Benevolence of an Artist——the 120th birthday anniversary of Zhu Lesan

  • show time:2022-08-06 to 2022-09-18
  • Organizer:中国美术学院、西泠印社、北京画院、安吉县人民政府
  • venue:Beijing Fine Art Academy
  To commemorate the 120th birthday of Zhu Lesan, China Academy of Art, Xiling Seal Art Society, Beijing Fine Art Academy and the People's Government of Anji County have jointly curated the  exhibition: “Benevolence of an artist——the 120th birthday anniversary of Zhu Lesan”.The exhibition will open on 6 August 2022 at the Art Museum of Beijing Fine Art Academy. With the cooperation of China Academy of Art,Anji Museum (Zhu Lesan Art Museum) and the families of Zhu Lesan,more than 90 pieces will be on display.This retrospective exhibition looks back on Zhu Lesan's life and his art journey from four sections:”The essence of poetry,calligraphy and painting - poetry and painting",”Feel the spirit of the natural features through the brushwork - calligraphy”,”The understanding and immense erudition - seal carving”,”Regards art as the way back home-teaching”.
  The exhibition,held at Beijing Fine Art Academy,is the first in a series of events marking the 120th birthday anniversary of Zhu Lesan.
A proficient in poetry,calligraphy,painting and seal carving
  His mentor,Wu Changshuo,was a very important figure in Zhu Lesan’s art journey.The name “Le San” came from the suggestion from Wu, which was inspired by Confucius’ phrase:”Three sources of enjoyment advantageous”.“To find enjoyment in being a kind man; to find enjoyment in painting; to find enjoyment in seal carving”.At the age of thirty-eight, Zhu Lesan moved into Wu's house and began studying with Wu for seven years.Wu praised him that he captures the spirit of Wu’s style.Zhu Lesan inherited Wu's style in four fields: poetry,calligraphy,painting and seal carving,and spent his lifetime propelling Wu’s style to a new level.
  Zhu Lesan's paintings were heavily influenced by Wu. He had a great talent in using bold brushstrokes of calligraphy in his paintings, understood the essence of traditional Wu's style, and also knew how to be creative. Zhu Lesan emphasized the poetry of painting, believing that the poem comes earlier than the painting, He always write an accompanying poem in the painting,the poem and the painting create an incredible interconnection.The bold use of ink and color,the subject which differs from traditional literati painting,have become distinctive features in Zhu Lesan's paintings.
  Zhu Lesan’s calligraphy is vigorous and forceful,with an atmosphere of liveliness.He studied extensively from regular scrip,running script,cursive script,clerical script and other styles, especially talented at seal script and oracle bone script with idiosyncratic touches.He spent the longest time studying seal script.Initially,he studied Deng Shiru and Wu Dacheng,and later followed Wu in his study of the inscriptions on stone drums, which was transformed from the Qin script and the seal script of Han dynasty’s stele,and constant innovation.When teaching at Shanghai Fine Arts School, he developed a keen interest in oracle bone script.He used the seal script to write the oracle bone script, which retains much of the sharpness of oracle bone script, and gives a heavy manner of large-seal script and the inscriptions on stone drums as well. It is a sort of recreation of the oracle bone script.
  In the four fields of poetry,calligraphy,painting and seal script,Zhu Lesan was most skilled in seal carving.On the one hand, he insisted on "finding inspiration in things other than seals", such as paleography and epigraphy,seals,dings,bronzes,bricks,potteries and stones, absorbing the essence of these and incorporating into his seal carvings.On the other hand, he believed that the characters on seals should show the aesthetic sense of calligraphy, thus he combined his calligraphic skills into seal carvings works.His works seize the subtle balance between void and solidity,give the seals an overall sense of power and deep.
  Zhu Lesan pursued the concept of erudition in traditional Chinese art,emphasizing the "intersection" of different disciplines.As he said, "(Seal carving) cannot be achieved just by 'carving' without a solid professional foundation in calligraphy.Without deep calligraphic mastery, there will be no rhythmic vitality in seal carving.Conversely,without the practical experience of seal carving, there will be no archaic manner in calligraphy and painting. These four areas can be comprehend by analogy.”
The pioneer in the field of seal carving education
  Since teaching at Shanghai Fine Arts School in 1922, Zhu Lesan has been devoted to education for over sixty years.He taught at Shanghai Fine Arts School,Shanghai Xinhua Art School and Hangzhou National Art College, where he taught a variety of courses including bird-and-flower painting,calligraphy and seal carving,ancient text,theories of painting,poetry and inscription.Along with Pan Tianshou and Wu Fuzhi, he is regarded as one of the 'three masters of traditional Chinese painting in Zhejiang'.
