Mr. Dus painting aesthetics and his skill system belong to the School of the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s. The doctrine or limitation of the oil painting with the Soviet style lies in the so-called socialist realism, but its strength and its charm lie in the strong reflection from the impressionism. When sketching from nature, it advocates to grasp substances decisively and to catch light and shadow, especially to catch the cold-warm change of color. It also lays emphasis on the unexpected but well-commanded flickering effect that is gained before the colors are mixed evenly. When the later generations review this kind of paintings, they easily neglect that this sketch was on the advanced guard in China in the 1950s. In large number of his works, his colors and brushstrokes are active, sharp, fierce and thick. His brushwork, including knifework, runs closely after the light on and shadows of the substances. The uplink, pile and abstraction of each form or each color are done unthinking, which is like a forcible wind sweeping over the grass, delightful, enthusiastic, full of life. An inborn observer and expresser, he did not know in those years how to paint the so-called revolutionary works so that he had impossibly gained some achievement in the official space. Being in the southwestern part, the depths of the country, he had to endure more frustration and more cold reception that the outsiders were hard to imagine. Only because of this, painting became the last miraculous light for him to struggle for life. In his paintings, I particularly enjoy his quiver, jumpy, fragile but tenacious. Like many artists who without luck are not famous in their life, he has not left in his works any impression of his misfortune, even not left any hint of it. In the depths of the country, as I know, the similar characters and similar painting styles emerge and perish of themselves. What I have said is also a deep sigh for the long unfairness in the art world.
In the March of 1997, the Retrospective Exhibition of Du Yongqiaos Art was opened in Sichuan Fine Arts Institute (Chongqing). Mr. Du is an old painter who has been engaged in art for nearly half a century. This exhibition, as his first individual one, showed over 130 pieces of his oil and watercolor works from 1950s to 1990s. In the May of the same year, the exhibition was held in Sichuan Art Museum (Chengdu) by an invitation from Sichuan Artists Association.
l It is our artists mission to use art language to express the beauty of common things and our feeling for the beauty of such things, and to help people taste the beauty.
19 April 2009
During the exhibition both in Chongqing and Chengdu, symposia were held one after another. Here are the abstracts of sound recording.
l To live your life sincerely, to do your artwork sincerely and to treat your audience sincerely.
Mei Zhongzhi(梅忠智), a traditional Chinese painter and a vice professor of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute: I think the oil painting of Mr. Du is firstly tasteful and secondly inspirited. I had for six or seven years stayed in Japan, a small country with 54 art museums. Seeing his oil painting today makes me recall the mass housed paintings in the museums, especially the exhibition of the Northern European oil paintings from the middle ages to the modern time I saw in Japan in
l Only the trueness can move people and here it stands for the trueness of your feeling and of your art. My point of departure is to let the trueness of your life become the one of your art.
l Only if you can have sincerity and fraternity instead of utilitarianism or material gain, can everything in the boundless universe light your inspiration and can your art be long.
Lin Mu(林木), a historian of fine arts and a vice professor of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute: The exhibition is significant to prove that the art of painting indeed needs to resume the purity of the visual language. Mr. Dus painting is not philosophic at all, yet it is very charming. His color is exclaimed in great surprise, enough to shake your soul! If you see his painting with magnifying glass, every piece is changeful in fine colors. How rare the painters are who can use colors so minute in the whole country, let alone in the Southwest of China! How few painters there are whose brush touches are so subtle but forceful and changeful in the modern world of oil painting! Just appropriately does he express the colors of the western oil painting and the soul of the Chinese traditional one. Thus incisively and vividly does he express a sort of art from the West with the feeling of a Chinese and with a strong characteristic of China. This gives a good lesson to the people who stiffly follow the suite of the West. Undoubtedly Mr. Du is the most excellent oil painter all over the country, but our institute oppresses him again and again, having never held an exhibition for any talented artist like him. Why do we not create more chances to extend such a fine art?
l Its bad to care too much about others opinion of your work and its worse to cater to their likeness because that will make you lose yourself so that you can not develop your talent.
