Wang Qi, a renowned printmaking artist, surprised his students and friends at the beginning of 2006 by donating a total of 816 pieces of art works from his private collection to the National Art Museum of China. According to Wang, the museum was a good home of these works, which had been with him for more than half a century.
The donated works have mostly been created by himself since the early 1930s and also by other Chinese and foreign printmakers of the 20th century, some of which were purchased by Wang. He has also swapped some foreign maker's prints with his own works when he staged exhibitions abroad.
Realistic woodblock prints
Wang, a retired professor with the Central Academy of Fine Arts and senior advisor of the Chinese Artists' Association, has created numerous realistic woodblock prints depicting social changes in modern China since the 1930s.
Born in Yibin, Southwest China's Sichuan Province in 1918 into an affluent family, Wang received basic training in traditional Chinese painting. He was admitted to the Western art department of Shanghai Fine Arts Junior College in 1934.
In 1938, Wang studied in the fine arts department of Lu Xun Literature and Art Institute in Yan'an of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province and embarked on a decades-long road of creating woodblock prints to depict social changes in China. His work Guerillas in Snowy Mountains appeared in Chongqing's Xinhua Daily on February 28, 1939. It portrays Chinese people's fight against Japanese aggressors in Northeast China.
In 1942, the Chinese Woodblock Prints Research Association was established in Chongqing, where Wang was elected as managing director in charge of publishing the group's work in local newspapers and magazines.
Since 1952, Wang has taught in the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing until the early 1990s. And he compiled the first book on Western art history for Chinese artists in the 1960s.
As editor-in-chief of Fine Arts magazine in the early 1980s, Wang introduced the latest overseas information to Chinese artists who were eager to know about the outside world at a time when China was recovering from the chaotic "cultural revolution" (1966-76) and began opening up and reforms.
Because of his outstanding work for Chinese art circles, Wang received a Chinese Modern Prints Outstanding Achievement Award from the Chinese Artists' Association in 1991. In 2003 he was awarded with the China Golden Award for Lifetime Achievement in Fine Arts from the Chinese Artists' Association and All China Federation of Arts and Literary Circles.
(chinaculture September 22, 2006)