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【评论】Allan's Speech for the Opening of Exhibition by Dr Qijun Wang

2014-03-26 16:45:52 来源:艺术家提供作者:Allan Walker
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  Professor Allan Walker

  Dean of the School of Arts and Media

  University of Salford

  Director, Ladies and Gentlemen,

  I am delighted to be here this evening to say a few words about Qijun and to welcome you to this exhibition which gives such a fascinating and beautiful insight into contemporary landscape painting. It also provides, in its detail, a scholarly introduction to the waterside towns which exist in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River in Qijun's home province of Jiangsu. Water and learning how to live on flood plains are topical subjects at the moment and especially so in the UK where we are experiencing the worst continuous rainfall and flooding for 250 years. The Yangtze river towns, several of which have UNESCO World Heritage Status, have had to cope with other problems including the 3 Gorge Dam Project, itself an attempt to control flooding, and the effects of urbanisation.

  I was in Beijing last month and with Xie Yan, we visited Qijun's studio in the 798 District. Qijun rolled up the heavy steel shutters on the outside of the building and we entered into a large studio with a mezzanine floor. The studio had been turned into a temporary gallery with paintings everywhere; on the walls, stacked on the floor, some packed ready for exhibition and others still only half complete. There were oil paintings on canvas, similar in their realist style to the work in this exhibition and also a large number of Chinese ink paintings. Although appearing different it was clear that the traditional techniques exemplified in the ink paintings were also evident in and informed the oil paintings. These ink paintings were visual narratives and anecdotes and very much revealed Qijun's keen intellect and sense of humour. The versatility in which Qijun is able to work across different media is impressive.

  In the main part of the studio, oil paintings hung on the walls and included compositions of the waterside towns, similar to the ones we are celebrating this evening, portraits of opera singers and various models in Chinese traditional costume and a series of work which depicted contemporary life in Tibet. Qijun guided me around his exhibition sharing his ideas, subject matter and techniques. He also provided fascinating insight into his field-work and the various stages of production from initial research and recording through detailed drawing, composition, technical construction and painting.

  Qijun is, of course, an acknowledged expert on the history and theory of Chinese architecture and in particular traditional vernacular styles. He studied for an MA at Chongqing Institute of Architecture and Engineering and gained his doctorate from Qinghua University. He has toured the country, and like Sir Nickolaus Pevsner in the UK, has searched out rich examples of China's long architectural tradition. He has recorded these buildings, producing several volumes of drawings, and his book, Chinese Architecture is published in several languages including German, Chinese, English, Japanese and French. This and other publications by Qijun provide a detailed record of historical buildings and their construction materials and techniques, many of which are under threat as China grows and experiences urbanisation on a rapid and massive scale.

  It is this knowledge base which informs his work as a historian, teacher and artist and in his painting he is meticulous in his attention to detail. However, the compositions are not a literal transcription of specific buildings and spaces, they are much more of a translation, selected and changed according to the needs of format and composition to create a stronger sense of reality. It is the same with his portraits, he has worked with a remarkable degree of detail, yet also it is clear that to achieve an overall sense of composition, he has shifted his gaze and the level of detail accordingly. These paintings show Qijun as a highly sensitive artist who has the rare ability to capture in a few marks the essence of different materials, for example, of complex and delicate vegetation in contrast to the more substantial construction of the buildings.

  I first met Qijun at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing in 2005, it was a sunny spring morning and he was wearing his signature bright yellow shirt. The shirt matched his smile and I knew immediately that it was going to be a pleasure to work with this charming and generous man. Qijun, like many of his generation, has suffered particular hardship during his life, and it has always been his great skill as an artist that has come to the fore in times of need and provided him with a strong sense of purpose and direction.

  The paintings in this exhibition are the product of a local artist. Qijun came from Nanjing and studied fine art at the Department of Fine Arts at the Nanjing Academy of Arts. He had already developed a deep understanding of the traditional Jiangnan residential buildings, bridges and canals which typify the water towns located along this Southern part of the great Yangtze River.

  Finally, Qijun, Director and Curator, thank you for giving us the opportunity to see these paintings which represents a view of traditional China and its rich architectural history and ways of life. For it to be brought to us by such an accomplished researcher-scholar and immensely talented artist is a treat. Indeed, I do hope you will join me in congratulating Qijun and also thank all who have made this exhibition possible.

Allan Walker

16 February 2014

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