(pen and ink for forty years)

40 years of "acceptance" and "change" of Printmaking

Generation of power


Flower Sea
Chen Chao

awaken land
Song Yuan Wen

A wide field
He Kun

40 years of reform and opening up are the 40 years of China's printmaking's transformation and initiative. In the four aspects of noumenon consciousness, aesthetic pursuit, language construction and future development, Chinese prints are moving forward along the way of original, Qingyuan, inclusive and expanding.



From the new woodcut of Lu Xun's initiative, Chinese prints have gone through three generations' efforts to form three times of printmaking, and three generations of printmakers run through the same vein.

The first generation printmaker saved the nation from extinction in the trend of the times, bringing the Chinese print into a new life. They subverted the objective reproduction with subjective performance, and changed the fate of reinvention to create new life, so that the means of technology can be sublimated into the pursuit of art, and the seeds of new print will be sown.

The second generation of printmakers inherit the past and pick up the gold from the sand. It not only sets up a formal teaching system for Chinese printmaking, but also widens the expressive space of print, deepens the individuality of woodcut prints, advocates the application of copperplate, lithograph and screen plate, extends the expressive dimension of printmaking language, and extends the contradiction between the human nature and material properties of the painter to a more profound speculative field.

As the beneficiaries of reform and opening up, the third generation printmaker has a completely different growth background with their predecessors, and is also facing great opportunities for historical development. Under the guidance of their forefathers' care, they knew that "they should also know how to change their medicines, and how to make new ones."

The time background of reform and opening to the outside world gives Chinese printmaking a chance to restart and renew it. The second generation and the third generation of engraving people seized the pulse of the times, reaffirmed the spirit of the new woodcut movement in the creative practice, made clear the creativity of the noumenon value of the art of the print art, and did not stay in the reality of the simple reappearance of life, and realized the overall sense of the development of the art of the edition with the national development of national national development.


The second generation and the third generation printmaker explore the noumenon consciousness by creation, verify the aesthetic pursuit with practice, promote language construction with learning and foster, and think about the future development.

Because of its clear ideas and clear thinking, Chinese printmaking and the interaction between the times and society are excellent. For example, the earliest sense of warmth in the reform and opening up in 1978, in Song Yuanwen's "awakening of the earth", through the natural depression to express the depression of the soul, and then the reed of the earth even fluctuating, the startled geese herald the awakening and expectation. The "spring breeze" created by Guang Jun in 1979 is the thick spring feeling experienced by artists walking through the alleys of Beijing alley: the windows of every family are open, the courtyards are bright and open, and the birds on the branches are singing and singing in the green shade. Although it is black and white woodcut, it makes people feel the colorful spring of the times. The great river Chunqiu of Shi Yi swept the dust of people's hearts with heroic spirit. "The language of Dao is in the world, and the valley of the valley is in the river and sea". The language of the carved axe chisel shows the praise of a great era.

Since 1978, third generations of printmakers and their famous works have been introduced into professional art colleges. Such as Wu Changjiang's "Tibet group painting", Xu Bing's "rice beating women", Su Xinping's "grassland theme series", Yu Chengyou's "distant view", Zhang Hongxun's "golden wind", Li Yanpeng's "cut valley", Yuan Qinglu's "rising sun" and so on. The third generation printmaker is not only the beneficiary of reform and opening up, but also the witness of the great changes of this era. Their works are not only aesthetic in form and implication, but also emotional and directed in spiritual connotation.


The reform and opening up has made Chinese prints enhance the understanding of ontological value, and directly influence and guide creative practice by renewing the concept and concept. Especially under the influence of the second generation printmaker cultivation, the third generation printmaker showed a strong development trend from quantity to quality. Their creation reflects the important influence of reform and opening to print creation in many aspects, such as theme, aesthetics, language, expression, scale and display. The theme selection is more extensive, not only adhering to the creation of realistic themes, but also giving attention to and exploring the history and the future. It not only depicts the representatives carefully, but also praises the people, not only focuses on the social hot spots, but also shows enthusiasm for ordinary life.

The wide range of subjects leads to the diversity of aesthetics. The painter expresses himself calmly, and the audience relaxes and appreciates it. The great rivers and the small bridges are of aesthetic significance.

The broad theme and aesthetic diversity decide that the language is more personal. In the face of different themes, traditional print language is obviously not enough, and new elements of language need to be extracted from contemporary culture and art. This more profound language exploration is particularly evident in the creation of third generation printmakers, such as Cai Feng's "old tree sacrifice", He Kun's "wilderness", Luo Guirong's "I and my land", Chen Chao's Huahai, Hao Ping's ancient bottle series, Zhang Yuanfan's travel notes, and so on.

The process of extracting new printmaking language elements also promotes the individuality of people. Individuality and commonality depend on each other and complement each other in the times. This coexistence is also reflected in the works of many young and middle-aged artists, such as "peach blossom vomit" of Ji Shi Cheng, Paul Liu's "NO.2 of life", Lu Zhiping's "sea", Hao Yanjie's "horse ranch storytelling", Dai Zhengsheng's "head disease doctor", Zhang Minjie's "dance on the square" and so on.


If print was once a literary weapon of daggers and guns, in today's reform and opening up, printmaking can be the flower basket of human beauty. If prints dare to challenge darkness, it should be better at singing the light. The great changes of the times not only deeply influenced art, but also profoundly human nature. In the depth of understanding and expression, several generations of artists are bold in exploration, bold in practice and fruitful in achievement.

Many of the second generation printmakers, who are both pioneers of print education, and practitioners of artistic creation and leaders of the development of printmaking, are likely to adhere to the creative spirit of new prints, explore the objective laws of printmaking, and rationalize the logical relationship between the development of Chinese contemporary prints. They played an important role in awakening the consciousness of printmaking ontology, promoting the individuality language of print and affirming the rule of artistic development.

The third generation of printmakers, faced with a promising historical opportunity, are no longer obsessed with the means of expression, but are more concerned about the real name of aesthetics. They no longer get entangled in the limitations of painting, but also pursue the individuality of performance. They do not care about the social status and the ups and downs of fame and fortune. They only care whether their own creation adheres to the purity of art.

The third generation of printmakers understand that only by insisting on the original intention of the new print movement, namely, the pursuit of artistic creativity, insisting on respect for the laws of print, insisting on a more macro stance of art, paying more attention to the times in a more objective way, approaching the times and showing the times, can we not become a passer-by in history. Prints can achieve the leap and development of history and reality, so that the seeds and seedlings of our forefathers can blossom gorgeous prints in the historical background of reform and opening up.

Reform and opening up, making Chinese prints one generation after another, efforts to become a more progressive journey. As Lu Xun, the initiator of the new woodcut movement, predicted, "all of us are constantly striving to make woodcuts move forward one by one."

(the writer is deputy director of printmaking Arts Committee of Chinese Artists Association)

(editor in chief: Lu Jing, He Yinghai)