Beginning November 18, 2010, the Seattle Asian Art Museum will present 26 works by contemporary Chinese painter Wang Huaiqing [pronounced WONG-WHY-CHING], including one large scale piece on display at SAM Downtown. This will be Wang’s first solo exhibition at a major American museum and gives Seattle and the Pacific Northwest region an opportunity to look closely at an artist widely appreciated in Asia. Wang Huaiqing: A Painter’s Painter in Contemporary China demonstrates that contemporary art in China is not limited to the expression of cultural revolution and post-Mao era remorse. Indeed, it is a story about a mature artist moving beyond politics and exploring purely artistic issues. Because of that, Wang is an important contemporary Chinese artist whose artistic sensibility fosters greater cultural understanding.
Born in Beijing in 1944 to a modest family, Wang Huaiqing was one of 40 students from a pool of 30,000 applicants selected to attend middle school at the prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts. At the young age of 12, Wang was immersed in government-sponsored art training which continued amidst the backdrop of great oppression in China. During the Cultural Revolution he endured the hardship of labor camps and painted secretly in the dark of night. It was during this time that he became a member of the progressive group that later came to be known as The Contemporaries. This painting society was formally established in 1979 and, in the words of Wang, the group’s objective was to “brush away the ugliness, perversity and deception, and preserve beauty, warmth and candor” on canvas—a starkly different approach from that of the radical “dissident art” groups that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s. Although members of The Contemporaries separated in 1982, Wang’s work continued to eschew an overt political agenda; instead, he chose to animate conventional objects and give them character.
Wang Huaiqing: A Painter’s Painter in Contemporary China spans four decades and includes oil paintings, prints and drawings assembled from a variety of private collections in China and Taiwan, as well as the Shanghai Art Museum and the artist’s own collection.
—Josh Yiu, Foster Foundation Associate Curator of Asian ArtEducational Resources
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The exhibition is presented by the Seattle Art Museum with the support of Yuanta Financial Holdings and TKG Foundation. Supporting sponsors are the Katherine Agen Baillargeon Endowment and Hong Kong Association of Washington Foundation.
Forgotten Garden, 1986–89, Wang Huaiqing, Chinese, b. 1944, oil on canvas, 63 x 55 in., Collection of the Shanghai Art Museum, © Wang Huaiqing