11.14 – 11.27. 2019 | Washington D.C.
1343 L St. NW, Washington, DC 20005
In the context of the development of modern sculpture in China, Liu Shiming began with work on Western classical and academic sculpture, inflected with Rodin’s ideas about modern sculpture, but with the demands that the times placed on sculptors of his generation, he soon shifted toward using Soviet ideas and methods to create monumental sculptures and grand narratives focused on China’s leaders and heroes. He had some notable artistic successes, but very quickly, he came to believe that something else was more important. “Regardless of how other people or the trends change, I will still make art in my own way, ensuring that I don’t get swept up in the tide of the times.”
As a result, he chose a distinctive path in sculpture, which he called “Chinese methods.” “Chinese methods and Western methods are different, and I was determined to return to Chinese methods. Chinese methods revere spontaneity, but also stress regularity. You must observe closely and imprint things in your memory, but when you start, you can’t be a stickler; you must simply let loose.”
Similarly, Liu did not conform to the thinking of the time about the artistic conception and essence of sculpture. Instead, he said, “I think that sculpture should be focused on people and the depiction of people, because people are social beings and creators of art. When we lose people and the human spirit, art loses its soul.”
The sociological significance of “man” in the Chinese context emphasizes kindness in interpersonal relationships. China’s classical cultural system was the first to stress the influence of kindness, which has continued to this day. Mencius once said, “Kindness expresses truth and love. Propriety shows respect to others.” (Mencius, Chapter 28). People should be kind and compassionate and treat others accordingly. The relationships between people should be full of friendship, love, and mutual respect.
When Liu Shiming mentioned the “humanist spirit,” he was referring to the essence of humanism in Western classical culture. Since the maxim “Know thyself” was carved onto the door frame of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi during the heyday of ancient Greece, the sociological significance of “man” in the Western context has stressed self-knowledge, independence, and selfimprovement. In this context, interpersonal relationships emphasize respect for people as independent individuals.
Liu Shiming saw people, art, “kindness expresses truth and love,” and thehumanist spirit as the meaning of life and the spirit of art. With his unique “Chinese methods,” he loved people, especially ordinary people, and he loved people living real lives in the everyday world. He also loved people living happy lives in the ideal world. He loved ordinary life, he loved life itself, and he pursued the essence and meaning of life. He explored the unique and diverse manifestations of human nature in China.
The exhibition will present more than sixty bronze works that Liu Shiming personally cast during his lifetime, and we will explore the humanity and the humanist spirit in Liu’s art through four sections entitled “The Meaning of Life: Artifact Study at the National Museum,” “The Essence of Life: An Innocent and an Innocent Heart,” “Real People: Life in the Ordinary World,” and “Ideal People: Joy in the Ordinary World.”
“Kindness Expresses Truth and Love: Liu Shiming’s Sculpture” is the second show in the Liu Shiming traveling sculpture exhibition series organized by the Liu Shiming Sculpture Museum at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. The traveling exhibition has stopped in Washington D.C., the capital of the United States, so that American audiences will come to understand Liu Shiming’s unique sculptures, and the world will recognize the hard work and contributions that modern and contemporary sculptors from China and the Central Academy of Fine Arts have made to sculpture. Viewers will also come to appreciate the modernization that has taken place in the last one hundred years of Chinese sculpture, which has uniquely Chinese characteristics and is rooted in Chinese traditional and local experiences—this mode is entirely different from the modern Western narrative. This perspective will enrich the diversity of narratives of modern art history in the world.
Central Academy of Fine Arts
Liu Shiming Sculpture Museum at the Center Academy of Fine Arts
Asian Cultural Center