By Claire Roberts
This publication charts a different friendship among artistic people who contributed to shaping chinese language tradition within the 20th century – the respected conventional painter Huang Binhong and the younger, cosmopolitan critic Fou Lei.
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Extra info for Friendship in art : Fou Lei and Huang Binhong
The following year, Fou Lei travelled with Liu Haisu and Liu Kang to Brussels, where they admired paintings by Rubens and other Flemish masters at the Royal Museum of Art (Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts). They attended the Exposition Internationale de Liège, an event celebrating the centenary of Belgian independence, to which the Chinese government had sent a large display of trade, educational and agricultural goods. There was also an exhibition of some 180 Chinese artworks. 10 This would have been Fou Lei’s first encounter with paintings by Huang Binhong.
Some claim they are the vanguard of the leftists and copy the styles of their Cubist, Futurist and Dadaist idols, but they know nothing about the significance of those schools or their origins. Others call themselves humanitarians because they make work inspired by proletarian literature (depictions of labourers and coolies, and so on and so forth, on canvas). Yet their art conveys no real or vital sentiment, nor do they demonstrate a particularly solid grasp of technique. They hoist the flag of new idealism (but the masters and disciples are in fact themselves) and bestow upon their works titles such as ‘Searching’, ‘Frustration’, ‘At One With the People’ … If truth be told, it is much easier to come up with a sonorous title than to demonstrate any real talent.
They attended the Exposition Internationale de Liège, an event celebrating the centenary of Belgian independence, to which the Chinese government had sent a large display of trade, educational and agricultural goods. There was also an exhibition of some 180 Chinese artworks. 10 This would have been Fou Lei’s first encounter with paintings by Huang Binhong. Liu Haisu and Fou Lei travelled to Italy in May 1931, visiting Rome, Naples and Sicily. Among Fou Lei’s surviving personal papers is a document titled ‘Passeport (Officiel)’ (Figure 10), issued by the Chinese Legation in Paris on March 1931 to facilitate his trips to Switzerland and Italy, ‘on a mission to study art and as Secretary-General of Chinese Artists in France and the Exhibition of Chinese Art in Paris’.