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Broad-brush Oil Show Best Since 1994

Art lovers are in for a treat from this weekend in Beijing, as the grandest oil painting exhibition in the country's history will be held in the National Art Museum of China.


Featuring about 2,000 works by artists across the country, the third China National Oil Painting Exhibition will run for four weeks after its opening on August 22. It is hosted by the Ministry of Culture, the Chinese Artists' Association, Chinese Oil Painting Society and Shenzhen Dafei Group.


The exhibition will provide a comprehensive display of the development of oil paintings in China after 1994, the year the second national exhibition was held. It will also explore ways to move art in China forward, said Zhu Naizheng, veteran artist with the Central Academy of Fine Arts, who is director of the show's artistic committee.


"The creation of oil paintings in China in the 20th century was basically an introduction of Western styles and techniques, despite some experiments and achievements," said the foreword to the exhibition.


"People joked Chinese oil painters had given a complete review of all Western modern art schools in the past two decades," said Zhu.


"A U-turn must be made in the new century to create oil paintings with a contemporary spirit, ethnic characteristics and individual thought. Only thus can we earn a ticket to the world hall of art."


The exhibition, which aims to promote such a rethink of modern Chinese art, is an academically rigorous one. Dozens of symposiums, including two involving more than 100 researchers and artists, have been held since 2000 on the selection and display of works for the exhibition.


After the exhibition, a "China Oil Painting Creation Symposium" and a "China Oil Painting International Forum" will be held. They will be hosted by the exhibition's organizing committee, the Institute of Fine Arts, Chinese Academy of Arts, and the non-government Chinese Ethnic Culture Promotion Committee.


The works on show in the exhibition have been chosen from more than 10,000 pieces recommended by artists' associations of 32 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, said Zhu.


The exhibition will be divided into four phases, with 500 works on display each week from Friday.


About 300 works will be chosen from the 2,000 on display to represent possible new paths for Chinese oil paintings. They will be exhibited again in the national art museum in November.


"We expect the exhibition to be a new starting point for Chinese oil paintings in the new century," said Zhu.


(China Daily August 18, 2003)

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