Artists Historians Curators

Tan Quanshu

00 Tan Quanshu

Tan Quanshu is an outstanding creator and educator in the printmaking of contemporary China. He graduated from the High School affiliated to CAFA, and then was admitted to the Department of Printmaking at CAFA, having learned from Li Hua; he has been in a teaching post since he graduated in 1962. He served as the Director of the Department of Printmaking at CAFA, Deputy Director of Printmaking Art Committee at the China Artists Association, editorial board member of "Chinese Print" magazine, Vice Chairman and Secretary of the Chinese Printmakers Association, served as a judge of the national print exhibitions and organized the assessment work. Now Tan is a professor and doctoral tutor at CAFA.

"Mr. Li Hua commented that his artistic style was 'solemn, simple and powerful', and you can see that the works do not have a gorgeous appearance and refuse to attract sweetness. The older generation said that people who wear brown clothes are commoners, while jade is a symbol of warm and pure treasures, symbolising the pursuit of imaginative poetry, I would like to use 'dressing in brown and holding jade' as a metaphor for me, taking 'brightness but not dazzling' as the nature to pursue, and this constantly alerts me so as to prevent the distortion of the mind."

– An excerpt from "Tan Quanshu: My History of Art – Dressing in Brown and Holding Jade, Brightness but Not Dazzling"


"Tan Quanshu is not only full of intuition in artistic creation, he also has an academic attitude to art. His bearing and his broad vision helps him face artistic problems from a larger pattern, from the outside, art is able to reflect art itself. I would like to say that in the field of art education, Tan Quanshu is a rare scholar-type artist."

– An excerpt from "Su Xinping: Tan Quanshu's Art Pattern"


"In particular, Tan paid close attention to the trends in art at home and abroad, and the developmental trends in printmaking and studied the problems in a timely manner. He has published many articles and speeches on the features of printmaking, ranging from the research of techniques, forms and technologies to a discussion on artistic concepts on pertinence and timeliness. He has successively published the "New Course of Woodcuts", "Production and Appreciation of Woodcuts", "Elementary Course of the Black and White Woodcuts", "Techniques of Paintings – Woodcuts" which are very popular. In the second half of the 1980s, the radical avant-garde trend of thought was once popular in the community, but he remained sober-minded, thinking seriously on artistic innovation, rather than blindly following the fashion. He went deep into Shandong, Henan, Hebei to inspect the traditional Chinese prints and Chinese New Year Pictures, visited traditional workshops and folk artisans, experienced the cultural connotation of traditional printmaking and the characteristics of production techniques, to absorb the nourishment from the crafts which were about to disappear. He did not only use the inspiration gained from the interviews in his own creative practices but also through the courses in teaching and the lectures both inside and outside the school to transmit it to the young artists, which had a positive impact on the printmaking community."

– An excerpt from "Shao Dazhen: Honesty, Diligence and Creation – The Printmaker Tan Quanshu"

"It is necessary to learn a technology and the art at the same time, from the shallow to the depths, being the exterior and the interior for each other, in order to reflect the dialectical relationship between technology and art. This understanding gradually cleared up in the teaching practice of woodcuts by Tan Quanshu and created a teaching system, seen from the effects of teaching, it has obtained certain results, which should be affirmed."

– An excerpt from "Li Hua: Technology Serves the Art – Introduction of Tan Quanshu's Woodcut and Teaching Exploration"

Courtesy of the artist, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO