He was an outstanding representative of the first generation of oil painters in New China. Xu Beihong and Wu Zuoren were his teachers. He has been teaching for 60 years and trained many fine arts elites, including Chen Danqing and others.
He was one of the few people who did not sell paintings. "I did not sell paintings. I would like to 'drink porridge' and live a long life."
He would trade his works for lost cultural relics. He built an art gallery at the north foot of the Huotai Temple in Beijing's western mountains, where he and his wife, Deng Shu, kept their life's work.
He is Hou Yimin. He is the creator of the third and fourth series of RMB figure and landscape paintings. He was the inventor of the high-temperature glaze technique, which transformed murals from indoor art to outdoor art. He was also the first vice president of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, the head of the academy's oil painting department, and the founder of the Academy's mural department. In 1986, he quit his 11 leading positions at the Central Academy of Fine Arts to concentrate on his creative work.
Now, as the honorary president of the Chinese Mural Society, Hou is 82 years old, but his creative passion is still surging. This is a simple artistic emotion: "to create as a kind of enjoyment, even if the process is difficult, if an artist does not have such a feeling, he will easily give up."
A painter with a conscience,
We should truly love our country and our people
Hou Yimin: A FEW days ago, a unit organized a visit by 120 active Party members. I asked, "If any of you have read the speech at the Yan 'a Forum on literature and Art, please raise your hand." Many of these students study art history, and there are doctoral students. I didn't expect that. I told them that today I would tell you again the main points of my speech at the Yan 'a Symposium on Literature and Art. The question of "why people", "how to", "the source of life", "popularization and improvement", and "inheritance and development"... Do you think the theoretical study of literature and art can be separated from these basic points?
Reporter: You should have a say in who you are. You have been to the grassroots and the mines many times. I heard that you are good friends with many miners.
Hou Yimin: I have been in charge of the activities of the Central Academy of Fine Arts to go to the countryside for 17 years. I go to the countryside at least once or twice a year, especially to coal mines. Once went to Datong coal mine, just to catch the underground fire, I organized the preparation of the "disaster relief letter", and carried up a miner, I gave him a sketch, like a painting on the letter. I became friends with many miners, including some of the national model workers. I regard them as my brothers, as my fellow countrymen, as people to be respected and loved, and naturally, they regard me as a good friend. Three YEARS AGO, KailUAN MINE 130TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE INTERNATIONAL PARK also asked me to design a 15-meter-high sculpture.
Reporter: You said that a painter with a conscience should love the country and love the people. Are there any problems in the field of artistic creation?
Hou Yimin: I went to the Korean battlefield as a war correspondent for People's Daily in the winter of 1950. I will not tolerate our soldiers being portrayed by some as "ignorant" and "driven to fight." The more you are exposed to war and soldiers, the more you feel that people with these "ideas" are despicable. The 183,108 volunteer army martyrs revealed by Xinhua News Agency volunteered to die for the new China! A soldier drove a military vehicle to "hide and seek" with the enemy aircraft, through the enemy aircraft fire, calm and calm, finally, the enemy plane crashed into a mountain destroyed. Over the decades, the soldiers and miners I have met have remained calm in the face of war and mining disasters and strengthened their convictions at critical moments.
"Yes" is not passive,
Look for it and do your best
Reporter: You led 38 artists to create the world's largest 200-meter-long sketch mural "Earthquake Heroic Song", which was donated to the people in the earthquake area on the fourth anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake. Why are you leading such a big art project when you are in your 80s and suffering from cancer?
Hou Yimin: This is the third time I created the earthquake. The first is for the Xingtai earthquake, the second is for the Tangshan earthquake. There is a kind of simple emotion here. Seventy-two hours after the Wenchuan earthquake, I went to the Mural Advanced research class of the Central Academy of Fine Arts to mobilize the students to draw a large picture of the disaster area, the title is called "earthquake Zhuang Song". I emphasize the word "Zhuang" to reflect the spirit of The Times, extolling the great love of the world, the virtue of the Chinese people, and their resilience in the face of disaster.
Soon, the "volunteer army" came, and my wife Deng Shu is one of them. The last night before the work was finished, I was in the hospital room until two in the morning. He was admitted to the operating room the next day. After surgery, he became critically ill with a severe infection and spent a long time in the intensive care unit.
