For thousands of years, artists have painted a brilliant history of human development with colors and superb techniques. Their imagination and creativity reshaped our view of life, enlightening us to rediscover the past and the ordinary beauty in everyday life.
Without the need of drawing support from other materials, pastel is one of the media that offers stable and vivid colors. It creates a a rich hue with the coverage of pastel and characteristic strokes. Pastel paintings could be deep and figurative; they could also be deliberate or abstract. It is a medium that allows rich artistic expressions.
In Chinese, pastel is translated to "fenhua", or "sefenhua, fenbihua, fencaihua". Evolved from sketch about 500 years ago, the origin of pastel can be traced back to the Paleolithic age dating back to more than 10,000 years ago when the ancient and mysterious cave paintings were made by red and yellow ochre, hematite, manganese oxide and charcoal. The bold lines and vivid colors depicted the ancient living scenes. It could be considered as the origin of pastel in a broader sense.
In the thirteenth century, the art of pastel originated in Europe with the surge of Renaissance. The development of European pastel art ushered in the pinnacle later in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. That was the time for pastel masters such as Holbein, Chardin, Millet, Degas, Cassatt, Manet, and so on. It was them who make pastel part of the mainstream art forms that cannot be neglected.
While the influence of pastel art was growing in the world, pastel was introduced to Chinese artists when Li Chaoshi returned from France in 1919. Supported by Xu Beihong, Liu Haisu, Pan Yuliang, Yan Wenliang and other artists, pastel became popular in Shanghai. However, the development of pastel was shortly setback because of the war. It was not until the end of 1970s that Yan Wenliang, Liu Ruli, Huang Yanghui, Lu Hongji and Ding Zhengxian organized the first-ever Pastel Exhibition in China in which 11 artists took part. Pastel art re-entered public spotlight and caused China Artists’ Association’s attention. After that, Ding Zhengxian, Hang Mingshi and other pastel painters took on the responsibility of promoting pastel in China.
Guided by the old generation pastel artists, through more than thirty years of unremitting efforts, pastel art in China has achieved rapid development. pastel art gradually integrated into public life: number of artists working in pastel gradually expanded; more pastel organizations were established regionally; International exchange activities happened more frequently. That is as well the historical background of the foundation of the museum of pastel art.
As the first China-based museum dedicated in pastel art, we will strengthen the cooperation with Chinese and international art institutions and artists, devoting ourselves to unite the pastel talents and resources. We strive to create a platform for international artistic exchange, and to promote the collection, display and academic research in the pastel field. It is believed that together with our efforts, pastel will flourish in China and there will be a better future for pastel art.
(No.10 Li Gong Di-Four, Suzhou Ind. Park)