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Thread: What I have learned about art education in China...

  1. #1
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    What I have learned about art education in China...

    Well, I don't have all details on the art students life and their education, but as I understand it their education goes something like this:

    The China Academies of Art (in the Peoples Republic) have art education on university level among the best in the world. To apply to one of the academies, 8 of them, wether it is oil painting, animation, architecture, 3D design, traditional art...or whatever, you have to be very well prepared.

    Right after high-school there is a pre-preparing education where about 800.000 students every year study for 6 months. The education is 12 hours a day ranging from Bauhaus geometric drawing, classical freehand drawing, oil painting from live model, colour theory, sculpting, and so on...

    After this must going through 6 month 12 hours a day basic art education (it does not matter if you want to be an architect or an illustrator, traditional artist or free contemporary artist, you have to do this) the student is ready to enter a pre-university education. If the student passes that, the route to the Academy of Arts is open.

    That is probably why art students and artists are about the most well educated in the whole world. The art education is very solid, founded in European / Western classical and modern art theory and skills, as well as the Chinese classical and modern counterpart.

    This is some I have found out by reading open sources on the Internet, magazines and books and by discussing with friends living in and visiting China. One of them, is printing her childrens picture books over there and she now and then meet some chinese illustrator collegues and talk about the Art Education subject. So she has told me about it. If you find I am wrong about my understanding of the chinese art education system, please tell me so...I am Always willing to learn some more.

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    Last edited by Henry Stahle; 10-23-2013 at 09:06 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Hi Henry, I see what you mean, that their preparation is intense ... I taught for many years at university there (literature, film, art history), and the educational system pretty much is as you describe it ...

    I don't doubt there are (and will be) many great artists among them ... It's just that I imagine you are the product of a very different system, and I would take any drawing of yours first as an example of the highest degree of freedom in art ...
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  3. #3
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    Interesting thread. China is such a machine that seems to churn out workers who lose their souls. This image is the one that makes me sad.

    Attachment 77503


    Apart from that, the Chinese produces some talented and enviable work now that things are a bit looser.

  4. #4
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    I suppose the world could use a few thousand more images of Marx ... Or is that Tolstoy? ... Whatever, Socialist Realism with Chinese characteristics ... You say "workers" and I think that's right, it seems to be a workshop engaged in making replicas of a painting for commercial purposes, using the tools of art without much thought of art ...

    What is it about the photo that makes you sad? Is it that mass production can so easily debase originality? ...
    xiěyž, n. freehand brushwork, spontaneous expression
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  5. #5
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    Makes me sad? I guess the sweatshops of China we see and hear so much about.

    Maybe they're not workers and doing the big training copying the masters,

    Maybe that all has its place if the buyers can pretend they are sort of real.

    No, the old Communist Art is not what I am thinking of; there are artists I have seen that are really exciting and I've seen some absolute rippers here on Art Rage!

  6. #6
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    "workers who lose their souls"....?

    Quote Originally Posted by copespeak View Post
    Interesting thread. China is such a machine that seems to churn out workers who lose their souls?. This image is the one that makes me sad....
    Well, without them all soulless chinese workers, say, for instance, Apple would not make such cheap and userfriendly toys for our westerners... these chinese workers "without souls" sew our cheap tees, jeans and other clothes. Make our Adidas and other sneakers... lose their souls? I don't know if they lose their souls. Do workers, say in Detroit, lose their souls? I don't know.

    Maybe it is just nice being outside the factory walls taking a class in traditional classical oil painting, together with workmates, neighbours and friends. The teachers are walking around instructing, cheering all up and telling what is wrong and what is right. After one and a half hour there is a break, the slow music in the park is tuned down, everybody chats, walks around looking at one anothers paintings and talk about their new oil-painting hobby while the sip their tea. How inspiring and relaxing it is to meet all their friends and to be out in the free air after a long hard week in the factory. After a while the main teacher calls everybody back and the rest of that noon there is an intense study of painting skin shades, tints and ambient light just mixing two colors and White + linseed oil. 4 hours of teaching for free every saturday in the central park!...and after that some go home to continue painting at home. Soulless as usual?