He Jizhu(何继笃), a traditional Chinese painter, president of Chengdu Academy of Painting: The art of Mr. Du and his teaching indeed influence many artists of generations, which is a fact incontrovertible in our art world. His art accomplishment gets a higher level and does not decline even if he is over 60 years old. This is very special among painters. The exhibition causes such a stirin the 1990s such a stir is less and lessthat it certainly proves his art really stands up for the history checkout. I can say his art is immortal, and I believe time will prove this.
l It is not a question whether the form of art expression is out of date. No matter what school it is or what kind of language it uses, it is the eternal heritage of all mankind as long as it has achieved a high level. But as for an artist, it deserves more praise for him to have created or developed the form of art expression.
Hu Renqiao(胡仁樵), an oil painter: As everyone knows Mr. Du suffers a lot. He is a rare talented painter being not supported but oppressed. It injures not only Mr. Du himself, but also the Chinese culture and art. In China, a big country with a large population, there are few talented painters like him.
l No matter how the art of painting develops, the realistic painting is impossibly broken up because it has thick soil and prolific expressive powers.
I feel his artbeing a unique style of his ownis completely perfect with his color and his brushwork extremely outstanding. And I also feel his unique style has got the highest degree of professional proficiency. Today when the modernisms prevail everywhere, his art can still actually get highly appraised, which surely explains that any art can stand up in front of history only if it can be carried thoroughly and perfectly.
A photographic reproduction of the material reality is not the realism. Now such so-called realistic painting, vulgar, is popular in the world. It is hypocritical for nothing, without any flesh or blood or animation. It is even not equal to a photograph as a source material, completely out of the art of painting. And what is more absurd is that such a photographic reproduction is often boasted about as a masterpiece, which causes young students, public masses and markets to misunderstand the realistic painting.
Jian Chongmin(简崇民), an oil painter: Mr. Du has been listed as an undesirable for years. When I recall it, I always feel he is absolutely a victim. How can he insist on till today if he does not love painting with his whole heart? It is because of him that the painters of five or six generations from Sichuan Fine Arts Institute come together. All of them are sincerely convinced for his works no matter which approach they present, which school they belong to and how famous they are.
Equally to other true paintings, the realistic painting also needs the painters specific tendency of expression, individual character and appropriate painting language. In the painting, the painter through scene or personal form and with his own individualized language gives voice to the pursuit of his aesthetics and life. So, the biggest problem the realism in face of is still the one to study and develop its various painting languages. In other words, it is not whether it likesthis of course is groundworkbut it is how to paint and to paint a new appearance.
In my memory, Mr. Du gave me a perfect impression. How few are such teachers like him! He in those years taught us hand in hand, unselfishly and with sincerity. I realized later that how little and how rare such sincerity is in the world! Now that we all recognize Mr. Du is very excellent both in his art and in his personality, let us do not just look him becoming the second Chen Zizhuang, an excellent painter almost not known in his life but only after his death. The painters simple, honest and kind like Mr. Du can not repeat the miserable fate of Chen Zizhuang, only if they could get supported from the sides.
l The difference between realism and naturalism rests with whether to have discovered and revealed the essence of object.
Mr. Du has never sent any of his paintings to Beijing to win an award, nor has he sold his works with a million dollar, but he has got a higher reputation in the mind of the painters in the country. The reason is that his painting is a purified art. He does not care about what the governments like, what the merchants like and what the markets like. What he cares about is to really paint with his conscience and his faith. This is the secret he can get to a higher level in art.
l A vision in a painting work is an outcome combined with the painters mind and the image of objects. It reflects from a certain side the painters outlook of life.
Qian Laizhong(钱来忠), a traditional Chinese painter and a secretary of Sichuan Association of Literature and Art: We, the people of Sichuan, are proud of such excellent artists like Du Yongqiao and Chen Zizhuang. Why does Chen come to be famous at last? There are a lot of his students, and a lot of his admirers. It is they that explain and summarize his art so much that Chen is publicized. I, therefore, think if a painter wants his art to pass down, he must has a group of passers without whom the artists contribution is hard to be known in society and his achievement is likely to be buried. Mr. Du, a very excellent artist, is more and more influential, but it seems that his unique art lacks passers. For this reason, I advise Mr. Du to set up a workshop in order to pass his art to new comers.
l An artistic work is neither decided by its size nor by its theme, it is decided by the harmonious combination of the three: its sensibility, its atmosphere and its language form.
