Observing the Way with a Clear Heart
Feng Jianguo's Photographic Art Collection Exhibition
2023.09.01 - 2023.10.17
开幕时间 | Opening：2023.09.01 16:00
地点 | Venue : 金杜艺术中心 KWM artcenter
（2nd Floor, East Tower, World Financial Center, 1 Dongsanhuan Zhonglu, Chaoyang District, Beijing）
营业时间 | Opening Time : 周二-六 Tue-Sat 10:00-19:00
The "Observing the Way with a Clear Heart: Feng Jianguo's Photographic Art Collection Exhibition”. opened grandly at the KWM artcenter on September 1, 2023 at 4 p.m.
This exhibition, as an inaugural showcase of large-format photography and platinum-palladium photographic works at the KWM artcenter, was curated by Professor Zhang Gan, the director of the Institute of Contemporary Art at Tsinghua University. The exhibition takes Feng Jianguo's photographic journey spanning over two decades, unveiling the essence of the artist through two remarkable series: "Huangshan Impression" and "Buddhism: Style and Power."
The "Huangshan Impressions" series originated from Feng Jianguo's numerous visits to the summit of Huangshan, where he immersed in Huangshan as a celestial book of nature - it not only boasts incredible landscapes but also possesses profound cultural heritage. Its natural scenery undergoes unpredictable changes throughout the seasons and displays infinite varieties. It embodies the typical yet diverse characteristics of Chinese landscape scenery, combining the grandeur and tranquility of mountains with the fluidity and versatility of water. The artist believes that in traditional Chinese philosophy, immersing in nature and embracing the mountains and waters is a wise practice of returning to simplicity, pursuing the unity of the universe and humanity. The concept of 'landscape' was used by ancient people to encompass mountains and waters in nature, being both concrete and abstract. Mountains and waters resonate with the nature, yet they go beyond it. Confucius's "The benevolent find joy in the mountains, and the wise find joy in the waters" is also a metaphor that is both concrete and abstract, as benevolence and wisdom are not in opposition. In the creation of nature, mountains and waters are often a harmonious pair.
The "Buddhism: Style and Power" series finds its roots in Feng Jianguo's extensive exploration and contemplation over many years of thinking through his lens, drawing inspiration from the Chinese Buddhism in the Han Dynasty and Tibetan Buddhism grottoes and temples. As "Buddha," essentially means "the awakened one." Buddhism places profound significance on the advancement of the human soul and moral awakening. Within Buddhist temples and grottoes, architecture, sculpture, and painting harmoniously unite, the collection draws its essence from the Yungang Tan Yao five stone carvings, hailing from the ancient Chinese Northern Wei Dynasty (AD 460 - 524), and the Dazu stone statues from the Southern Song Dynasty (AD 1127 - 1279). All these materials delve deep into the form, practice, and the unwavering power of meditation inherent in the ancient Chinese Buddhist art.
Without and Within: Feng Jianguo and His Art of Photography
——张敢 Zhang Gan
Gazing upon Huangshan through the lens of Feng Jianguo, my musings instinctively waltz along the echoes of Zhang Zao, a virtuoso from the Tang Dynasty, who once said, "Artistic inspiration springs from both without and within." In this proclaimation, "without" embodies nature's artistry, while "within" points to the artist's intrinsic essence and innermost spirit. As "without" harmonizes with "within," it attains the essence of Chinese landscape painting—artistic conception. The captivating allure of Feng Jianguo's Huangshan photographs resides entirely within the realm of “conception."
As we know, for artistic pursuits, painters often enjoy the privilege of breaking free from the shackles of objective form and skillfully weaving intricate threads of subjectivity and boundless imagination into their works. While photographers find themselves tethered to the canvas of reality, navigating the constraints imposed by nature. Thus, the Norwegian painting maestro Edvard Munch, who held the photography impassioned, sighed, "The camera cannot compete with brush and palette — as long as it cannot be used in Heaven or Hell." However, a spotlight emerges upon the photographer's sacred choice within the confinement. Mirroring the painter's lifelong contemplation on "how to portray" and "what to depict," photographers hold a pursuit of "what to capture" — the very tapestry of themes — emerges as a trial of the photographer's cultivation. In the modern tableau of photography, some decide to unmask the veil of societal quandaries, others unfurl the narratives of enigmatic tribes, while some etch the metropolis's pulse, and a chosen few embrace the vibrant theatre of the animal kingdom. All these choices candidly reflect the artist's inner essence. Kindled by a curiosity for the tapestry of minority cultures, Feng Jianguo embarked on his Tibetan journey to capture large- format portraits. His expression of unvarnished humanity resonates as a beacon of his virtuosity, establishing his position among the Chinese photographers.
