By the end of the 19th century, Chinese and Western painters began
to learn from each otherís works. East Asian painting had a profound
influence on modern Western painters such as Van Gogh and, later, the
American Abstract Expressionists. For Chinese painters, the introduction of
Western painting techniques in the 1920s and the modern art concept in the
1950s opened a whole new world for them. Therefore, 20th-century Chinese
painting is one of the most exciting chapters in the history of Chinese art.
This exhibition deals with paintings done in the traditional painting media
of China, namely, Chinese ink and/or colours applied with Chinese brushes on
paper or silk. It includes works from the major periods of development of
Chinese painting in this century.
At the beginning of the 20th century, all the great masters were trained
wholly in the scholarly styles of painting of imperial China. Wu Changshuo
and Qi Baishi were among the most famous.
In the first quarter of the century, some younger painters studied the art
of Western painting abroad. Upon their return to China, they chose to
combine their knowledge of Western art with the use of traditional
Chinese materials and techniques. They started a whole new development in
By the middle of the 20th century there was war and political turmoil in
China, which directly influenced the development of Chinese painting.
However, great art continued to be created.
After 1976, Chinese painters enjoyed an unprecedented artistic freedom. The
older masters could further develop their individual styles. The younger
generation was free to start new experiments.