Character cultivation cannot be taught by the teacher

Opening time:June 16th, 2018
Duration: 2018.06.16 -- 2018.07.01
Location: Exhibition Hall of Building No. 3, Today Art Museum

Exhibition Preface

Can art be taught? This is a tough question for contemporary art education. If art cant be taught, would it be necessary to have so many art schools? If art can be taught, why didnt so many art students become artists? Actually, this is not a new question. Dating back to the period of the Northern Song Dynasty, Su Shi emphasized that theres no need to study calligraphy. Of course, Su Shi didnt oppose study. So, which parts of art are learnable and which parts are not becomes another question. Guo Ruoxu who lived in the same period with Su Shi answered this question. In The Record of Illustration and Traditional Chinese Painting, Guo Ruoxu raised the proposition that “artistic conception cant be taught, believing that, among the six principles proposed by Xie He, only artistic conception is learnable. Thus it can be seen that all parts belonging to technique in art is learnable while the part that is not learnable belongs to “morality”.

We select three artists for this exhibition, one of whom majored in art, one has never received professional art training, and the other has a different academic background. Yuan Daxi is a very special artist. He majored in history, but he does management works and takes art as a hobby. Yuan Daxi has never studied in an art school, but he has made high attainments in the creation and appreciation of calligraphy, oil painting, Chinese painting and classical music. Daxi has become a good case for us to study the creation of artists who have never received professional art trainings.

Yang Yanling received professional art trainings in Shandong University of Arts and Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA). After graduated from art schools, Yanling successfully entered a calligraphy academy. However, she couldnt make breakthroughs in creation for quite a long period of time. When she was about to bid farewell to artistic creation, just like most graduates from art schools, some coincidences renewed her passion for creation. The case of Yanling prompts us to think what elements are necessary for an art student to become an artist.

Bill Claps graduated from Harvard University where he studied painting and art history. Afterwards, he studied painting and sketch in New York and Florence. Now, he is an active artist in New York and specializes in the creation of visual art, film and literature, etc. We see him as a representative of the artists having different academic backgrounds. Different hereby includes the difference between university and professional art school and the difference between western art education and Chinese art education. We only exhibit the easel works of Bill this time, but his cross-border practices have greatly broadened our understanding of academic art.

Through these three cases, we wish that the audiences and specialists think about what the most important factor is in art.


Peng Feng


Yuan Daxi,Bill Claps,Yang Yanling