While capturing portraits, Feng Jianguo redirected his photographic focus towards Huangshan. As widely acknowledged, Huangshan is celebrated for its breathtaking beauty. Xu Xiake once stated, "There are no other mountains under heaven quite like Huangshan, where the panoramic view reigns supreme." During the early Qing Dynasty, the Huangshan School of Painting, represented by Shi Tao, Hongren, and Mei Qing, was particularly dedicated to portraying Huangshan. Modern artists such as Huang Binhong, Liu Haisu, Zhang Daqian, Li Keran, and Lai Shaoqi also created a plethora of artworks depicting Huangshan. With these predecessors' masterpieces, expressing the essence of Huangshan through photography posed an immense challenge for Feng Jianguo. Across the seasons, varying weather conditions, diverse angles, and even different times of day, Huangshan unveils distinct facets, which necessitate deep immersion in its surroundings for observation and sensory experience. For over a decade, Feng Jianguo has ascended Huangshan each year, using his lens to document the infinite varieties of Huangshan. Feng Jianguo's works exude a profound ambiance akin to traditional Chinese landscape painting, such as Soaring Clouds at North Sea, Clouds and Rain at West Sea, Eighteen Arhats Watching South Sea, Overlooking Towards Autumn Mountain, Lotus Peak in the Rain, and Spring Mist at Chilling Terrace.These works not only embody his continuation of the traditional Chinese perspective on nature but also serve as a synthesis of his artistic experiences over the years, setting him apart among the multitude of photographers capturing Huangshan.
Comparing Feng Jianguo's works with those of contemporary Western photographers, the cultural distinctions become apparent. Western photographers are deeply influenced by the modernist movement in painting. For instance, Candida Hfer's portrayal of vast spaces within libraries, museums, or schools, characterized by symmetrical compositions and rhythmic lines, presents the abstract beauty of classical architecture to the audience. Similarly, Thomas Struth's depictions of modern industrial factories, architectural structures, and streets are imbued with the rhythm and cadence of formal composition. Feng Jianguo's photography not only showcases the profound foundation of his Chinese traditional culture but also reveals his incorporation of formal language from Western contemporary photography. For example, in his works, such as Pine Forest, Whispering Pines in Mist, Viewing Rosy Clouds at Begin-to-believe Peak, and Buddha Light at Yuping Peak, the compositions are intricate, balanced, and dynamic. The lines and the rhythm of black, white, and gray in the images are executed with masterful precision.
In the past, there arose a summation of the diverse styles among the artists within the Huangshan School of painting, "Shi Tao captured the spirit of Huangshan, Mei Qing grasped its essence, and Jian Jiang embodied its quality." As one attentively savours Feng Jianguo's works, it can be said that he has captured the very soul of Huangshan, woven from its ethereal sea of clouds, veils of mist, stoic pine trees, and extraordinary peaks. With my heartfelt aspirations, may the future gracefully unfold more remarkable creations from Feng Jianguo.
In the past, there arose a summation of the diverse styles among the artists within the Huangshan School of Painting, "Shi Tao captured the spirit of Huangshan, Mei Qing grasped its essence, and Jian Jiang embodied its quality." As one attentively savors Feng Jianguo's works, it can be said that he has captured the very soul of Huangshan, woven from its ethereal sea of clouds, veils of mist, stoic pine trees, and extraordinary peaks. With my heartfelt aspirations, may the future gracefully unfold more remarkable creations from Feng Jianguo.
展览现场 | Exhibition View
开幕现场 |Opening Ceremony
Prof. Zhang Gan graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts with a succession of Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral degrees in Art History. In 2002, he started his career in the Art History and Theory Department at the Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University, engaging in teaching and research in Western art history. His primary research domain encompasses European Renaissance art, Western Christian art, Western contemporary art, and criticism of contemporary Chinese art criticism.
He currently works as a member of Tsinghua University's Academic Degree Committee, Chair of the Sub-Committee for Art Studies; Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art Research at Tsinghua University's Academy of Arts & Design; and Chief Editor of the Tsinghua Fine Arts journal.
His academic engagements include Secretary-General of the Art Theory Committee of the China Artists Association; Committee Member of the Teaching Instruction Committee for Theoretical Art Studies under the Ministry of Education; Vice Chair of the Art Education Professional Committee of the China Education Association; and Council Member of the 6th Council of the China Oil Painting Society.
His notable works include Triumph of Painting or Triumph of America? A Study of American Abstract expressionist Painting, 19th Century European Art, Concise Compilation of Foreign Art History, and so on.
Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, Tsinghua University, and a doctoral supervisor
Member of the Academic Committee of the Academy of Fine Arts
Member of the Art Photography Committee of the China Photographers Association
In 2006, he was awarded the title of "Outstanding Contributor to China's Photography Industry Since the Founding of the Nation" by the China Photographers Association. In 2012, he was honored with the 9th China Photography Golden Statue Award, co-hosted by the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles and the China Photographers Association.
He has published seven personal monographs and one translated book:
Monographs Learning Photography from Ansel Adams, Black-and-white Photography, Large Format Photography, Collections: Vision of The West: 1996-2006, The Last Hutong, The Power of Plateaus: Tibetan Portrait 2007-2010, Catalog of Contemporary Chinese Photography·FENG JIANGUO Feng Jianguo, translated works: Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs.
King & Wood Mallesons Art Center
The KWM artcenter opened on 20th October 2016. It is located on the second floor of the WFC center CBD in Beijing. The Art center is supported by the law firm King & Wood Mallesons. The KWM artcenter presents and promotes artists both domestically and overseas as well as building up its own collection. In particular, it acts as a rare art institution at the heart of the economic central area in Beijing. It provides high-quality art educational activities and courses aimed to cultivate art lovers and collectors. It serves to improve the international influence of Chinese Art and become a powerful communicator of Chinese Contemporary Art.
北京市朝阳区东三环中路1号环球金融中心东塔2层2012nd Floor, East Tower, World Financial Center 1 Dongsanhuan Zhonglu,Chaoyang District Beijing