The year 2022 marks the 100th birthday of the artist, art educator and CAFA professor Dai Ze. As Xu Beihong’s student, one of the early founding members of CAFA, and a representative of the second generation of oil painters in the 1920s, Dai Ze contributed greatly to Chinese art development. As a tribute to Mr. Dai’s outstanding contribution to art creation and education, CAFA Art Museum presents his solo exhibition “A Life in Pictures” from October 13 through to November 13, 2022 as one of the “Hundred Years of Glory: CAFA Masters” program. With “Learning”, “Career”, “Research”, “Affection” and “Reflection” as the key words which represent his nodes in life, the exhibition features Dai Ze’s contribution to CAFA and undertaking of art education through his oeuvre.
Exhibition View, Photo by Li Di/CAFA ART INFO
The exhibition starts with Dai Ze’s graduation certificate from the Department of Fine Arts, Normal School of the National Central University, which reveals his history as Dai went to study there in 1942, when Xu Beihong returned from Singapore to give a lecture themed on “Ficus virens and Sichuan People” at the National Central University. Inspired by Xu, Dai Ze was nurtured by Xu with skills in oil painting so that the image should be “rather dirty than clean” and from then on he became a firm supporter of Xu’s Realism painting.
Dai Ze’s graduation certificate from the Department of Fine Arts, Normal School of the National Central University, reissued in 1950Dai Ze, Playground of the National Central University, Watercolor on paper, 23×30cm, 1944Dai Ze, Portrait of Wei Qimei, Watercolor on paper, 23×12.5cm, 1943Dai Ze, Desk of the National Central University, Watercolor on paper, 12×18cm, 1944
When Xu Beihong was invited to serve as the President of the Peiping National School of Fine Arts (formerly known as the National School of Fine Arts in Peiping) in 1942, he hired dozens of professors and assistants including Dai Ze. Dai was in charge of the teaching tools and models, thus he was regarded as one of the founders of the Central Academy of Fine Arts. From 1953 through to 1954, Dai Ze used to be the backbone of the teachers for the studios offering education on watercolor paintings, drawings and oil paintings.
Dai Ze, Man’s Figure, Pencil on paper, 76×54cm, 1945Dai Ze, Beggar on the street in Beiping, Oil on canvas, 40.6×29.6cm, 1946, collected by CAFAMDai Ze, The Peasants’ Group Meeting, Oil on canvas, 130×160cm, 1949-1950
Shortly after the training class conducted by Konstantin Mefodievich Maksimov, the art field in China has experienced the nationalization of oil paintings in thoughts and practices. Dai Ze also has a few paintings on this theme. He always adheres to his original aspiration in creations although new trends of thoughts have arisen in the art world. Reflecting on his daily life, he created thousands of oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, and ink and color works. Having experienced and seen the development of Chinese art in the twentieth century, Dai Ze has conducted diversified explorations and experiments in art creations, and he has integrated the Chinese elements with Western techniques in his work during the later period of his career.
Dai Ze, The Man Who Wears a Fur Hat (draft), pencil on paper, 83×61cm, 1957, collected by CAFAMDai Ze, On the Sea, Oil on canvas, 74×93cm, 1961, collected by CAFAM
Artist Yang Feiyun once quoted Maxim Gorky that an old man was like a museum to praise Dai Ze’s art and its epochal significance. Although Dai Ze’s painting seems to be plain and simple which might be misunderstood as being obsolete and clumsy, he gradually realized that “Dai Ze’s paintings have the most fundamental core value of art as he portrays the touching affection of the human mind from beautiful things in the simplest way.”1 This is also the significance that the exhibitions intends to convey.
According to Yang Feiyun’s dictation edited and published by the Wechat account of the National Museum of China.
About the exhibition
A Life in Pictures: In Celebration of Dai Ze’s 100th Birthday
Dates: October 13-December 13, 2022
Location: CAFAM Gallery 2B
Organizers: Central Academy of Fine Arts, China Artists Association
Undertaker: CAFA CPC Publicity Department, CAFA Art Museum
Co-organizer: Guangdong Art Museum
Supporting Organizations: China Federation of Literary and Art Circles
Chief Planner: Gao Hong, Fan Di’an
Academic Director: Qiu Zhijie
Academic support: Yu Ding, Cao Qinghui
Project Planner: Qin Jianping
Exhibition Director: Zhang Zikang, Han Wenchao
Exhibition Planner: Wang Chunchen, Gao Gao
Curator: Yu Yang
Courtesy of CAFA Art Museum, abridged from the text by Yang Zhonghui, edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO