周一新
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Cultural Forms of Paintings—on New Creation of Figure PaintingFrom

Zhou Yixin’s experience we can easily see that he has received regular professional training and strict academic education. Generally we call artists like Zhou as artists of academy. On the whole, system of academic education laid more emphasis on training of modeling and sketching, study of concepts and discussion which is true to teaching of figure painting. Systematic education of academy and his own unremitting efforts made him to find a better solution to the relation between description and modeling which laid foundation for his further exploration.

 

The problem between paintings and modeling was a major topic for studying Chinese figure painting. How to coordinate the relation between them is not a problem only related to painting skills, on one hand, it involves cultivation of modeling capacity and understanding of related skills, on the other hand, it is recognition of description and rediscovery of expressing capacity. Academic education helped students to accomplish greater achievement on their understanding and modeling capacity, however, there is a shortage in understanding of tradition and paintings. It is a common phenomenon and failure in present academic education as a great many people drew sketch with Chinese brush which made traditional Chinese paintings lost their lasting appeal in face of such an object which needed to be expressed. A lot of educational institutions try to correct such a phenomenon which needs endless efforts just as Rome was not built in one day, as the shortage of cultural spirit and awareness. It is the endless comprehension and training instead of a training process to acquire skills. It is fortunate that Zhou Yixin’ infatuation with traditional Chinese culture which made up the shortage of academic education timely. In his further study of modeling and paintings, he found the bonding point between the two and under calling of traditional Chinese cultural spirit, he displayed personalized historical and cultural spirit making use of modeling and description in his persevering efforts which is a starting point for Zhou’ art exploration. Zhou is a typical academic artist who has balanced his learning, artistic creation and improvement of self-cultivation in traditional culture and made endless efforts in the study of calligraphy, poems, poetry writing and historical figures. He formed his uniqueness in his works, on the basis of modeling capacity which academic school laid emphasis on and he focused on artistic conception of paintings and general appearance of the picture, combined brushwork and modeling, traditional description and historical culture. In his paintings, Zhou Yixin reached a historical height, extended space of poetic flavor and expanded cultural horizon of aesthetics. Zhou Yixin has achieved great achievement in combination of rediscovery of traditional culture and painting modeling, which made him a typical artist with great attainments in this aspect.

 

The second step of Zhou Yixin’ exploration is that he integrated specific language of description modeling with the image which described. In the process, he made efforts to discover targets for his paintings which agree with his temperament in traditional culture and historical process. Recreation and rediscovery of religious and personalized spirit are major theme of his creation. He made great efforts to deepen the theme. It seems that nobody can bring forth any new ideas in the theme. His works display exotic feelings and link up modern aesthetics through appropriate integration of his eagerness for spirit of traditional culture and personal feelings, management of poetic flavor in his paintings. His paintings are attractive in forms and striking out in its spirit and academic learning. It seems that his works are painted following his inclinations, as matter as fact, they are based on accurate understanding of traditional culture and a summary of self-cultivation in culture and understanding of paintings. The process for Zhou Yixin is full of hesitation and repeated exploration, for others full of relaxation. The exploration was suffering, but Zhou Yixin can’t restrain from continuing for his love for and over-absorption of mind in traditional culture. The theme and ways of expression he chose are more likely to suffer from criticism and unfair comments in the face of new concepts, popular themes and techniques of painting. Zhou Yixin’ persistence is dependent on his unyielding character. He developed his painting kingdom through his persistence which is the self-knowledge of cultural spirit and exploration of life. Zhou Yixin’ initial success in his exploration is common orientation of aesthetics formed in the rediscovery of Chinese traditional culture more than his personal efforts in creation.

 

As the deepening of exploration, Zhou Yixin pursues his creation from two aspects: one is the grasp of commonness of cultural spirit which lays emphasis on recreation and rediscovery of human nature under context. His efforts in painting made him avoid errors which are easiest to be conceptualized and expounded. Recreation and rediscovery of human nature made images in his works more vivid and appealing so that viewers can integrate their aesthetic creation with their appreciation of the works which draw near the distance between creation and real life, and produce more cultural content of aesthetics. From this aspect, it is revelation with paragon meaning Zhou Yixin brought to us. Zhou Yixin’ exploration revealed us another possibility: in the process of cultural integration how to reflect culture after patterns of painting creation went through conflicts between tradition and modernism. Zhou Yixin’ paintings made us notice how to profoundly learn through possibilities and significance of cultural morphology of paintings under the context of modern paintings. Cultural morphology of paintings is not superficial form taking paintings as the only way of expression but reproduction of deep meaning. Such inclination reflected in Zhou Yixin’ paintings are his spiritual pursuit against the background of modern culture. Zhou Yixin whose original family home is Yongkang city, Zhejiang province was born in 1970. He graduated from Art Department of Shanxi Normal University, July 1993; from September, 1993 until now, he has worked as a teacher in Fine Arts Department of Ningxia University; from 2000 to 2001 he studied traditional Chinese painting department of Chinese National Art Galley as a student with equivalent education to a postgraduate. His works are invited to take part in national art exhibition, among which The Water Margin Memorial won a sliver medal in the 10th national art exhibition. As an academic artist, he thinks that painting system created by Xu Beihong and Jiang Zhao mainly solved the problem of modeling of traditional Chinese painting, but there is still a shortage of painting skills. Zhou Yixin agreed with Xu Beihong’s view of “learning from the west” which means that we should learn from quintessence of western painting system but our painting techniques should be typical Chinese one with eastern grace. He made great efforts in sketch and literary sketch so that his paintings giving the first impression to friends and other views that he is an artist with modeling capacity, can paint various figures and manage grand scene and express his artistic viewpoints through techniques adopted by academic artists. He received recognition from society through his work Water Margin. Beautiful women and religious culture as themes of paintings has been vigorously developed in pre-Qin (Chinese history up to the foundation of Qin imperial dynasty in 221BC). Chinese beautiful women and Tao-shi theme has been the theme of creation and expression in murals, engravings, Spring Festival pictures for artists in Western Han, Tang and Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties which were popular among the masses. Beautiful women, related religious and historical figures in Zhou Yixin’s paintings was integrated with life which raised height of the theme in historical culture to a new level and vested elegant demeanor in it.

 

Zhou Yixin’ experience made him to explore art from his comprehension and academic aspects so that he was seldom influenced by bad academic environment. An artist can have a longer journey on the road of exploration only by keep relative purity in mind. We can totally believe that Zhou Yixin is such an artist who will purify his mind with more sacrifices. With thoughts focusing capacity brought by purification, and then constantly strengthened his capacity, finally accessed to substantial language of art. In the process of continuously improvement of his skills, Zhou Yixin perfected his works.

 

Through Zhou Yixin’s exploration we can see recognition of Chinese traditional culture by academic artists in the process of learning and appreciation of Chinese tradition. Such recognition is not a passive process of making up missed lessons but a positive cultural awareness. Cultural awareness is a process of high approval and integration of cultural value which symbolizes deepening of understanding of Chinese culture. When got exited to the slogan: “be close to cultural vein”, fake tradition and spirit lost cultural backing faced by us. Closeness of fake tradition and spirit with true ones is out of demand for reality but not the need from our inner heart on life. When facing with Zhou Yixin’ cultural expressing, we are more confident in facing factors enriching development of traditional Chinese painting, publicizing cultural morphology with the strength of traditional Chinese cultural spirit, making traditional Chinese painting reflects the just and honor of Chinese culture more completely in modern times and promoting development of traditional Chinese painting with confidence in creation. Zhou Yixin made great progress in his creation and exploration which bring us more hopes.