Just ‘plein’ art

Chinese artists share perspectives during panel


Brand Echeverria

Art professor Wie Zhen discusses his ink painting that is about a variation of the Chinese story of seven artists with professors GuiSheng Wang, Zong Gu, Jiaduo Li and LInXia Jiang.

Brenda Echeverria , Arts & Rec

Five Chinese artists discussed their landscape artwork and En Plein Air paintings in a panel discussion held in Light Recital Hall Sept. 7, as part of the Annette and Dale Schuh Visiting Artist Endowment

The panel discussion followed a plein air event earlier in the day on the prairie where students and the public were invited to watch the artists paint bucolic scenes of Whitewater’s natural landscape.

“With plein air painting, you simply [paint] it on sight, and you finish it on sight by doing your best,” said LinXia Jiang, a professor at Buffalo State University. “You either do a good one, or you fail to do a good one.”

Professor and painter LinXia Jiang was the only visiting artist this year not from Beijing Normal University.

The rest of the panel featured professor Zong Gu, professor GuiSheng Wang, professor Wei Zhen and assistant professor Jiaduo Li from Beijing Normal University.

With the help of a Chinese interpreter Zong Gu, GuiSheng Wang and Jiaduo Li shared some of their artwork with the audience and described the landscape they chose to capture. 

A major theme in the discussion was nature and one’s relationship to nature.

“Every time we go out to collect nature, this helps us grow inside,” professor Zong Gu said.

He was very adamant that painting outside in nature has many benefits.

“Painting plein air is a holistic, emotional, interactive experience,” professor Gu said. “You give 100 percent and you also take in 100 percent. The whole experience is totally different from copying or emulating a photo.”

The panelists also mentioned the ideas of flexibility, balance and experience when plein air painting. They emphasized that with plein air painting you can offer more elements from nature or edit some things out.

“It can be more flexible, let’s say, than if you want to paint a historical castle because you have to be truthful since it’s a part of history,” professor LinXia Jiang said.

During the panel discussion Wei Zhen also took a moment to briefly touch upon the relationship between Chinese characters and art.

“My name contains some samples of concept, image and landscape,” Wei Zhen said.

He explained that within the character of his given name Wei were traces of ancient Chinese characters such as a mountain, an herb, a lady and a ghost.

“It is something that’s in our hearts and in our culture,” Wei Zhen said.

Professor Wei will be giving a lecture on the art of Chinese landscape painting in the Center of the Arts Sept. 10.

A full schedule of this year’s visiting artists’ remaining events can be found at uww.edu/cac/artist