Lu Shuzhong(吕树中), a printer and a professor of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute: A so thorough and thorough exhibition is not seen for a long time! The art accomplishment of Mr. Du has been obvious to all, but in his life he has been holding only this one exhibition on which his works are admired greatly once striking a pose. Now, all the ones in the art circle seem to be busy publishing their albums or holding their exhibitions but few of them get their expectative results. I feel quite a lot on his exhibition.
l Its not so easy to paint a landscape sketch, for it involves an important relationship between your creative power and the source of your heart, between the subjectivity and objectivity.
His color accomplishment is admitted by everyone, and his unique painting stroke is worth of a careful study. The nationalization of oil painting has advocated for years and years, but it is hard to see a successful example. Dus oil painting is a Chinese one. The usage of his brush is changeful with a special flavor of the Chinese traditional freehand brushwork while the manner of his oil painting is pure and nature. This is a real creation from which we can see how profound his accomplishment is in both the Chinese traditional painting and the western oil painting. It is commendable for him to paint so naturally and so perfectly.
l The colour a painter tries to catch is neither the colourful one nor the one on his palette, but the subtle one that vanishes in the twinkling of his eye.
Zhang Jie(张杰), an oil painter and a vice professor of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute: In China today, if a painter wants to hold an exhibition he must experience some troubles: such as to hold talks and pay the rent. But Mr. Du did not this time. Sichuan Fine Arts Institute and Sichuan Artists Association invited him one after another on their own initiatives, and they made an exception to discharge his rent. It is obvious that Mr. Du enjoys a higher reputation. When his exhibition was opened in the Institute, the occasion looked most magnificent. Everywhere in the exhibition hall were crowded the dense people. Until the symposium was held, the hall was still jammed hard to be passable. I have watched many exhibitions in home and abroad, but never have I seen such a sight!
l Good colours reflect a painters aesthetics and his self-cultivation. And a good painting must be of colours in order, simple but not boring, bright but not noisy, deep but not stiff. The two are of unity of opposites.
Now it is a time when art is diversified and there frequently are sorts of art activities. Among so many exhibitions, why is Mr. Dus so noticeable? Why do those who admire modernisms worship Mr. Du at the same time? I feel deeply that whenever an artist lives, he can certainly be accepted as long as he can do his work perfectly. Mr. Du has no genius for words, for social contact or for publicity, but he has moved generations depending just on the power of his works.
l The brightness of colour is not the power of it. Its power comes out from the particular comparison and contrast between coolness and warmness, and between brightness and dullness. Some dull colours appear very bright at a distant sight, because we can see simultaneously the surrounding colours with our vision enlarged. Thats why some painting works look gray in a near, whereas they look bright in a distance.
Luo Li(罗立), an oil painter and the head of the Education Department of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute: In these years I have for many times advised Mr. Du to hold an exhibition, but I am failed because he is not willing. This time his exhibition is held at last completely depending on some friends who have persuaded him time and time again. His exhibition produced a big influence once it was opened. Every day, there are huge crowds of people, and there even are some who call to ask for putting off the exhibition. Seeing the high-level works, the spectators begin to ask: Why is there never such a high-quality exhibition? Why has never Mr. Du held his exhibition until his retirement? I feel the answers lie in the so-called Phenomenon of Du Yongqiao.
l A small painting draft: it should not be a short account, but an outline of a long article which role is to provide some colours and their relations needed in a bigger painting.
