必威体育betway888Allan’s Speech for the Opening of Exhibition by Dr Qijun Wang

  Professor Allan Walker

  Dean of the School of Arts and Media

  University of Salford

  Director, Ladies and Gentlemen,

  I am delighted to be here this evening to say a few words about
Qijun and to welcome you to this exhibition which gives such a
fascinating and beautiful insight into contemporary landscape painting.
It also provides, in its detail, a scholarly introduction to the
waterside towns which exist in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River in
Qijuns home province of Jiangsu. Water and learning how to live on flood
plains are topical subjects at the moment and especially so in the UK
where we are experiencing the worst continuous rainfall and flooding for
250 years. The Yangtze river towns, several of which have UNESCO World
Heritage Status, have had to cope with other problems including the 3
Gorge Dam Project, itself an attempt to control flooding, and the
effects of urbanisation.

  I was in Beijing last month and with Xie Yan, we visited Qijuns
studio in the 798 District. Qijun rolled up the heavy steel shutters on
the outside of the building and we entered into a large studio with a
mezzanine floor. The studio had been turned into a temporary gallery
with paintings everywhere; on the walls, stacked on the floor, some
packed ready for exhibition and others still only half complete. There
were oil paintings on canvas, similar in their realist style to the work
in this exhibition and also a large number of Chinese ink paintings.
Although appearing different it was clear that the traditional
techniques exemplified in the ink paintings were also evident in and
informed the oil paintings. These ink paintings were visual narratives
and anecdotes and very much revealed Qijuns keen intellect and sense of
humour. The versatility in which Qijun is able to work across different
media is impressive.

  In the main part of the studio, oil paintings hung on the walls and
included compositions of the waterside towns, similar to the ones we are
celebrating this evening, portraits of opera singers and various models
in Chinese traditional costume and a series of work which depicted
contemporary life in Tibet. Qijun guided me around his exhibition
sharing his ideas, subject matter and techniques. He also provided
fascinating insight into his field-work and the various stages of
production from initial research and recording through detailed drawing,
composition, technical construction and painting.

  Qijun is, of course, an acknowledged expert on the history and
theory of Chinese architecture and in particular traditional vernacular
styles. He studied for an MA at Chongqing Institute of Architecture and
Engineering and gained his doctorate from Qinghua University. He has
toured the country, and like Sir Nickolaus Pevsner in the UK, has
searched out rich examples of Chinas long architectural tradition. He
has recorded these buildings, producing several volumes of drawings, and
his book, Chinese Architecture is published in several languages
including German, Chinese, English, Japanese and French. This and other
publications by Qijun provide a detailed record of historical buildings
and their construction materials and techniques, many of which are under
threat as China grows and experiences urbanisation on a rapid and
massive scale.

  It is this knowledge base which informs his work as a historian,
teacher and artist and in his painting he is meticulous in his attention
to detail. However, the compositions are not a literal transcription of
specific buildings and spaces, they are much more of a translation,
selected and changed according to the needs of format and composition to
create a stronger sense of reality. It is the same with his portraits,
he has worked with a remarkable degree of detail, yet also it is clear
that to achieve an overall sense of composition, he has shifted his gaze
and the level of detail accordingly. These paintings show Qijun as a
highly sensitive artist who has the rare ability to capture in a few
marks the essence of different materials, for example, of complex and
delicate vegetation in contrast to the more substantial construction of
the buildings.

  I first met Qijun at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing in
2005, it was a sunny spring morning and he was wearing his signature
bright yellow shirt. The shirt matched his smile and I knew immediately
that it was going to be a pleasure to work with this charming and
generous man. Qijun, like many of his generation, has suffered
particular hardship during his life, and it has always been his great
skill as an artist that has come to the fore in times of need and
provided him with a strong sense of purpose and direction.

  The paintings in this exhibition are the product of a local artist.
Qijun came from Nanjing and studied fine art at the Department of Fine
Arts at the Nanjing Academy of Arts. He had already developed a deep
understanding of the traditional Jiangnan residential buildings, bridges
and canals which typify the water towns located along this Southern part
of the great Yangtze River.

  Finally, Qijun, Director and Curator, thank you for giving us the
opportunity to see these paintings which represents a view of
traditional China and its rich architectural history and ways of life.
For it to be brought to us by such an accomplished researcher-scholar
and immensely talented artist is a treat. Indeed, I do hope you will
join me in congratulating Qijun and also thank all who have made this
exhibition possible.

Allan Walker

16 February 2014

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