International show celebrates engravers' art

By Deng Zhangyu ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-09-29 08:16:46

International show celebrates engravers' art

An engraving work by Li Hua (1919-96) depicting the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45).[Photo provided to China Daily]

An engraving show in Beijing offers art lovers a rare glimpse into one of the oldest art forms in human history.

It features works of more than 60 established artists from the East and West. Some of the works presented are the only copies in existence and have influenced the contemporary art world in fundamental ways.

After two years of preparation, the opening show of Gauguin Gallery, Engraving Show: A Dialogue between the East and West, displays works by Western masters like Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Marc Chagall and by the founding fathers of engraving in China such as Li Hua (1919-96) and Gu Yuan (1907-94).

The Beijing-based gallery is co-founded by several senior collectors in China and Canada who have already established a large collection of master artists from the West and East.

Engravings have played a very important role in the art dialog between the East and West, says Sheng Wei, deputy director of Art magazine. Woodblocks from Japan influenced many Western art schools, including impressionism. Chinese artists, in turn, then learned of engraving as fine art from the West, adds Shen.

However, engraving originated in China about 2,000 years ago, and it became popular as a kind of print technology rather than art in China for centuries. In the 1920s, Chinese writer Lu Xun reintroduced engraving as a kind of fine art from the West to China. It quickly stimulated a wave in China's art circles.

"Many Western master painters are good at making engravings. So are many accomplished Chinese artists, like Xu Bing and Fang Lijun," says show curator Kang Jianfei.

But engraving became a propaganda tool during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression during the 1930s to 1940s, says Kang. The works of Chinese artists Li Hua and Gu Yuan displayed in the show are of that kind, Kang adds. Both artists presented people's struggles during the war and actual battles via woodcuts.

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