He has for years paid his attention only to one thing: to paint. He does never care about fame or gain, nor is he good at everyday affairs or interpersonal relations. Mr. Du has influenced generations in art and teaching. His painting is mysterious but marvelous, worthy of a further study and of being carried forward. I can say Mr. Du is one of the best painters in our country. Such a painter may come into being for one hundred years. This saying is not too much because I know many people do think so. But I feel a bit of pity that there are only a few knowing his original works.
l Among almost all painters I have seen, whether the older generation or younger generation they are in, and whether realistic or non-realistic they are, there indeed are quite few of the ones who are cultivated in colour. Their colours are usually felt thin, weak, inexact, and toneless, which is just like a bad offset photolithography that lacks a dot pattern.
Zhou Chunyia(周春芽), an oil painter: I had already heard of Mr. Dus name before I learnt to paint. Later when I saw his original works, I was shocked in my mind, feeling convinced sincerely. And later on, the more I knew painting, the greater I felt his painting is. In my mind, Mr. Du undoubtedly is a real pure artist! His painting style has influenced many people of generations. Wherever you go, you can feel his deep influence: people admire him when his name is mentioned. I feel his influence will be greater and greater.
The sense of colours is doubtlessly accumulated by training, but it is got more by a painters innate endowment, so that it is difficult to describe it in any language, and the difficulty to teach students the colour painting lies in the unexplanation of the subtle colours.
Li Jinyuan(李金远), a traditional Chinese painter and a professor of the Fine Arts College of Sichuan Normal University: I had not seen Mr. Du before, but I had felt his arts power universally existing in the art world, not only in the oil painting circle or among the watercolor painters. In fact, a group of well-known traditional Chinese painters admit they benefit from his art although they are not taught directly by Mr. Du. These traditional Chinese painters began to paint from the western oil painting, but their color usage and their art language present the style of Mr. Du even till today. Possibly it is hard for those who take oil painting to imagine how the group and I respect him. Our appreciation comes out fully from our deepest mind. Whether ones art is good or bad, there will naturally be fair judgment upon. The fact is not that the hotter its publicity is the more respectful it is; only so think the puzzled laymen.
l Brush touches, as a means of formation, reflect not only a painters personality, but also his long drilled skills. Furthermore, such strokes are often filled with the bursting feelings and life experiences of a painter, so they are the result of his high spirit.
Zhang Ziqi(张自启), a traditional Chinese painter and a professor of the Fine Arts College of Sichuan University: The painting of Mr. Du is excellent whether from his colors or from the expression of his feeling. My son is a young painter so I have chances to contact with the young among whom many are engaged in avant-garde arts. None of them are not convinced with Dus art. I feel it is really great for him to do so! In fact everyone knows: all the peoplewhether they are the older generation or the younger generation, whether they are engage in the traditional paintings or the avant-garde artsare deeply convinced for his colors. Not all the spectators today are engaged in the western oil painting; some of them are engaged in the traditional Chinese painting, or in sculpture, or in design, and the like. But all of them are devoted to enjoying his works. This is not like many other exhibitions on which people present out of their politeness in the social intercourse. Mr. Dus painting is so charming in any time that I feel it will be a big loss either for the painter himself or for the society if his art is not learnt on time.
l If you observe and analyze over the surface rather than in deep root, your painting will not be expressive, and the image in your work must be false and empty, thus leading your work flashy without substance, hard to be tasted.
Li Deqing(李德清), (通讯)the chief editor of Sichuan Fine Arts: Free and expressive, the art of Mr. Du represents his profound cultivation both in color and in sketch. It is very appreciable to be able to combine the two, and whats more, he has set up a color system with his own style. In our vast country, there is an enormous team of painters, but there are few who can gain an accomplishment in color like Mr. Du. No wonder I have for times heard lots of scholars and painting critics say that he is a master of color in the Southwest and even around the country who can come into being only in one hundred years. Everyone thinks the criticism is hard to be overthrown if Mr. Du has a chance to be listed in the masters of color in the China history. But it is a pity that we have no corresponding chance to speak because of the complicated situation of our country. In addition, I also think we should discuss and study the Phenomenon of Du Yongqiao. Standing aloof from the worldly affairs, he devotes himself to painting without any publicity, but he has gained a higher reputation than the painters who are diligent in publicity and in fashion. This is a true revelation for our painting world.