  Zhu Lesan made an important contribution to the establishment of the seal carving course in contemporary art schools.He was involved in drafting the syllabus for the first bachelor's degree course in calligraphy and seal carving in China,enabling this traditional art form to be practiced in modern classroom.He was committed to building a liberal academic system of arts,and  producing versatile students with the ability of speculative thinking.When he was nearly eighty, he began teaching a postgraduate course in calligraphy and seal carving at the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts, opening a new chapter of Chinese education history.
  On the second floor of the museum, we set up a special chronology of Zhu Lesan's educational career, which not only shows his significant contributions and professional articles over sixty years, but also records his artistic communications with Pan Tianshou, Huang Binhong,Wu Fuzhi, and the pieces they created together.
The benevolence of an artist,also,a doctor
  In addition to being an artist and teacher, Zhu Lesan has another special profession as a traditional Chinese doctor.He studied at Shanghai Traditional Chinese Medicine School in his youth,and served as a doctor in Chinese medicine hospital for twenty-three years.The devotion to medicine and art continued throughout his life.
  Doctors and artists have always had a lot in common, and in the case of Zhu Lesan, it all comes down to one word: "benevolence".In the field of art, Zhu Lesan has retained the traditional literati's rhythmic vitality and suasive force.He has inherited the traditional arts system including poetry, calligraphy, painting and seal carving, and has a sense of responsibility and mission to pass on the traditional culture. On the other hand, he actively explores new visual expressions   in the new historical context.In the field of education, Zhu Lesan has spent his lifetime fostering integrity.He dedicated himself completely to passing on traditional Chinese painting,calligraphy and seal carving,and constructed a humanistic system for those traditional art forms in modern art education system.As for the way he treat people, Zhu Lesan has a kind,merciful heart, his life was marked by heroic deeds.To quote “Da Yi Jing Cheng (an excellent doctor's perfect skill and absolute sincerity)”by Sun Simiao, a famous doctor during the Tang dynasty,"Above all things, show compassion and sympathy,then be determined to save lives.”The title of the exhibition, 'Benevolence of an Artist', is also derived from this.
  His mentor, Wu Changshuo, once wrote Zhu Lesan a poem: “Concerning about country,glowing with pride.Can take the pulse through learning,with good knowledge of herbs. Crane and deer leisurely along the river,enjoy the endless spring day. Like Fu Shan of the past,wish you will become all that you can become.” Fu Shan was a brilliant physician who lived during the Qing dynasty,he was well schooled in history and lore,and also skilled in calligraphy and painting, Throughout his life,Zhu Lesan has not only lived up to the expectations of his mentor,but has also continued to improve himself,ultimately leaving his own marks in the history of art.
  The exhibition continues until 18 September.
About the Artist
  Zhu Lesan (1902-1984) was born in Anji,Zhejiang.His birth name was Wenxuan.His courtesy name was Lesan and his art name was Xizhai.Lesan has been interested in traditional art since childhood. Later,he went to study under his mentor Wu Changshuo in Shanghai. He taught at Shanghai Fine Arts School,Shanghai Xinhua Art School,Changming Art School and Hangzhou National Art College.He held the positions of professor of Zhejiang Academy of Art, vice-chairman of Zhejiang Artists Association, vice-president of Xiling Seal Art Society and president of Xiling Painting and Calligraphy Institute.
  Zhu Lesan is a master of poetry, calligraphy, painting and seal carving. Inspired by the ancient seals of Qin and Han dynasties, his seal carving works refer to the ancient seal script and oracle bones script, having a virile and archaic manner.His calligraphy is greatly influenced by famous artists such as Zhong Yao,Wang Xizhi,Wang Xianzhi,Ni Zan,Huang Daozhou,and the ancient inscription of Han and Wei dynasties.His semi-cursive script is powerful and elegant.His seal script is inspired by the Chinese bronze inscriptions,which thus gives the works a distinctive personal style.Influenced by Wu Changshuo,as well as Xu Wei,Chen Chun,Shi Tao,Bada Shanren, the brushwork of his bird-and-flower painting is vigorous and bold,the color is vibrant and pure,with a sense of retro.He integrated poetry, calligraphy, painting and seal carving,inheriting and innovating Wu's style.
  Furthermore, he has published “A Collection of Zhu Lesan's calligraphy, painting and seal carving”,and etc.