Guilin is one of the best-known tourist destinations in China. Millions of tourists, from home and abroad, visit this south China town in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, to see its picturesque Karst hills and caves along the charming Lijiang River.
Huang Shengge, now attending the current session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, says he wants to turn the city, also known for its booming art business in China, into a world-class art center.
China's entry into the World Trade Organization opens up its art market to international artists and investors, and a Chinese painter should lose no time to protect and develop the traditional Chinese painting, and promote it on the international art market, Huang said in an interview with Xinhua.
His application for establishing the Guilin Traditional Chinese Painting College was approved by the local government within a week, and the college was founded on March 1. "It was really a surprise for me to see such work efficiency of the government," Huang said.
China's rapid economic growth and the increasingly greater attention the world has paid to the Chinese painting are the main factors that encouraged Huang to open the school.
What impressed him most when he visited the United States for the first time 20 years ago was the Western hegemony in art. "At that time, few foreigners knew about China, let alone the traditional Chinese painting," he recalled. "The traditional Chinese painting market was so small that no foreigners would care about it."
After 20 years of development, works of well-known Chinese artists like Fu Baoshi, Zhang Daqian and Qi Baishi are sold for hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars. Many foreigners have come to China, to learn about its ancient civilization and modern culture.
"Now it is time for the West to recognize Chinese culture," Huang said.
The traditional Chinese painting in recent years has been in a status of "Karaoke", or self-entertainment, he noted, with millions of people doing it for refining their sentiment and keeping fit.
Students who apply for enrollment in fine art institutes get "favorable treatment" in requirements for educational attainment, compared with others who apply for other specialties at college. As a result, most of fine art graduates will become ordinary painters but not masters, he noted. His college will not offer such "favorable treatment", he said.
"The traditional Chinese painting is a kind of elegant art," he said. "People who want to become a world-class master of the Chinese painting and stun the Westerners, have to make systematic studies in China's literature, history, philosophy and calligraphy.
(Xinhua News Agency March 14, 2002)