Saturday, February 7, 2015

Guan Zeju (关则驹)

Guan Zeju (关则驹)


Times of great upheaval often produce great artists. This seems to be a truism for the Twentieth Century. Its two world wars created environments rich with constant reevaluations of the role and purpose of art. Powerful movements, such as Surrealism, altered the way people view the world and communicate with each other. Similar contributions to the world of art from Asia have thus far not been wholly appreciated, such as the legacy provided by China's Social Realists. One of the greatest of these Social Realists is Guan Zeju.

Guan Zeju has lived through some of the most tumultuous times in China's five thousand year history. He has become a masterful painter and a great teacher through intense discipline and effort and obviously a great deal of inherent talent. As a teenager, people called him the "painting ox" for his single-minded focus, both in Western and in traditional Chinese modes of expression. Again and again, when he is asked about his experiences, his birth in 1941 in a small village outside of Guangzhou (Canton), his formal and informal education and apprenticeships, he returns to the same word in Mandarin, meaning roughly "effort."

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