l It is not ordinary painters that can embody endless spirit only within few strokes.
l Firstly, you need to go along the way others have gone. Only if you have caught up with them, it does matter for you how to pioneer a way. Most often, you cannot get great achievement if you want to go your own way at first, blindly aloof and arrogant, refusing to learn from others. Even if you can get a little ahead like this, you will draw a long way to the peak of art.
l The matter is how you paint rather than what you paint because it is rather difficult how to paint than what to paint. Therefore, you, as a painter, must cultivate yourself honestly rather than sugar up your insufficiency with ideas or concepts.
l It is impossible to cover anything in a painting. Someone has praised a painting in all the perfect sayings, thats really nonsense. This is just like a product being advertised as perfect so that people usually doubt its truthfulness. It is also good even if there in a painting is one point affecting or interesting. Why would you embellish your story or even lie?
l A painting is used firstly to be looked rather than to be thought. If a painting is without painting language itself and without its visual attraction, how can it be listed in the painting art? If you like, call it a conceptive art or an image art; but never call it the painting art.
l A confident artist disdains to be deliberately mystifying. He is not interested at all in proving how profound he is because he really knows that shallowness is not equal to plainness and inexplicability is not equal to profoundness either, and because he believe that it needs even more confidence to express plainly and frankly.
l An opportunist painter may cause a stir over a night, but the life of his painting works must be short.
l Chinese oil painting has bright prospects and it can be fully possibly better than Western oil painting. Thats because China has accumulated its traditional culture information for thousand and thousand years with which the Westerners are too far behind to catch up.
l Pablo Picasso is flattered blindly as a myth both at home and abroad. I once observed many of his works in Russia. Indeed, he originally has invented some painting forms, but he is not so surely good as every piece of his works is concerned. Compared with Qi Baishi(齐白石)or with Huang Binghong(黄宾虹), he is not more than a dwarf. Why have so many Chinese people not found that their own great masters are really better than Western ones?
l What Chinese painting looks for is the spirit between the likeness and the unlikeness, and so is the effect desired by a freehand brushwork. The Chinese traditional painting is different from the Western one. The Chinese traditional arts, also including poetry and drama, devote much of their attention to the metaphysical quality, i.e. expressing spirit rather than appearance. Li Bais When the sail goes far and far to the end of the sky/ Only the Yangtze River can be seen flowing at the horizon, Li Shangyins A spring silkworm stops its silk (missing-sick) only when it is dead/ And a candle stops its tears only after it is burnt to ashes, and in Qingtan (Feeling Visit), a Sichuan opera, The night is silent, its color sad, and the bright moonlight is like water soaking the building platform: from them all comes out the miserable wind. The examples are only a few, but none of them directs to appearance. Chinese traditional culture looks in all the sides for spirit but not only appearance. In this sense, we can say that Westerners have not followed the old way of Chinese until now.
If a Chinese oil painter neglects the superiority of his own national culture and follows Westerners unconditionally, is it like to beg with a gold bowl?
l I believe that if oil painting is injected with the spirit of Chinese painting and the two are merged appropriately into one, the quality of oil painting will not be lost at all. However it changes, oil painting has it own genuine taste; there is no question of it being replaced by Chinese painting, nor will it make impression that the painter uses the materials of oil painting to produce a Chinese painting.
For years, in the process of trying to nationalize of oil painting or to absorb the elements of Western painting into Chinese painting, most of people have done it neither fish nor fowl. The result is that oil painting has lost its taste and Chinese painting lost its savor and both of their intrinsic aesthetic interest are damaged. I think it can only work to preserve the interest of one type of painting and then to breathe into the spirit of another type. And only to this, can we really develop the space of either painting. On the way to link the two, it will be quite difficult to succeed if the intrinsic interest of one type is declined or replaced by the interest of another type.
l I feel more and more it is a big sorrow that the oil painting of every school all over the world, even if it is a spirited and expressive one, never has had the taste of Chinese calligraphy. And I think how wonderful it will be if the calligraphic brush taste can be contained in oil painting! As a result, I try my best to enrich the intrinsic interest of oil painting according to the concepts and strokes of Chinese calligraphy, hoping that every stroke in my work would be a calligraphic touch and it would be a frame of the very concrete object if seen in a distance. In other words, I hope to representwith some concrete object and with the Chinese calligraphic tastethe Orient style and spirit, free, easy and aloof, meanwhile to keep up the aesthetic color of oil painting.
