KE WENHUI, Researcher of the Researching Academy of Chinese Art

Two decades before in QINGDAO, old master LIU HAISHU always mentioned three students of his 30 years ago in SHANGHAI.They are CHEN SHEFA, LI LOGONG and YAN MING. He said, "There were very few painters of the second generation in the 20th century who knew about foreign art. They were overshadowed by their masters so it was difficult for them to be well-known. In fact they have made a lot of real achievements in the fields of education and creation. Their contribution should not be forgotten. Especially those artists who were far away from big cities, growing up in the war. It was very difficult for them to set their unique personality under the impact of political movement,such as YAN MING who was so enthusiastic in the Anti-Japanese movement. He took part in the "Art-Show" held in South Asia, a Sale for public charity to support the Anti-Japanese war. (The money was sent to GUIZHOU Province). Later YAN MING was working hard in JIANGXI Province. I have a great expectation of him." Not long before, I was lucky to have the chance to appreciate many of YAN MING's paintings, which reminded me of the old master's praise to him and I was greatly moved. Mr. YAN has been a student of famous masters, WANG YACHEN, PAN TIANSHOU, WANG SHENYUAN, XIE GDNGXHAN, WU FUXHI etc. The teaching method then in the Art College was mainly in accord with the idea of WU CHANGSHUO, technically following the style of DAXIEYI set by their predecessors BADA of YANGZHOU, the four monk painters, XU QINGTEN and CHEN BAIYANG. This style of DAXIEYE had enabled QI BAISHI to be well-known. There have been very few painters who could be successful as HUANG BINGHONG in inheriting the spirit of the famous masters of the SONG, YUAN and other dynasties. In spite of trying hard to learn from QI BAISHI and PAN TIANSHOU, YAN MING was well aware that it was impossible for him to surpass his masters so he was determined to go his own way, to establish a unique style of his own according to his own ability . Encouraged by the times, he began his constant research, taking the natural creatures as his teachers, trying his best to get rid of repeating what his masters had done. Besides, he read a lot so as to enrich his own knowledge. He went on researching and studying painstakingly and tirelessly, tempering himself by obtaining joy from hard working. As a result he set a new and excellent unique style of his own outstanding in the painting field. His paintings are characterised by refinedness, concision, exquisiteness, magnificence meaningfulness, vigorousness and profoundness. As an artist, Pro. YAN sees the world childishly, which enables him to reach the inner purity of the objective, getting rid of the complexity of their appearance,to obtain the freshness from the flashiness and gaudiness and make his painting full of poetic implication. His art works present the viewers a peaceful atmosphere. It is worthwhile for experts to appreciate them. From the works we see the artist's personality as a noble-minded old master. From his paintings, "Sound of Autumn," "Water melon","Peony" and "Welcoming the Spring",we can see the artist's deep love for life, his enthusiasm and high spirit. His brushwork is full of strength but not rough, which implies the style of QI BAISHI but without a single stroke that is copied from the master. His paintings are filled with vitality. The colours are bright and the brush stokes are free and mellifluent without any affectation. The ink applied is thick but transparent and elegant. In the painting "Conversation".the intimacy of the two birds conveys the common and dear love, suggesting the pursuit of friendship to get rid of loneliness. In the painting,"Loquat Fruit" we can see the influence of his master, PAN TIANSHOU's style but have completely absorbed and become his own. The objects painted are of an extraordinary gesture, which also tells us that what is art is neither the copying of the nature nor departing from it, From his paintings we can see what he paints implies his emotion. The running of his brush is according to his feelings, so when he paints what he is thinking is not what he is painting and how to paint but the expressing of his feelings, which direct him and tell him when and where to begin and when and where to stop. The lines applied are like the strings of musical instrument giving out beautiful music, presenting the viewers not only visual delight but a sweet melody, which is what the artist is in pursuit of. I am not saying that his art has already reached extreme perfectness but we see that he is scaling a new heights along this artistic way. Mr. YAN's most remarkable achievement is his painting of mountains and waters in DASHYI style. The artistic conception of his painting has a breakthrough compared with that of his predecessors. The colours applied in his paintings are bright and fresh and the brush strokes are refined and mellifluent full of the feelings of modern age. Technically Mr. YAN is so masterful as the saying goes, "The masterfulness of the application of techniques relies on the mind", YAN's success relies on his personal cultivation In the painting "Ten-mile Corridor", the mountain peaks in CHANG JIAZHAI are depicted in bright colours of red, yellow and blue showing striking contrast with one another. The painting presents the viewers a feeling of the movement of a solid mass. The peaks thrusting through the clouds stand firmly reminding us of the heroic spirit of our people, which conveys not only the nimbus of the nature but the spirit of human beings , suiting both refined and popular tastes. Both the colours and ink are so accurately applied that it enables the imagery of the nature to be so vivid. The achievement of the artist is bringing the viewers great visual enjoyment and at the same time enables them to see his painstaking effort. "The Sunrise in HUANGSHAN Mountains" is a painting that can accurately depict the real natural nimbus of the Mountains. In the painting a strange scene is seen: The morning sun is rising in the east while the last moon is still in the west. The branches are painted in thick dry ink to convey their texture. The mountains are painted sharp in angular lines straight up and down. The pine trees are growing vigorously depicted in watery ink strokes fully suggesting the vitality of the nature. YAN's painting style of mountains has a striking unique style of his own after the great masters, LIU HAISHU and ZHANG DAQIAN. We may name the mountains in his painting the mountains belong to YAN School. "DASHEYI" style is a unique tradition of Chinese Painting having a very long history. After the development of several centuries there have been uncountable successful masters who belong to this style of painting. Some renovators of this style have combined it with painting style of the west. As for the cultural base, there exists the realism of the SONG Dynasty and the musical feelings of the YUAN Dynasty, including the style of integration of "SHEYI" and "GONGBI", which put emphasis on the implication of brush strokes applied. Pro. YAN is already an old man but implied in his works is the vitality of youth. It is my wish that he study and analyse more the master works before MING Dynasty on the base of painting from life, renovating constantly always keeping on the high level of pursuing the connotation from objective truth so as to hand down the spirit of painting before YUAN and SONG Dynasties from generation to generation. In our country nowadays there are many artists but few of them can be regarded great masters. I think it is a bright future for us to follow the way that Mr. YAN has pioneered. I heartily wish artists old and young would gather to make further research to develop the essence and get rid of what are useless so that we will be able to scale to a higher level. (The above article appeared in periodical "The Fine Arts" 7th issue,2004.) KE WENHUI Researcher of the Researching Academy of Chinese Art