    Maybe this pic is from one of the classes for hobby painters one fine day in the central park of the city of Hangzhou? Maybe? or what does the photo show? Or is it from of one of the classes of pre-pre-univeristy studies where all studensts must walk through all classical artistic methods to get to know both eastern and western art? I dont know, maybe...?
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  7. #7
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    Oh Henry, I don't want to argue. I saw a show a while back where there were heaps of lovely young women stuck in awful dormitories, and forced to work horrific hours. They're the ones who are doing it hard.

    See:

    "Wu Han Wu is one of the workers who make their living as piecework producers of fake art. The 29-year-old man left school after grammar school. He shares a cramped top-floor studio with six of his co-workers. They work and live there. Small children play between rolled up canvases. Finished paintings hang suspended from the low ceiling so they can dry. The piecework painters toil away in the dim light for 12 hours every day. They always work on two paintings simultaneously."

    "Wu can churn out between 20 and 30 copies in a day."

    from: http://www.spiegel.de/international/...-a-433134.html

    End of subject for me. I'm out of this thread and won't be back.
    Last edited by copespeak; 10-24-2013 at 11:46 PM.

  8. #8
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    Bad things said about fellow humans in China...

    Bad things said about fellow humans in China...I see you edited your statement about "workers who lose their souls" and I am happy about that.

    This thread was hi-jacked by a discussion about something that was not very relevant to the thread I started "What I have learned about art education in China..." I am used to that in this forum, so I also quit this thread...

    By the way, here is a link to a digital artis I find very good and inspiring: Zhichao Cai in Hangzhou, China and here. Here is the main site.
    Last edited by Henry Stahle; 10-25-2013 at 08:26 PM.
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  9. #9
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    For once, Henry, whatever our disagreements in the past, I have to agree with you.

    Folks, he posted about how impressed he was with the training of people in the arts in China, based on a personal experience/ conversation he had. Why has this degraded into a conversation about sweatshops? I know there are many sweat shops in China, and I'm sure many people work long, terrible hours replicating work for the more financially privileged to buy, but I'm also sure there are all kinds of artists coming out of China who have benefited from their dedication and long hours of work, and who feel there's nothing "soulless" about their work. I know I'm not a moderator here or anything, but if you want to talk about sweatshops, wouldn't it be more polite to start a new thread on that subject?

    As for the pic posted, I have to say-- not knowing the true context of the pic, I find nothing depressing about it in the least. It may be that they're all soulless slaves there, painting endless reproductions, but it may also be that they're all eager students learning the ropes and doing a fantastic job. If that picture were full of white Europeans, I think many of us (atleast myself) would be quite impressed at their skill set, and give them lots of accolades for their tough work and dedication.

    Honestly, my personal experience (from living in Hong Kong- so a limited one at that) was that those Chinese students I met were perfectly at ease dedicating themselves to task and working long hours to achieve it. My experience has been that, for example, Americans have their own common strengths (thinking out of the box comes to mind, a chummy familiarity, etc), but that a tough work ethic where long hours of dedication learning from someone else is not one of them. We want self-expression immediately from the get go! But I'm not always sure that's the best path. Some times it's good to spend the long hours necessary to understand a medium/ get it to do what you want without being attached emotionally to the final result. Failure becomes less personal, and therefore a better learning experience.
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  10. #10
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    A little control freaky, are we?

    I'm still not sure why people think any topic is so narrow and only fits what one person thinks applies. Especially with artists. Geez. But then I'm American and we think outside the box. . . apparently. Not sure about the Aussies though. They've no right to think outside the box without a license and I think the Brits were right kicking the bad apples clear off the island as far away as they could possibly get them. They kept saying off topic stuff like "I'm hungry". And then look what happened. Ruddy blighters. Can't shut them up, especially when they see the situation around them.

    I haven't noticed the people actually showing up in the threads to post such plentiful or knowledgeable comments that it's enough to own a topic let alone say enough to engage others. Notice how quickly the threads die, especially with all this whining. General Chat. Public Forum.

    Want total control, write a book. . . or buy one. And get into Mathematics or something like programming where it's all about precision. But please don't insult and try to bully my friends when they speak their mind. I for one am most interested in anything they have to say.

    Excuse me, but my chauffeur just pulled up in my Huff and I'm leaving in it. Old habits die hard apparently.
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