Five years ago when Shanghai Art Museum relocated from Nanjing Road to the former China Pavilion at the World Expo 2010 site in Pudong, many feared it would lose its regular visitors due to the location.
But the rechristened China Art Museum has since then become a key art venue in the country, serving as a platform for public exhibitions, academic research, public education and international art exchange.
It will celebrate its 5th anniversary on National Day tomorrow. To mark the occasion, a series of exhibitions and activities has been planned. Among them is an ongoing large-scale exhibition of landscape ink-wash paintings by Shanghai artists.
About 120 paintings created by different generations of artists — from the 1920s to the 1980s — are displayed including works of big-name artists such as Chen Peiqiu, Xiao Haichun and Lu Fusheng. The exhibition will run until October 7.
"There was very little research done on landscape paintings by Shanghai artists in the past," says Gu Cunyan, curator of the exhibition. "But this is actually the core of Shanghai culture. I am glad that finally we are presenting them to the public."
The highlight of the exhibition is the works of 95-year-old Chen, one of the masters of ink-wash painting in China.
Born in Nanyang, Henan Province, she showed an early interest in art, but unlike many of her contemporaries who gravitated toward Western realism, she became fascinated with traditional Chinese art.
Chen sees the Song Dynasty (960-1279) as the golden age of ancient Chinese art, so she engaged herself in copying the flower-and-bird paintings from this period. After decades of learning, she has developed her own signature color and free-hand style, which also references the light and shade as seen in Western impressionism.
Over the past five years, China Art Museum received 1.23 million visitors for its 180 exhibitions and 760 public art activities. Among the highlights were the exhibition on loan from Musée d'Orsay in Paris, works by Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck from the Liechtenstein royal family, and Fernando Botero's exhibition.
The museum has 27 halls stretching about 64,000 square meters.
"We have worked with many important art museums in the world. Our aim is to conduct a dialogue between the East and the West," says Li Lei, director of the museum.
Usually the number of collections is one of the criteria to evaluate an art museum. That's also the task that China Art Museum faces.