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t in china is a reflection of the western cultural tendencies that depict the political and social developments in a post-industrial revolution world (Andrews & Shen 30). Contemporary Chinese art reflect a westernized artistic style that has Chinese roots. Xu Beihong falls among the first Chinese artist who articulated on the need for Chinese artistic expressions to reflect modern china. Biehong believed in the connection of art and life and the need for artist to focus on the truth through realism than just focusing on the aesthetic value of a painting. From his realistic perspective, Biehong believed that painters could engage further with their environment surrounding and the viewer get to understand better bout life’s true meaning. An analysis of Beihong’s painting ‘Tian Heng and his 500 retainers’ can provide a deeper understanding of modern art in China.
Xu Beihong gets regarded as the pioneer of modern art in China. His artistic works bear a significant western influence. He was born in Yixing, Jiangsu in 1895. He was primarily revered for his art paintings of horses and birds. Xu’s career began at a young age under the tutorship of his father who was an artist. He studied oil painting and drawing in Paris under a scholarship from the Chinese government. His travel to Western Europe enabled him to understand and incorporate western art techniques (Ward). His artistic style encompasses both of the east and west. His exposure to western painting traditions provided background for his advocacy for a realist approach in Chinese art and thus his vital role in the transformation of modern Chinese art. He came up with the notion of applying western scientific methods and integrating a western approach such as shading and perspective in his works (Biehong & Xu 109). His realistic approach to art enabled his paintings to evoke human feelings and universal themes. He believed that his artistic expressions of birds and horses symbolized the will of the
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Confucian ideals of scholarship and moral living infused the profession so that painting was regarded as something intellectual, and deeply mystical, and it was treasured, especially in the court, for the unique contribution that the artist made to each piece: “The term biji or moji, the “trace of brush” or “trace of ink”, expresses the concept that both calligraphy and painting represent the physical presence of the maker.” (Fong, 2003, no page number) Painting was one of the highest achievements of an ancient culture, and as such it represented China’s history and unique national qualities.
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