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Life in art

2014-07-02 15:29:13

(Global Times)


Realistic touch

Among those exhibited, the oil painting Liu Hulan's Heroic Death (1957) has attracted the most attention. The work reproduces the execution of Party member Liu Hulan in 1947 during the war between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party.

A heroine that has been praised millions of times, Liu chose to die rather than surrender to the enemy. To portray her unflinching spirit, Feng depicts a scene full of conflict; on one side stands the Kuomintang officers and on the other side Liu's villagers.

In order to properly portray this moment in history, Feng went to Liu's hometown in Shanxi Province many times for research and later drew nearly 100 drafts to finish the painting. The painting, which involves a complicated story and many characters, took him three years to finish.

Currently part of NAMOC's collection, the painting is also an important work in the history of Chinese art because it was created while Feng was studying under Maksimov at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, where he himself was also teaching, in 1955. Maksimov's class at the time consisted of some of the best oil painters of the time, many of whom later became the backbone of oil painting in China.

Typical of his works of that period, Feng incorporated Russian realistic painting styles into his paintings. The size of Liu Hulan's Heroic Death (230cmx426cm) was also considered a major achievement at the time because it proved that Chinese painters had matured enough to take on large oil paintings.

"Feng's persistent exploration and research seen in the development of his work can provide important enlightenment for realist art creation today," Fan Di'an, curator of NAMOC, noted at the opening ceremony.

During his 80-year painting career, Feng created countless realist works that reflected his patriotism and concern for the country. He continued to paint into old age, traveling to sketch famous mountains.

The last section of the exhibition consists of a series of oil paintings that depict the natural scenery of Luzhi in Jiangsu Province that Feng painted in 2009. One of the pieces was left unfinished, demonstrating how the artist continued to paint until the very last minute of his life.

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