Global Art Exchange and Modernism in Socialist China (1949-1979)

When 30 Oct 2020 - 31 Oct 2020
Where David See-Chai Lam Centre for International Communication Simon Fraser University
515 West Hastings Street, Harbour Centre
Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 5K3

This is an online event.

The plight of art and culture in socialist China (1949-1979) has long been perceived as bleak, monolithic and isolated, characterized by a closed aesthetic and repressive political system that demanded only “socialist realism.” Yet recent archival discoveries and scholarship have unearthed some fascinating interactions in contemporary art history that challenge and dismantle the simplistic, Cold War-influenced narratives of East-West dichotomy and capitalist modernism v. socialist realism.

This workshop is the most recent event in the series “Art and Modernism in Socialist China,” an international cooperative research and publication project launched in 2017 at Taikang Space, Beijing. It focuses on global exchanges among left-wing artists and their impacts on Chinese art during the most rigid period of Socialist China. From artistic exchanges with Latin America to the Romanian school in Chinese art education; from discreet international exhibitions in China to underground artist groups during the Cultural Revolution; together the panelists present a complex contemporary Chinese art history, in which artists thirsted after alternative aesthetic inspiration, and international cultural dialogues continued amidst revolutionary turmoil, albeit in discreet and distorted guises. They reveal a surprising variety of intellectual origins and foreign influences on Chinese socialist modernism, and deepen our understanding of the crucial impact of human exchanges on art and agency in the socialist period.

Session ONEChair: Julia F. AndrewsOpening remark: Shengtian Zheng

- Chile, China, Cuba: A Mural and Beyond: Shengtian Zheng
- Beyond Castiglione: Post-WWII Sino-Italian Artistic Exchange: Yang Wang
- A Cancelled Graduation Exhibition: A Study on the Formation and Influence of the Romanian School in Chinese Art Education: Nan Ma
- Creating A New Era of 20th Century”: Huang Binhong (1865-1955) and Modern Art during the Cold War: Zaixin Hong
- Boundary Crossing – Ye Qianyu and Dai Ailian: Claire Roberts
- “Pictorial Diary” in the South: Tan Huamu’s Painting in the New China Period: Tao Cai
- Discussion

Session TWOChair: Julia Orell- Never forget Mao: the Monumental as Radical Universal?: Barbara Mittler
- Realism or Modernism? Exhibitions of Sesshū in Japan and China in 1956: Effie Yin
- A Challenge to Socialist Realism: Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Others in an Unknown 1960 Exhibition in China: Yuning Teng
- Socialist Graphic Novels: Soviet Literature for Chinese Readers: Nicolai Volland
- Modernist Undercurrents in Socialist Art Education: Juliane Noth
- Shades of Grey: Impressionism in China, 1956-1979: Shuyu Kong
- Discussion

Concluding remark: Shuyu Kong

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Image courtesy of the event organizer.