Bright Window and Open Platform--Curator postscript of 2nd China·Guanlan International Print Biennai

Issuing time:2009-05-20 16:15Author:Li Baoquan/Zhang Yuanfan

The “First China • Guanlan International Print Biennial", held in 2007, was a great success which aroused strong repercussions both at home and abroad as well as enabling Guanlan to become a hot focus inside and outside of China. Taking advantage of this good momentum, the preparations of the 2nd Biennial have been held as planned, exactly two years later.

We have received unbelievably enthusiastic response from printmaking artists both at home and abroad since sending invitations for participation into the whole world last October. In total, we have received 2084 print works of 1604 artists from 70 countries and regions. With these inspiring figures, we can see that this Biennial has set the highest record in the history of international print exhibitions in terms of the large numbers of participating works, artists, countries and regions.

With the support of the government of Shenzhen, especially the Guanlan local government and the Chinese Artists Association, and with the cooperation of various print groups and many enthusiasts, this Biennial developed smoothly as planned and finally turned out to be the first international print Biennial worthy of its name in China. Its historic significance and value should not be underestimated.

However, compared with the long-term goal of becoming a Biennial with a matured academic concept and with corresponding international influence, the current state of progress should be seen as an initial stage needing to be developed further. It is clear that with the evolvement of the reform, China’s printmaking has also gradually emerged from the closed status. It has made a tremendous progress in the expansion of international exchanges and in the understanding of the status quo of overseas printmaking. However, our knowledge of international printmaking is still quite limited due to its dynamic and rapid development, the social and cultural differences and the absence of efficient communicating channels. Since the implementation of the reform and opening up policy Chinese contemporary printmaking has not been fully recognized by international print artists. What they know about China’s printmaking so far, to a certain extent, still lingers somewhere around the print works of the previous generation.

On the basis of this understanding and evaluation, we decided to continue to use “tolerance and openness” as the theme of the 2nd Guanlan International Print Biennial after consulting various print authorities. We intended, in the spirit of tolerance and openness and on the platform of Guanlan, to feast the eyes of the audience with the print works from different countries and regions, being reflections of different societies, cultures, as well as artistic ideas and individualities.

One of our aims is to gradually and naturally show the world the inner connection of international print art and to identify the rudiment of the world printmaking evaluation system. This is still indistinct but transcending the borderline and it is being widely acknowledged through showing the works of different social backgrounds. They differ from each other by their artistic ideas, methods and techniques, and are provided here with a platform to contrast, converse and even clash with each other. To some extent, we expect “contrast, conversation, clash” rather than acknowledgement. By introducing foreign print works, we also mean to offer Chinese print artists more opportunities to get to know foreign print artists and their works and thus to appreciate foreign artistic concepts, ways of expression as well as techniques which are still novel to us. Meanwhile, we want to make Chinese contemporary printmaking known to international print artists by exhibiting outstanding works created by Chinese artists.

In short, more efforts should be made to create more opportunities for domestic and foreign printmakers to communicate and learn from each other thus developing their work. “China • Guanlan International Print Biennial” takes the responsibility to be the most important promoter to this aim. The second Guanlan Biennial caught more world attention compared to the first one. From what has been achieved in these two biennials, we are glad to see that Guanlan, as a window of great significance, gains importance rapidly. The vision of people both inside and outside the window becomes clear and lucid. We have reason to believe that in the near future this window will give China’s printmaking the opportunity to voice its resounding opinion.

The final results of the exhibition appraisal and awards suggest that our expectations of this biennial are fulfilled. 256 works from 60 countries selected by us represent different artistic styles and convey their unique culture trait and connotation of different background. Though strikingly different in their styles, all these works send us the message that they share the pursuit of goodness, truth and beauty and that they are all concerned with peace, environment, humanity and human existence. The skills of creation vary from each other: from the ancient plain printmaking skill right up to the usage of modern technology. Therefore this exhibition is indeed a great visual feast which best represents the unique charms of contemporary printmaking. Here we would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to all the artists who make this possible and we would also like to send our congratulations to the awarded artists.

In order to ensure the fairness and academic standards of the selection and assessment of this Biennial, four overseas jury members who came from Belgium, Argentina, Japan and South Korea worked tirelessly with the jury members from China, using their own practical work experience, expansive professional horizons and rigorous work attitude, thus, making a positive contribution to this Biennial. All things being prepared, as the exhibition is unfolding, We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the jury on behalf of the curators of this Biennial.

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