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 Wang Changkai
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As the celebration for the 60th anniversary of the establishment of New China is approaching, a seventy-year-old oil painter, who has witnessed the dramatic changes of this country for 60 years and went through decades of hardship, is now stepping into his old yet golden age.
In the past one-and-a-half year, with his passion, superb techniques, natural and unrestrained brushstrokes, he painted a few dozens of oil paintings to express his love for motherland on which his life is spent and footprints are left, he also painted to commemorate the birth of this country 60 years ago. This artist, who has drawn worldwide attention, is Mr Wang Changkai.
Wang Changkai is actually one of the first bunch of pupils of Mr Wu Guanzhong. Early in the 1950s and 1960s, he has decided to devote his life to the realm of Chinese art under the guidance and edification of Mr Wu. In these tens of years, he has held onto his belief and principle to live his life earnestly, diligently and to persevere with his goal. The long, painstaking journey of art exploration and test of time has developed his talents, accentuated his skills, matured his style and most of all, formed his dignified, persistent, literati quality. Attributing to his perseverance and hard work, in 1990s he has made his first breakthrough by establishing his own unique skill, style, and school. And since 2000, he has pushed himself further to reach the peak stage of his art life. In recent years, with his series of highly skilled, emotionally touching works highlighted with intense oriental mood, Wang Changkai earned the acclaim from collectors, connoisseurs and the art circle as the most out-performed pupil of Wu Guanzhong, and is regarded as the representing figure in the realm of Chinese Style Oil Painting.
What is Chinese Style Oil Painting? It does not superficially refer to the oil paintings done by Chinese artist, neither to those with Chinese subject matters done with western skills. For example, the kind of oil painting tactically named ¡®Chinese Contemporary Art¡¯ initiated and ventured by international speculators, although polished by certain moods, characteristics and objects of China, its underneath is in fact the kind of Pop Art prevailed in the western trend decades ago. At best it should only be called ¡®Pop Art of Chinese version¡¯.
As it is called ¡®Chinese Style Oil Painting¡¯, it should have brought the distinctive features of oil painting into full play, and elaborate the effects on light, color and multi-dimensional space allowed by the properties of oil and paint. Also, it should emphasize on the effective, irrevocable brushwork. Most importantly, it should be rooted in the aesthetics, ideology and consciousness of Chinese culture, stressing the implied meaning, feeling, conception and the mental state of the artist. Under these prerequisites, it is extremely hard for Chinese artists to put forth a new kind of oil painting which possesses all the above qualities and core values of Chinese art and culture. Many of our artists in older generations have tried hard in this regard but all in vain until Mr Wu Guanzhong¡¯s invention of his ¡®Native Oil Painting¡¯ with his successful search for its vocabulary and possibilities for sustainable development.
In his Native Oil Painting, he is eclectic in adopting both realistic and formal characteristics. His landscape is toned by grey and takes on a two to two-and-a-half dimensional spatial depiction. He also ingeniously combined and balanced the elements of Chinese and Western paintings, created a new category of art different from that of the west, and laid the foundation of ¡®Chinese Style Oil Painting¡¯.
Wang Changkai then carried on the past achievement of his teacher and opened a new way for future. He chose to follow the route of realism. Early in his teenage, he has already gained thorough understanding towards the artistry of oil painting. His in-depth study in chromatics has also enabled him to use different colors in great ease. Moreover, he is strong and familiar with three-dimensional spatial depiction. What¡¯s more is that Mr Wang Changkai, who was born in a scholarly family, is well-versed in the tradition of Chinese Painting. Therefore, when he considered the direction of Chinese oil painting, his vision became clear as he resolved to tackle the problem of brushstroke application and manifestation. Finally, he surmounted the unheard challenge to inject the concept and artistry of accurate, effective brushwork originated from traditional Chinese ink painting into his Chinese style Oil Painting. Wang Changkai, who inherits the persistence of his teacher and went through more than half a life of misfortunes and hardship, has finally lived beyond everyone¡¯s  expectation to have conquered all the difficulties and opened a new chapter of Chinese oil painting history.
It is a pleasure to just look at Wang Changkai¡¯s paintings. His works are loud and clear at first glance, with musical rhythm, variety of interesting topics and filled with refreshing vitality. Not only have his works demonstrated the strong point of oil painting but and his brushstrokes so facile, bold and vigorous that each and every one of them lands on the right spot, absolutely irrevocable and allowing no margin for correction. Thus and so, his art incarnates the core values of the art of Chinese painting. In addition, each painting has a story to tell. They reveal the artist¡¯s views and feelings, offering us much room for thought.
