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Contemporary Chinese Paintings

Contemporary Chinese painting has seen many notable changes in style during that last 125 years. Many scholars agree that these changes have occurred in large part due to the introduction of Western culture and trade. While state sanctioned censorship did stifle the expression of art, artistic growth still continued.

Contemporary Chinese Paintings
The end of the Qing dynasty in 1911 brought much change to China. Beginning with the New Culture Movement, new ideas of Chinese culture and expression became prevalent.

Shortly after the New Culture Movement became prominent, China experienced a time of upheaval and violence. Beginning with a civil war and culminating with the Second Sino-Japanese War, China was very much at odds with itself and with Japan. The Battle of Shanghai would leave China’s artistic Mecca nearly in a humanitarian crisis. But with this upheaval would bring change to China’s views of western culture.

Between the 1950’s and the mid 1980’s, Communism was the major political force in China. The Communist Party of China censored the majority of art in China. If an artist painted a subject that showed the Communist Party in a positive manner, the art was allowed to be publically displayed. But if the painter portrayed and number of messages that the party did not want the public to see, then the painting was destroyed and the artists was forcibly moved to the countryside and forces to become a farmer. In terms of contemporary Chinese paintings, this period has become the impetus of the avante garde and revival periods in Chinese art.

During this time, oil painting was introduced to China. Leading this break from traditional Chinese watercolor and Ink and Wash painting style was Xiao Tao Sheng. Xiao Tao Sheng specialized in portraying Chinese culture through the western style of oil painting. He had many oil paintings exhibited throughout China and some were even chosen to represent China in worldwide exhibitions.

From the mid 1980’s through the late 1990’s, contemporary Chinese painting seemingly redeveloped itself.  It was in this post-Cultural Revolution that Chinese painting was often referred to as Chinese avant-garde art.  While art exhibitions that were considered controversial were shut down, young artists continued to be influenced by western culture through technology and studying abroad. Notable Chinese painters during this time were Fang Lijun, Huang Yan, Ma Liuming, Wang Guangyi, Zhang Dali, Zhang Xiaogang, and Ma Kelu.

The latest art movement in China is often referred to as the Revival period. Due to the changing political climate in China, the Chinese government has softened its views towards contemporary Chinese art. While some expo’s deemed controversial are being closed, contemporary Chinese paintings by and large are allowed room to grow. The 798 Art District in Beijing is a new and trendy artist colony where avant garde artists have the ability to show their artwork in a culturally accepting atmosphere. Many contemporary Chinese paintings are shown here before being shown nationally or internationally. Many consider the current art movement to be a revival in contemporary Chinese paintings. Only the test of time will tell for sure.
 
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