univeristy, 1957. Studied western painting, Northwestern University, 1958-60. Teaches Evanston Art Center. Exhibited many times in Chicago region: 1970 with Fifth Moon Group, Taiwan; 1971 one-woman exhibit in Cincinnati Art Center; 1971 Fifth Moon Group exhibition, Honolulu, as well as traveling exhibition of same group since 1969.

    In 1966 she returned to Chinese ink brush paintings, encouraged by a visit of her former classmate, Liu Kuo-sung, who had also returned to Chinese media. She has evolved from abstract landscapes to interest in wave-like motifs and rocks, sometimes combining the two. “Although they are not entirely cut off from nature, the objects in Hung’s paintings are free to find thier own formal as well as expressive meaning.” (Li Chu-Tsing notes)

    **Li K’o-jan (1907- ) ** Painter. Born Hsu-chow, Kiangsu. Studied with Lin Feng-mein in Shanghai and Hangchow. 1937 until end of World War II painted propaganda posters. After 1949 teacher, Central Art Academy, Peking. Influenced in Peking by Ch’i- Pai-shih. He has developed his own style of new realism, which has brought him a large following.

    Lin Feng-mien (1901 or 1906- ) Painter, traditional and western schools. Born Kwangtung. 1922-23 studied painting in Paris. Returned to China to teach at National Art Academy, Peking and Hangchow. Spent World War II in west China; later became director of National Art Academy, Hangchow. For thirty years devoted his energy to a new form of Chinese painting. After 1949 remined in mainland China. Still active in 1963.

    His brush lines are stong, bold, and untraditional. He uses color as a western water colorist, mixing them and painting over them in ink. He can be lyrical or powerful. His art is unmistakably Chinese although some western influences evident.

    Liu Kuo-sung (1932- ) Painter. Born Shantung. Living in Taiwan since 1948. Studied wiith P’u Ju (traditional painter, poet, calligrapher, brother of last Manchu Emperor); and 1954-59 learned western styles. 1956 B.A. National Taiwan Normal University. 1960 Associate Professor of Art, Chung-yuan College, Taiwan. 1966-67 recipient John D. Rockerfeller III Fund travel grant; visited more than 100 museums. His paintings are in collections of major museums of U.S. South America and Europe.

    1959, after a period of self-examination, he “gradually woke up to the importance of a national style and the truth that the tradition is something which no artist of originality can afford to break away from completely…” He slowly abandoned western media for Chinese ink and brush. He was a leader in founding the Fifth Moon Group.

    1959-67 he developed his peronsal abstract landscape style, using a special long fibre paper which allows interesting textural effects. Since 1969 he has been reacting to the United States moon shot seen on television. He had experimented with “collage” before 1969 and continues to occasionally incorporate this technical means.

    Tam Chi-sing (1933- ) Painter. Born Canton. 1947 living in Hong Kong. Studied painting with “Mr. Qua.” 1954 degree from St. Joseph College, Hong Kong. 1956 degree from Northcote Training Colege, Hong Kong. 1956 to present teacher of art, Wah Yan College, Kowloon. 1960 received travel fellowship; studied in Scotland and traveled through many countries visitng art museums. 1962 studied painting with Fung Yuen. 1965 studied with Chinese teachers in England. 1966 studied painting in Hong Kong with Lui Shou-kwan. 1969 studied Chinese paintings in Palace Museum, Taiwan.

    Active in modern art groups. Has been exhibiting since 1968 and was exhibited in Japan at Expo ‘70. He has not been shown before in the U.S. He has a personal brush style, refined and senstive, with which he evokes imaginary landscapes somewhat reminiscent of Wu Pin, the “fantastic” of the late 17th centruy.

    Wang Chi-ch’ien (1907- ) Painter, collector, connoisseur. Born Suchou, Kiangsu. Student of Wu Hu-fan in Shanghai. LIves New York or San Francisco. Student of Ku Ling-shih who taught him systematic study of ancient paintings. 1930s in Shanghai student of Wu Hu-fan, painter, scholar and collector. During this period he was privileged to study at first hand the great private collection of P’ang Yuan-chi, and became advisor to the committee selecting paintings from Palace Museum, exhibited London, 1936. This study pointed to the need for reliable reference on painter’s and collector’s seals, which he undertook with Victoria Contag. 1937-46 traveled in China during the War and added to his private collecction.

    In 1947 he toured the U.S. studying the museum collections. 1949 moved to the U.S. and has since traveled widely abroad. He has lectured on Chinese art history and taught painting at Berkeley, Stanford, and Columbia; has been head of Art Department, Hong Kong University.

    In recent years he has taken his own painting seriously, giving it primary importance in his life. About his own work Wang says, “I prefer the caligraphic and abstract; it is close to the modern form and was common in China for about a thousand years.” (1968)

    **Wu Tso-jen (1908- ) ** Painter. Born Ching-hsien, Anhui. Moved to Suchou when young. Studied architecture at Suchou Technical College but changed to art for health reasons. Studied painting with Hsu Pei-hung. In 1929 went to Paris and Brussels for further study and became student of Alfred Bastien. He won prizes in 1930 and 1934 in oil painting and sculpture; then made a grand tour of Europe before returning to China in 1935.

    During the late 1930s he taught at National Central University, Nanking, under his teacher Hsu Pei-hung and in 1937 taught at National Central University, Chengtu. During 1943-45 he was among the artists sent to the western regions to record tribal peoples, and he studied the early Buddhist wall paintings at Tun-huang. He exhibited before the War in the Second and Third National Art Exhibitions, and after 1949 in Chungking and Shanghai. In 1946 he and Hsu Pei-hung took over the National Art Academy and organized the Artists Association in Peking. In the same year, he acepted invitations to lecture in London, Geneva and Paris. After Hsu Pei-hung’s death he became Director of the National Art Academy in Peking. 1962 still active. His style is usually strongly western.

    Yu Cheng-yao Painter, retired army general. Born Fukien, China. Lives Taiwan. Began to paint after retirement from army about 1960. Is self-taught. Has traveled over most of China and paints remembered regions. Style is characterized by a “primitive” quality.