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Chrysanthemums and Sparrows Chrysanthemums and Sparrows, ink and color on paper, 30 1/2 x 14 1/2 in. Colophon by Huang Binhong Crossing the Bridge Crossing the Bridge, 1948,
ink and color on paper,
41 1/2 x 18 in
River Landscape River Landscape, ink and color on paper, 40 1/2 x 19 in

Shao Yixuan was born in eastern Zhejiang province in 1886, into a family of intellectuals where painting was somewhat of a tradition. His cousin, Shao Piaoping, a famous journalist who participated in the founding of Chinese communism, was a calligrapher in Beijing. His sister, Shao Yiping, was a painter. Later, his son, Shao Shaoyi, studied Chinese painting with Qi Baishi (1863-1957) and his daughter, Shao Youxuan, studied with Zhang Daqian (1889-1983). Shao, himself, studied Chinese painting with the artist, Zhang Shuqi, who later became a professor at National Central University in the wartime capital of Chongqing. Although not widely known today, in the first half of the 20th century, Shao was recognized as one of the most important and influential artists of his time. He taught painting at the National Academy of Art in Beijing from its inception until sometime in the 1930s. While he was teaching there, Xu Beihong (1895-1953) was the Dean of the School. Shao was a close friend to his contemporaries, Qi Baishi (1864-1957), Huang Binhong (1865-1955), Chen Banding (1876-1970), Wang Mengbai (1888-1934), Pu Ru (1896-1963), Xiao Sun (1883-1944), Yu Shaosong (1882-1949), Yu Feian (1889-1959), and Chang Dai-chien (1899-1983). This group of brilliant artists surrounding Shao, a kind of Beijing painting salon, shared intellectual and artistic pursuits and collaborated on paintings. The high quality of the cooperative paintings they created reflects the compatibility of their intellect, talent and the spirit of fraternity.

The art of Shao Yixuan can be characterized under the heading of literati painting adhering to a stylistic branch that follows the individualists of the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. Those artists declared the right to individual expression and the necessity to carefully study nature, of which the painter himself forms a part. Shitao (1641 – c. 1720), who took actual scenery, such as that of his beloved Mt. Huang, as subject of his paintings, is the most renowned proponent of this style, and his painting profoundly affected Shao. Additionally, the Shanghai school of painting penetrated into conservative Beijing, and Shao incorporated elements from the Shanghai style that exhibited free and spirited brushwork, emphasizing calligraphic abstraction.

Autumn Mist Autumn Mist, ink and color on paper,
41 x 13 1/2 in

The 20 paintings in this exhibition illustrate Shao Yixuan’s scope and development as an artist over a period of thirty years. They demonstrate Shao’s influence in the modern art world and his friendship with the other most important artists of modern China. Shao’s acceptance into the first rank of modern artists is proven by the acknowledgment of his peers. Many of the works in the collection carry colophons by Shao’s contemporaries and are magnificent examples of paintings by these famous artists working together. They are a record of a dialogue that took place among so many great artists and that must never be lost to history. Although Shao died in 1954, he may be celebrated today through the genius of his paintings.

Sparrows in the Reeds Sparrows in the Reeds, 1953, ink and color on paper, 79 1/2 x 21. Colophon by Qi Baishi Strolling in the Autumn Mountains Strolling in the Autumn Mountains, 1936, ink and color on paper, 46 x 16 in Hazy Landscape After Rain Hazy Landscape After Rain, 1952, ink and color on paper, 45 1/2 x 16 in

© 2006 Copyright for China 2000 Fine Art


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