Here are some recent examples.
Poplar ¨C With a few powerful brushstrokes, the artist has instantly depicted the heroic posture of the weather-beaten poplar towering in Gobi. It analogues vitality and will to fight against adversity, the self-expression of the artist.
Zhangjiajie ¨C majestic rivers and mountains, legendary landscape¡­ Zhangjiajie¡¯s scenery carried away the soul of the artist, who now bring back and shares with us such beauty through this work.
Diao Jiao Lou --  Diao Jiao means ¡®hanging foot¡¯. In Hunan Xiangxi, the building stands upright beside the lake, presenting a splendid sight. The artist applied his familiar skills to reappear his impression and feeling in one go
Black sheep running after the Waves ¡ª this is an unusual sight incidentally discovered by the artist by the side of the beach. On the hillside, a group of black sheep contrasts with the shining sea beach. The sheep leap and the waves run after the billows, forming a harmonious melody and a romantic, poetic picture.
Affection for Hainan --  sunlight, sea beach, coconut forest and refreshing breeze altogether construct a unique aroma of the Hainan Island. With unhindered brushwork, forthright composition and strong rhythm, the artist expresses his affection and impressions on Hainan.
Two Coco ---  coconut and yellow palisander wood are well-known Hainan local specialty. The artist successfully portrayed the beautiful grain of the wood using his original technique; while the heavy coconut was done using traditional still-life painting technique. The two objects and the two techniques set each other off so interestingly that the whole piece looks so exotic and artistic.
Homeland of Cranes ¡ª  a group of red-crowned cranes, auspiciously implied luck, gathered leisurely by the lakeside. The lucid and lively brushwork and the accurate modeling fully reveal the artist¡¯s dexterity.
The art of Wang Changkai is a poem, a song, a heart-touching story. It attracts and brings pleasure to every viewer. Therefore in recent years, Wang Changkai gained wide acclaim and high respect from international art-lovers, academics and collectors with his original works, truthful feelings, superb skills, faith in oil painting and his personal charisma.
Taking a macro view at Chinese art history, Chinese painting has gone through a test of five thousand years and finally formed an independent system of art so unique and remarkable among the world. As for the system of oil painting originated and developed from the west, it has been introduced to China for only a hundred years at maximum. In these few tens of years, oil painting has quickened its pace in China and drawn many more artists. Among the different streams, realism has become the most popular movement of the highest technical achievement.
However, although realistic oil painting in China has reached a rather high standard, there is regret in the heart of many realist masters including Mr Chen Yifei who died at his golden age. With Chinese women as his subject matters,
The system of Chinese style oil painting established by Mr Wu Guanzhong has differentiated a new direction from that of the west. The centennial dream of our predecessors to ¡®nationalize¡¯ oil painting has come real for Mr Wu Guanzhong has laid its foundation. Nevertheless, such breakthrough has already exhausted his energy. But still, a number of problems remain unsolved, for instance: (1) how to bring the quality of portrayal accuracy, effects of light and color, as well as spatial construction into full play; (2) how to manifest the supreme Chinese brushwork in oil painting. His successor Wang Changkai has conquered this obstacle. Mr Wu must have been pleased and proud too ¨C for bringing up of a new master.
Wang Changkai successfully solved the problem on how to integrate oil painting and Chinese painting organically. He has invented a kind of skill-required, Chinese style oil painting which established and opened a new mode of oil painting in China. It gives Chinese artists important guidance on how to further our own system of oil painting in future. This is a historic, epoch-making breakthrough. Now, Wang Changkai is at his peak stage of art creation. His persistence and sense of mission made him voluntary in promoting Chinese style oil painting as his unshirkable duty. We can anticipate that Chinese style oil painting, with the prowess of Wang Changkai, is destined to become more and more influential in China and in other parts of the world.
The exhibition ¡®New Works of Oil Painting by Wang Changkai¡¯ jointly organized by Wan Fung Art Gallery and Hainan Taida Art Gallery is about to come to town. This is a presentation of love and passion for the master¡¯s homeland. We are thankful to the supportive government of Hainan in which the artist dwell as his second home, and also Nan Fang Publishing Company. We hereby extend our good wishes that Mr Wang Changkai keeps his health and morale to continue to enhance and glorify Chinese style oil painting, Chinese art, and art of the world at large.
Kwok Homun
Founder, Wan Fung Art Gallery
April 8, 2009
(translated by Terri)
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