• Date
      2016.03.19 - 2016.05.29
    • Artist
      Members of Grades '98 and '99 from the Oil Painting Department, Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts
    • Curator
      Yue Yang
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  • Images

Art to Me

------ Retrospective Exhibition of Grades ’98 and ’99 from the Oil Painting Department, Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts

“Art to Me” is a collective review of the graduates from the Department of Oil Painting, Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts who entered the academy in 1998 and 1999. Almost fifteen years after their graduation, “Art to Me” aims to show the influence of their art education on their lives after art school against the backdrop of today's rapid development in China; primarily, the relationship between their art and their career, as well as their personal trajectory.
The exhibition brings together two years of student intake. In so doing, it tries to give a platform for their work, their personal interviews and self-narratives, which reflect the individual experiences since graduating. It looks at their work today in the context of their lives, and demonstrating the value of contemporary art education in China. Although we can’t present a complete picture, through the exhibition, we glimpse the meaning of art in the life of each participant and from their individual perspectives.
From 1998 to 1999, Chinese universities expanded the enrollment numbers of students. Those who were accepted had a particular experience of art education. Since graduating, the effects of the expanding enrollment combined with the family pressure of being single children is reflected in their developmental experience. They all live under different conditions. The professional art education they received at this time was a fermentation, and it gave them a form to follow. But what changes have taken place in the relationship between art and their personal reality? What role does art play in their personal history? Faced with multiple pressures from the society and family, what is art to them now; what might it be in ten years’ time? A means of making a living, or unfinished business? Was it a youthful fancy or is it still love? Is it a means of expression or a game with difficult rules? Is it sanctuary or luxury they can no longer afford?
There were 105 students in the two years of intake, 1998 and 1999. Today, they are art teachers, professional artists, designers, business management, reporters, editors, directors and assorted others. The exhibition comprises 200 works by 59 of the students. There was no screening process for the selection. Each student decided whether to participate or not, and what work would represent them. Most of the exhibitors have been working with art of some forms since their graduation. This dedication is touching. The majority of participants see the exhibition as an opportunity, but one that might have a curatorial angle. An important part of the project here is that each participant received an invitation to answer a few questions, to look back at the time since graduation and review the impact of art on their lives. They could also choose to make a work for the exhibition that somehow reflected the experiences of these years. Most show their usual work, revealing that art was an important choice in their life.
Two students, Zhang Meng and Zhang Yi, from the class of 1999, has passed away. We show their paintings to commemorate them. Just ahead of the exhibition, we were saddened to learn that Jin Xunjin had passed away... The remaining 46 gave a variety of reasons for not participating. Nonetheless, “Art to me” says much about the common experiences of this group of people, beyond art cultivated by professional artists to reflect a compelling collection of lives, each affected by art.


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