BEIJING, Aug. 10, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — In recent years, many artists have taken active part in Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) cultural exchanges and cooperation, strengthened artistic innovation, and made further efforts to promote Chinese art around the world. As part of the BRI international art project organized by the China National Academy of Painting, more than 100 artists from over 30 countries and regions conducted studies and paintings in countries along the BRI for five consecutive years, and completed a batch of high-quality artworks with distinctive features.
For example, the sculpture Dialogue Beyond Time and Space created by well-known Chinese artist Wu Weishan depicts an imaginary scene in which the Italian artist Da Vinci meets Chinese master Qi Baishi. The freehand sculptural techniques not only displayed the wisdom and demeanor of the two maestros, but also symbolized the interaction between different cultures and their common development through mutual learning.
President Xi Jinping stressed that artists are in a better position to enhance cohesion, mutual understanding, and international exchanges through art. The majority of Chinese artists should focus on China to tell good stories about it, and create artworks that can best represent Chinese transformation and spirit from a more in-depth perspective, with a broader mind and more confidence. They should also create more images of Chinese culture that can be shared by the world, display a lively and complete China to write a new chapter in building a human community with a shared future.
The new era has provided a broad platform for art creation. We should take advantage of this prime time, grasp the opportunity in different aspects of life, and create sculptures in both the physical sphere and beyond space and time so that we can inherit culture and pass it on to future generations.
Visual art is a vivid, direct and universal language that is easily spread. It can effectively carry and communicate ideas, feelings and values to evoke people’s emotions, disseminate ideas and touch their hearts.
While absorbing foreign artistic form, modern Chinese sculpture has always kept pace with the times and established a unique style of its own, acting as an important carrier for spreading Chinese civilization and boosting its worldwide influence.
China’s extensive and profound culture integrates artistic creativity and Chinese values, and combines its aesthetic spirit with contemporary aesthetic pursuits. It is an effective way to deepen cultural exchanges and facilitate people-to-people communication.
Sculpture is an essential art form to construct a country’s image and demonstrate its national spirit. Chinese sculpture masterpieces such as Crossing the Yangtze River Triumphantly by Liu Kaiqu, Hard Times by Pan He and Willing Ox by Shen Wenqiang record parts of Chinese history and display the spirit of fine traditional Chinese culture.
Excellent artworks like these usually embody the shared values of humanity. The bridge and boat are key inventions in the history of human civilization, and are common cultural icons. As a means of transportation, various kinds of bridges and boats help connect people around the world, expanding the scope of cultural exchanges and dialogue. Also as cultural images, bridges and boats in art look attractive and vibrant, becoming a key link to strengthen communication, deepen understanding, and promote friendship between China and the world. The historical value, cultural significance and aesthetic value of bridges and boats have also been sources of valuable inspiration for many artists, including Shu Yong.
Chinese artist Shu Yong has been expanding the scope of artistic creation by extracting the essence of fine traditional Chinese culture and developing a new art style, while also making a full play of the artistic advantages of sculptures in order to tell good Chinese stories, have the Chinese voice heard, and facilitate cultural exchanges between China and other countries.
For example, in creating the large-scale sculpture The Golden Bridge on the Silk Road, he made use of the universal cultural image of the bridge and incorporated it with the Belt and Road Initiative. He chose to model it on the Zhaozhou Bridge built 1,400 years ago with the aim of developing traditional Chinese culture in an innovative way. He adopted “amber golden bricks” made of synthetic resin crystal to build up an artistic “bridge” that could connect China and other parts of the world. This sculpture has served as a symbolic landscape for some important Chinese diplomatic activities, including the two Belt and Road Forums for International Cooperation and the first Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations. They have helped demonstrate the charm of Chinese culture, uphold Chinese aesthetics, and spread modern Chinese values.
Building a human community with shared future is a major theme of Chinese art in the new era.
Quite a number of artists have also created artworks from different perspectives, using their unique languages to express their wishes that the people of the whole world should unite, meet challenges and achieve common progress.
Around the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, many of them took the Olympics as the theme of their artistic creation, fervently depicting sportsmen of various countries making breakthroughs in events and making dreams come true, or showing the important role of Olympic sports in boosting mutual learning between different civilizations and promoting unity and cooperation in tackling the difficulties of the world. Shu Yong also created a series of paintings entitled Together toward a Bright Future.
In addition, he also made the sculpture Boat of Fate to interpret the idea and spirit of the Chinese idiom “people in the same boat should help each other.” Shu Yong said, “As artists in the new era, we should adhere to Chinese culture, draw on the essence of Chinese civilization, and put China’s beauty and universal love in our work.“
“Meanwhile, we should be broad-minded with a global perspective and actively learn from all the fruits of civilizations of the world to contribute to mutual learning between China and other countries in Chinese artistic language that can be easily understood by all.“
At present, the art of Chinese sculpture is in its heyday.
Rich traditional Chinese culture coupled with the practices of the new era has provided inexhaustible resources for art creation. To continue to promote the innovative development of Chinese culture, sculpture will surely do its part.
The author Shu Yong is a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and council member of the China Artists Association.