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Xu Beihong in the Memory of Jin Shangyi: He is an Artist and a Patriot with a Long-Standing Commitment of Art Serving Society

Source: Source: www.youth.cn Date: 2015-08-04

According to the report carried by www.youth.cn in Beijing on 27 June (written by Cui Liang), speaking of Mr. Xu Beihong, Jin Shangyi, Honorary President of the China Artists Association and Former President of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts said that “Xu Beihong is not only a great artist but also a great patriot. His character and artistic mastery deserve my life-long admiration”.
On 26 June,the conference in commemoration of the 120th anniversary of the birth of Xu Beihong was held at the Beijing Hall of the Great Hall of the People. The conference was sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles and co-organized by the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, the China Artists Association and the Xu Beihong Museum. Recalling Xu Beihong’s life and artistic accomplishments, Jin Shangyi made comments from various perspectives. As he said, “Xu Beihong had been committed to the philosophy that art should serve society and promote social and human progress as well as artistic transformation and development. His life and practices give testimony to the quality of an artist with conscience. His life provides significant inspiration to each and every Chinese, including his students and all artists. At a time when our economic reform is undergoing great development, how art can better serve social progress is a particularly important subject for our artists to think carefully about”.
Jin Shangyi, 81-year-old and white haired, spoke spontaneously without scripts but clearly, loudly and with measured cadences. Though in his eighties, he is still active on the artistic stage, dedicated to the advancement of calligraphy and art. As recently as 2013, he was a co-publisher of a special artistic collection called “Pride of China-Masters of Art”. Mr. Jin was every emotional when speaking of Mr. Xu Beihong. As he recalled, “When I was studying in Grade One at the Art School, Mr. Xu would always personally gave comments and adjustments when I completed the sketches every day. The sketch class monitor would first rank the works of the students and Mr. Xu would then come and adjust the ranking. Once, as a result of his re-ranking, my work was downgraded while Jin Baosheng’s work was upgraded. I thought carefully about it and came to realize that though precise and meticulous, my drawing was stiff and lacking in a vivid and holistic effect, while Jin Baosheng’s drawing was very vivid as a whole though not very meticulous. I was much struck by that experience, as it showed that Mr. Xu Beihong had very clear criteria in judging the quality of a painting”.
Jin Shangyi also mentioned that Xu Beihong was very enthusiastic,in particular, about artistic education. Mr. Xu Beihong was not in very good health when he was in his fifties. But one day, he called all students to gather at the campus and gave a personal lecture on the history of Chinese and Western art. That impressed me greatly, although I did not have too many contacts with Mr. Xu Beihong. That demonstrated his commitment to and pursuit of artistic truth as an artist. Both his character and artistic mastery deserve my life-long respect”.