Reporter: I HEARD THAT YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF THE MURAL DESIGN and production OF 14 STATIONS of Beijing SUBWAY LINE 6 recently.
Hou Yimin: That's right. The pattern and production of subway murals in Beijing have always been very messy, so I wrote to Comrade Liu Qi, suggesting a unified transformation, planning, and creation of content design and material selection. "Very necessary," Mr. Liu said. This important task fell to our Chinese Mural Society after bidding.
What do you think stands out when you create these works?
Hou Yimin: Many people oppose propositional creation. My feeling is that propositional creation is a kind of mobilization for artists with conscience and a sense of historical responsibility. You don't paint without passion. "Yes" does not mean passive, as long as you recognize that this is what you should do, you should use your best efforts to do it.
All my life, I have been searching for simple beauty, a great beauty in my writing. No one talks about artist reinvention anymore, and it seems old-fashioned, but it had such an impact on me. At least I have experienced the process of ideological development and transformation from never knowing ordinary people to knowing them well, from never being close to them to loving them, and from never respecting them to respecting them. Therefore, when I painted the characters and landscapes on the RMB, I painted the beauty of ordinary people and the beauty of Chinese mountains and rivers, trying to paint them as the masters of the country and the people's homeland. I emphasize the image of ordinary farmers and herdsmen. I drove thousands of miles along the border and visited the settlements of many ethnic minorities. I met Miao brothers, plain lovely, 10 people holding 10 horn "wine glasses" let you drink. Someone told me, either you don't drink, or choose the biggest drink, drink the biggest, indicates that you can't drink, the other nine don't need to drink - their respect to the guests, let you move.
History paintings have to be real,
It's not a story, it's not a joke
Reporter: You said at the launching ceremony of the "Chinese Civilization historical Theme Art Creation Project" that "historical themes are more difficult to create than realistic themes." Why is that?
Hou Yimin: The project organized 150 historical topics to be created around major historical events. The works will be displayed in the National Museum in the future. I am in awe of these themes. "History painting" is not "romance", still less "spoof", and cannot be handed over to random painting. "History painting" must be "real".
From ancient times to the Revolution of 1911, a lot of history is far away, we don't read much, but we need to keep learning. History is so complicated that it's hard for you to get it right. What's more, THE THINGS RECORDED IN HISTORY can only be verified in the Shang Dynasty, and the things before that can not be tested. What did Yao and Shun look like? Nowadays, some artists paint Yao, and Shun and wear the royal diadem, but they did not exist until the First Emperor of Qin.
We want young people to have a correct understanding of history. The basic "right and wrong" cannot be avoided. Works should reflect the view of right and wrong, and interpret something from the perspective of today, science, and history, which is indeed difficult.
The painter has to find a visual moment,
To express the theme in mind
Reporter: You said that the creation of historical themes should be organized by the rules of artistic creation. What do you mean by that?
Hou YIMIN: I THINK FOR HISTORICAL EVENTS, THE TOPIC SELECTION JUST DELIMITED a RANGE, WHAT YOU WANT TO DRAW, IT DOES NOT GIVE you TO point out.
For example, painting Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty. Did you draw the Basonmoo Gate incident? Drawing the admonition of Wei Zheng? Or a picture of Li Shimin meeting envoys from various countries? The painter's task is to find a visual moment that expresses the subject in your mind. Only when the words you have to say and the visual moment fit together, can you get the junction of the scene? Painting is different from drama. It is not coherent, but a moment. Only when scenes blend can work find its mother.
I don't think you can draw historical and cultural projects as some kind of historical diagram. Let me give you an example. Among the works expressing land reform, there have been several excellent paintings. One shows many people dividing the fields and planting signs, and another is Blood Coat by Wang Style. The former painting depicts a vivid but superficial scene of "dividing land into DIFFERENT parts", while the LATTER captures the deep meaning of land reform. The artistic appeal of the latter is stronger than that of the former. The creator should try to find the most emotional "theme" and reveal the most profound "core" in the historical event. Art often wants to express the theme of the conflict. The charm of artworks comes from the grasp of contradictions and the profound interpretation of human nature. Without contradictions, it would be impossible.