Shi Lu’s Visit to India in 1955 and the Cosmopolitanism of National Art

Speaker: Juliane Noth
Venue: Hosted via Zoom
Date & Time:
2022-3-10 | 19:00-20:30 (Shanghai)
2022-3-10 | 6:00-7:30 (New York)
2022-3-10 | 15:00-16:30 (Abu Dhabi)
2022-3-10 | 12:00-13:30 (Berlin)

The Chinese painter Shi Lu (1919–1982), a veteran of the revolution and party secretary of the Xi’an Branch of the Chinese Artists Association, visited Delhi in July 1955 as the artistic director of the Chinese pavilion at the Indian Industries Fair. During this visit, he produced several paintings and sketches that document sites of cultural interest and people from different social backgrounds in realistic portraits. But the encounter with Indian culture and with Egypt in the following year seems to have sparked in him a renewed interest in Chinese traditional painting, an interest that would lead him away from realistic modes of painting and towards more expressive and individualistic forms. The importance of these cross-cultural encounters resurfaced in 1970, when Shi Lu revised some of the paintings he had made in India and Egypt. While suffering from schizophrenic episodes, he covered the paintings with a new layer of graphic signs and texts. In my talk I will show how Shi Lu construed in these paintings a common cultural past for China and India while at the same time delineating a contemporary world of socialist cosmopolitanism in which the artist situated himself in a moment of utmost personal crisis.

Juliane Noth is Professor of East Asian Art History at Freie Universität Berlin and Research Professor at the China Institute for Visual Studies at the China Academy of Art. The focus of her research is on Chinese art and visual culture of the twentieth century. She is the author of Landschaft und Revolution: Die Malerei von Shi Lu (2009) and co-editor of four edited volumes. Her articles were published in Art History, Ars Orientalis, Trans Asia Photography Review, Xin Meishu, and Twentieth-Century China. Her second book, Transmedial Landscapes and Modern Chinese Painting, is forthcoming with Harvard Asia Center in May 2022.

Introduction by Adhira Mangalagiri, Lecturer in Comparative Literature at Queen Mary University of London; Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Global Asia at NYU Shanghai.

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