Sun, Jul 25, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Art from the school of the southern ranges

The Lingnan school adopted foreign painting techniques early on and its influences are still felt today

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Kapot Tree by Ch'en Shu-jen.

PHOTO COURTESY OF ACADEMIA SINICA

Over the next five months, the Academia Sinica Lingnan Fine Arts Center (中央研究院嶺南美術館) is hosting a special exhibition of works celebrating the role played in the establishment of modern Chinese painting by successive generations of artists of the Lingnan school (嶺南畫派).

Once used in reference to an area south of five mountain ranges that separate the Yangzi and Pearl river basins, the term Lingnan (嶺南), or "south of the ranges," was adopted by artists living and working the Gungdong area at the beginning of the 20th century.

Established in the early 1900s when anti-foreign fervor was on the rise and the May the Fourth Movement was sowing the earliest seeds of Chinese nationalism, the Lingnan school was initially seen by many as little but another "alien" influenced challenge to traditional Chinese art.

The manner in which artists such as Chu Lien (居廉), who, after his death in 1904 was credited as being the movement's founding father, blended traditional Oriental themes such as mountains, insects and flowers with brush strokes and hues more commonly associated with Western art of the day, shocked Chinese traditionalists.

While their country was shunning foreign influence and looking inwards, artists of the Lingnan movement were taking the opposite path in a bid to develop and revise the long standardized guidelines that governed the way Chinese artists worked.

Nearly half a century after its founding, however, many of the scholars and artists who had originally poured scorn on the Lingnan school had changed their tunes and were hailing it as one of the most influential and significant styles of Chinese art.

The Lingnan movement is now held in such high regard that contemporary Lingnan artists are still creating works adhering to Chu Lien's guidelines and styles today and are held in equally high regard by their modern day peers.

Works by second generation Lingnan artists like Gao Chian-fu (高劍父), who created masterworks by drawing influence from Japanese fluid brush strokes and captivating colors, as well as third generation Lingnan artists such as Chao Shao-ang (趙少昂), whose vibrant works combine traditional and Western techniques, are considered some of the finest and are some of the most sought after in the Chinese art world.

Featuring a selection of 50 works dating from the early 1900s to the mid-90s, the exhibition includes works by movement founder Chu, second generation Lingnan artist Gao Chien-fu, third generation Lingnan artists Kao Chi-feng (高奇峰) and Chen Shu-jen (陳樹人), as well works by Au Ho-nien (歐豪年), who is one the leading contemporary artist of the Lingnan school.

It is not overly extensive, but the exhibition is well organized and gives visitors a good glimpse of the vivacious and multihued styles of celebrated Lingnan artists.

Exhibition notes:

What: Works from the Lingnan school (嶺南畫派)

Where: Academia Sinica Lingnan Fine Arts Center (中央研究院嶺南美術館).128, Xueyuan Rd, Sec 2, Nankang District, Taipei (台北市南港區研究學院路2128).

When: Now through Dec. 31.

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