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Sidelights on Liu Youju's Art Exhibition – Illusionism from China

Source:Cultural FortuneAuthor:Youpeng (a young artcritic)


"Whenideographic lines come across the French Impressionism and the American actionart while the Chinese culture encounters the different Western culturalconcepts, the obstructions as thick as city walls between them collapse in LiuYouju's illusionistic paintings, where he creates a beautiful borderless spacefor the humankind."

                     —— La Repubblica, June 16, Italy

OnJune 15, a historical dialogue about culture named Demolition VS Construction –the Exhibition of Liu Youju's Illusionism Paintings and a tasting party calledIllusionism Feast, were co-held by the Florence National Academy of Fine Artsof Italy and the Italian Contemporary Art Association at the Florence NationalAcademy of Fine Arts. Over 500 celebrities in all walks of life attended theparty, including the Florence Culture Sector Officer Maria Federica Juliano,Florence Academy of Fine Arts President Cristina Giachidini, former presidentof the academy for as long as 20 years Dominick Vezzano, Professor andExhibition Planner Enrique Satoni, Assistant Dean Jadominick Seminlalo, Schoolof Painting Director Andre Garand, Anna Bazani, Italy Contemporary Art SocietyPresident and Editor-in-Chief of Art Monthly Florence is You! AnnaBalzani, Italian Stylist and Artwork Broker KikiMontanelli and othercelebrities in all circles.

Liu Youju was born in Jiexi, Guangdong Province, China, in 1955. He is awell-known artist, ideologist, cultural scholar and art critic. Born inLingnan, Liu Youju is a true inheritor of the Lingnan Painting School, with anapproach to art and innovative spirit that integrates both Eastern and Westernstyles. Coming to the stage of China and even of the world from Lingnan, he'sfollowing the previous wise men of Lingnan—Kang Youwei, Liang Qichao, and SunYat-sen. His bones carry the spirit of a revolutionist.

This is another one of Liu Youju's important painting exhibition overseasafter the ones held in the Louvre, the British Museum and the Richard NixonPresidential Library and Museum. It has gained support from the art circles,the academic circles, the media and the government of Florence, which isconvincing proof of the charm of Liu Youju and his illusionistic paintings.

Cristina Giachidini, a famous art historian and an expert of ancientpainting restoration in Italy, made a speech at the opening ceremony: "Heis the first Chinese person to hold a personal painting exhibition and givelectures in the Florence National Academy of Fine Arts of Italy through ourinvitation. Additionally, an expert seminar for his individual works will beheld at the headquarters of the academy by the academy, this is something wehave already thought over carefully. Liu Youju's illusionistic paintingspresent dual characters through the integration of the Chinese and Westerncultures. At the same time, they also have independent cultural characters. Hehas initiated a kind of new painting style." Italian artist DominickVezzano said, "Every one of Liu Youju's paintings is a new life withpowerful individual spirit, which is miraculous."

In the afternoon of June 16, The Seminar of Liu Youju's Works was held atthe headquarters of the Florence National Academy of Fine Arts of Italy. Peoplewho showed up at the seminar include Dominick Vezzano, Jadominick Seminlalo,Andre Garand, Enrique Satoni, and Christina Muccini, an Italian art critic andpresident of the Milan Brera Academy of Fine Arts.

At the seminar, Christina Muccini told a story: "Zhuangzi in China isversatile. He is also a painter with exquisite skills. The king asks him todraw a crab and he says that he needs five years to finish it. The king agrees.Five years later when the king goes to take the painting personally, Zhuangzihasn't started it yet and says that he needs another five years. The kingagrees again. Another five years later when the king goes to take the paintingagain, Zhuangzi makes a quick drawing in front of the king and then a lifelikecrab stands vividly on the paper in a moment, at which the king feelsmarvelous. Through effort of ten years, Zhuangzi finally created anunprecedented miracle. The case is similar to Liu Youju's. Without persistentdiligence, he wouldn't have created such amazing illusionistic paintings."

According to Christina Muccini, without studying Chinese culture andhistory, it would be impossible to understand Chinese art. Taoism, founded byLaozi, focuses on "emptiness," that is, removing the old beforefinding the new. In her opinion, through Liu Youju's illusionistic paintings,those traditional paintings that have lasted several thousand years are emptiedlike "old pots" and then filled with fresh and alive character of thetimes. "The Europeans also need reflection. We can't always be indulged inthe European Renaissance. Innovation is essential in every era," she said.

Jadominick Seminlalo said: "I've visited museums and art galleries inChina twice. As for Chinese paintings where ancient drawing techniques areused, I think they lack a sort of vitality. Liu Youju's works, however, arefull of a vital force expressing the nature of the modern world of art."

At the end of the seminar, Dominick Vezzano said: "I have witnessedthe history of the Florence Academy of Fine Arts. Over several hundred yearssince the European Renaissance, only four masters of art in Europe had heldindividual works seminars at the headquarters of the Florence Academy of FineArts. Liu Youju is the fifth and only living one."

Liu Youju said: "I dreamed of holding an individual works seminar atthe top university of fine arts. Now my dream has come true. In this unparalleledpalace of art with such a great history, I am filled with reverence and awe,always considering myself as a pupil. I hear the historical echo of theEuropean Renaissance and the footsteps of Da Vinci and Michelangelo walkingthrough the historical corridor. The European Renaissance has always led thecourse of history of human civilization."

(The author is a young artcritic.)

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