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Hu Yichuan


Hu Yichuan in 1986

Hu Yichuan is a well-known Chinese artist, art activist and art educator. As an important artist and art educator of the 20th century in China, Mr. Hu Yichuan’s life and creations are inseparable from the turbulent revolution, growth and history of China in the last century.

Hu was born in 1910 at the Wuzi House in Zhongchuan Village, Yongding County in Fujian Province. He was enrolled at Xiamen Jimei School when he came back to China from Indonesia in 1925. He was admitted to Hangzhou National Art College in 1929, and participated in the "One Eight Art Society"(CN.一八艺社), one of the earliest art revolutionary groups in China. In the summer of 1930, he responded to Lu Xun's New Woodcut Movement, and became a founder of the left-wing group “Mei Lian”. Hu went to Yan'an in 1937, and he became a teacher at the Yan'an Lu Xun College of Art, and organized the "Lu Xun College of Art Woodcut Working Group" in the rear area of the war. He was invited to the "Yan'an Art and Literature Forum" in 1942. After the People’s Republic of China was founded, Hu established the Central Academy of Fine Arts together with Xu Beihong, and became the first party committee secretary and one of the first group of professors at CAFA. In 1953, he was assigned by the Ministry of Culture to establish the Zhongnan Art Institute in southern China, and became its first director. In 1958, the institute moved to Guangzhou, and changed its name to "Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts". Hu was its first party committee secretary and director. He was elected as a committee member of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, executive member of the Council of the China Artists Association, Deputy Director of Guangdong Artists Association and committee member of the Guangdong Federation of Literary and Art Circles. He was a jury member of the World Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow, counselor of the China Artists Association, counselor of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, counselor of the Guangdong Art Institute, consultant of the academic committee of the Guangdong Museum of Art, and lifetime professor at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts.

With his great passion for art, strong humanistic sympathies, seemingly rough but vigorous art style, Hu Yichuan has created many woodcut works full of epochal characteristics and his unique style. He is no doubt one of important pioneer artists for the New Woodcut Movement in China. The woodcut work “Going to the Frontline” created in 1932 powerfully depicted the extreme realistic issues at that time, showing the national spirit and vigorous emotions of the working class and revolutionary youths running towards the front with enthusiasm before the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Professor Hu Yichuan is also an outstanding contributor to China's oil painting circle. His oil paintings, either about figures or landscapes, all reflect the beauty of broadness and honesty. His simple composition, liberal brushstrokes, distinct themes, rich and accurate color language, as well as calm and magnificent spirit, all had great impact on contemporary Chinese art history. Hu's oil paintings including Breaking of the Chains, Digging the TunnelSouth China Sea Oil Rig belong to the classics art of New China. His thoughts on art education also deeply influenced generations of artists. His excellent contributions to the fields of art activities and education have also made history.

Text and Image Courtesy of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts and CAFAM.

Edited by CAFA ART INFO.