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Zhu's works show lusty embrace of life

2014-04-20 10:59:55

(China Daily) By Lin Qi


Zhu Xinjian is known for explicit depictions of sexuality and nudity through his brushwork.[CHINA DAILY]

Most works on show were created by Zhu's left hand. His right hand became paralyzed when he suffered from a severe illness in 2007. He had wanted to name the exhibition My Left Hand in an attempt to prove the artistic capability of his left hand.

"You can hardly find another one like Zhu, who declared in public that he lived and painted for pure pleasure, in the art circle of today," says art critic Jia Fangzhou.

"Criticism of his art, from whatever perspective and standpoint, can never overshadow the artistic value of his works, because so far no one has ever depicted beauties with the rich emotions he does."

People believe Zhu's continuous challenge of intellectual doctrines reflects the essence of literati painting: the pursuit of free expression and independence.

Literati painting is viewed as a self-conscious creation in a long term and large scale in Chinese art history. It gradually rose to dominance after the Song Dynasty (960-1279). It was motivated by scholar-bureaucrats who were discontent to be ranked with court painters, who committed to precise imitations with great attention to detail.

In the social vicissitudes of the early 20th century, literati painting was denounced as self-indulgent. It gradually lost its prominence, while Western Realism was introduced to activate people's patriotism and help modernize Chinese art. It was not until the mid-1980s that the "New Literati Painting" emerged as a result of ink painters' dissatisfaction with the realistic approach. These painters were eager to revive the charisma and nuanced expressions of ink brushwork.

"Opponents saw a lack of the literary refinement of ancient scholar-bureaucrats in the 'New Literati Painting'," says Li Xianting, the exhibition's academic director. "But I think they translated the scholarly style into a modern, worldly context, through the expressions of boredom, laziness, depression, nostalgia and shamelessness of today's people."

Zhu's friend Chen Danqing says: "Only the word 'straightforward' can sum up Zhu's paintings. His life and his characters make us feel how fake we've always been."

Only the word 'straightforward' can sum up Zhu's paintings. His life and his characters make us feel how fake we've always been."


10 am-6 pm, until April 22. Today Art Museum, 32 Baiziwan Lu (Road), Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-5876-0600 Ext 100.

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