If so, the realistic painting may come in a new style: the lyricism of the realistic art is combined with visual impact of the abstract one.
l The effect I expect in my painting should be the following. A painting as a whole is precise and orderly, but its expressive way is unrestrained. The fine details can be seen in its abstract and the abstract can be gained from its fine details. Specifically speaking, the movement of brush is unruly, pungent, clean and general rather than empty, vague or poverty-stricken. It is also complicated but not trivial. Every stroke is as free as possible but in it hide various contrasts, such as light and shade, cold and warm, thick and thin, etc. And in the details of one part, the strokes are interwoven and overlapping so that they can make a mysterious impression. Those strokes connected with all the delicate colors can bring an abstract meaning to a part.
Since the 1990s, I have attached more importance to the use of brush in order to enforce the expressiveness of oil painting. This contains the following three points. The first is the writing of brush, i.e. the writing of Chinese calligraphy in which rhythms are its life. The second is the variety of the brush movement, such as light stroke, scraping stroke and dot stroke, which can express the changes and beauty of the brush movement itself. The last is the mysterious sense of the movement which can be obtained through the interwoven and overlapping strokes, and if so, a painting will be meaningful and tasteful. Any painting will be dull if it can be taken in at only one glance.
l Huang Binghong(黄宾虹，18651955)has indeed created a crest of Chinese landscape painting that has put a great influence upon my oil painting. Being looked at from a far distance, his landscape is majestic, vigorous and powerful, but when looked at in a close distance, it is abstractive. That is to say, in his painting, the landscape is specific as the whole while it is abstract in its every part. His ink seems relaxed and his strokes are all free at his will, unintentional but full of arcane truth, breaking completely through the strong stereotype of Chinese landscape. It is his masterly brushwork that has driven me to the free and spirit-oriented style from my earlier realistic style.
Huangs ink stroke on the paper is of layer upon layer, obviousness in obscurity, thus mysterious and unpredictable. And the sense of its depth and its thickness is great. Such ink needs so masterly skills that no one in the world can copy it. All of these have guided me to do similarly in my oil painting. On the other hand, Huangs ink gradation sinks but not sluggish, which shows the same truth in oil painting that transparency and elasticity are required to appear from dark colors.
l Many people have attempted the so-called nationalization of oil painting, but why is it difficult for them to succeed? And why have most of them even got nothing at all? Because they have failed to realize that it is impossible to merge the two types of paintings, absolutely different both from their appearances and from their spirits, into a new one only by putting their appearances together. I feel deeply that the mergence of the Western painting and the Eastern painting needs a painter to have profoundly known and experienced their spirits as well as their forms. For a Chinese painter, for example, his unique living environment, his growing experience, his traditional consciousness, Chinese poetry and folk arts, all of those are the soil of his soul, shaping his innermost mentality. On the other hand, Chinese traditional painting and calligraphy have provided his mentality with various colorful expressions.
Having commanded completely the methods or languages of oil painting, a Chinese painter can put the taste of brush and inkthe very essential in Chinese paintinginto oil painting; and then he can search of his relevant subject matters to express the feeling of a Chinese. Therefore, the essence of the national culture can be held up and the genuine appearance of Western painting can be kept up with in such a painting which the European must regard as a pure oil painting while the Chinese can recognize from it their own quintessence. This, of course, is not the only way to merge.
In a word, although my experience on this way is from unconsciousness to consciousness, and from passiveness to activeness, I am sure it is impossible for a Chinese painter on this way to have some achievements if he fails to command the two paintings languages, or has little cultivation of the Chinese inner culture. And I also think that the success or failure on this way is decided by ones inner spirit and aesthetics rather than by ones search of expressive forms, because the former is really the root of the latter.