Paintings in Xinya College
An excerpt from "Art Enlightenment" by Li Mu，Professor at the Academy of Arts and Design of Tsinghua University, and teacher of the general education course "Art Enlightenment" at Xinya College
The paintings displayed here are not from the Academy of Arts and Design, but from Xinya College. They were drawn in the art class at the college and created out of the curiosity and magical minds of students from different disciplines and majors in the university.
Although most of them have never had any painting experience or skills, they were not prevented from revealing their thoughts by painting or expressing their paintings with thoughts. It is a pair of relationships in mind that are interesting, entangled, exciting and contradictory. Students will benefit from the blending process of thoughts and painting, because only when they inspire each other can the meaning of the soul and the value of the spirit be revealed.
We don't know how much nature was lost and how much sagacity survived in education before. We only know that without such a state of mind, education is empty talk. Without thoughts, painting can hardly be completed; while without painting, thoughts can hardly be expressed. Here, painting expresses curiosity and thoughts represent the questioning of curiosity, the answer to which might not be the intent of education, yet we have to ensure the existence of curiosity and desire to question. For this purpose, we provide the painting course, and for this purpose, students select this course. It's offering fuel in snowy weather rather than icing on the cake because we've been away from curiosity and questioning for too long and don't know it at all.
In fact, painting is the basic language of human beings and the common mother tongue for all of us. Unlike written language and spoken language, painting language directly points to intuition and nature. It keeps us in a state of naivete and helps us keep an eye on the world beyond knowledge and experience. Painting language, quite "inclusive" but not so "purposeful", is a unique way of education and has always been favored and cherished by almost all education systems of all mankind. It's just that most education systems ignore the continuity and non-professional nature of painting education. They think that painting education and creation are only for children and artists. Facts will prove that they are wrong.
Students studying fine arts sometimes don't read much, but those learning science and art knowledge often paint. Although we cannot made the arbitrary judgment that painting is in vain in a place where the voice of reading is not heard, it would be a matter of constant novelty if one can read while painting with sincerity. Reading means thinking, but whether thinking without curiosity or questioning can still be considered as thinking should be asked. Therefore, what the students at Xinya College do is really commendable and extraordinary today. As their teacher, I am proud of them for their paintings, and also for their desire to paint.
Here is an exhibition of students’ woodcuts
About the general education course "Art Enlightenment" at Xinya College
The usual art history and art creation courses will guide people through the past culture by learning and art by experiencing, with the former focused on theoretical research and the latter on creation practice. Either way, they don't tend to intervene in people's lives. They are merely models for life and art instead of life and art themselves. We do not live because of art, but art does exist because of us. The course "Art Enlightenment" intends to remove the barrier between art and life, and between art and the public, so that art, like sunlight, air and water, nurtures and nourishes us all in the society. The course cultivates the admiration and love for art among students, and more importantly stresses students' abilities of independent thinking and critical thinking. Students are required to start from reading and appreciating excellent works of art, so as to learn to judge, make analyses and voice doubts. Students will start by participating in it and making their own works of art, so as to feel about creativity, creation, and innovation. We study art eventually for the study of life after all. We experience entanglement through art, deal with troubles through art, and create something new through art, so as to achieve the harmony of mind and spirit.
Here, the theory of art and the practice of art make up "the life of art"!
If there is such a course which is neither on art history nor on art creation, but stimulates our eager to learn more about the history of art and our willingness to participate in art creation, it would be "Art Enlightenment".