Lao Jia's Art Timeline
Editor / Yun Dongming
Lao Jia's Art Timeline
1936 1-5 years old
A stubborn child was born at the foot of the Great Wall in Jiming village, Zunhua county, Hebei province. Lao Jia had three brothers of which he was the youngest. His name, Haoyi, was chosen according to the family almanac. He also had one older and one younger sister.
Lao Jia was born in the midst of war: during his youth he raised cattle, herded sheep, begged for food, and witnessed the horror of burning, murdering, and pillaging by Japanese soldiers. His mother had some knowledge of the Chinese classics, and during the family’s escape from the city to the countryside, she would often let Lao Jia look at two painting books from her dowery, The Painting Manual of the Mustard Seed Garden and The Drunken Ink Studio. Lao Jia thus developed an interest in painting
1954 19 years old
Lao Jia was studied in the Beijing Industrial Management School.
After entering school he was not happy with his studies, preferring to go to exhibitions on the weekend or read books for free at the bookstore, finding time to copy paintings and sketch. Due to the fact that he did not like this major, Lao Jia decided to apply for a medical leave on the eve of finishing his internship and being assigned to a work unit. Met with disbelief by others, Lao Jia cancelled his Beijing hukou, left school and started studying for the art academy exams.
After returning home, Lao Jia focused on painting. His parents did not say a word about his decision, but there were considerable criticisms amongst the villagers.
1958 22 years old
Lao Jia rode a bike to Beijing to take the exams, being admitted to the department of fine art at the Beijing Normal Art Academy (renamed the Beijing Art Academy after 1960) on the merit of his pencil sketches. The school invited Central Academy of Fine Arts professors such as Ye Qianyu and Jiang Zhaohe to teach, proving to be extremely enriching to Lao Jia. His sketches were praised by Wu Guanzhong who said that“this is how drawing should be done.”
1961 25 years old
Due to the praise received by classmates and teachers in July for his gongbi graduation work Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Lao Jia was asked to stay on as a teacher at the school, serving as an assistant for professor of gongbi painting, Chen Yuandu.
Lao Jia’s“realism with political elements”period within his artistic journey started during this time.
1962 26 years old
Due to downsizing at the academy in autumn, was transferred to the Chaoyang District Cultural Center in Beijing.
1963 27 years old
Was sent to Jinzhan in the eastern Beijing suburbs on August 1st to participate in village class struggle, painting a village history entitled History of Jinzhan that was published in the Beijing periodical Branch Life.
1964 28 years old
In June, Lao Jia’s painting A Letter to Art Workers for the Masses was published in Fine Art, a magazine published by the China Artists’ Association.
History of Jinzhan was exhibited at the National Art Museum of China.
Illustrated works including the China Children’s Publishing House picture book Five Acres of Wheat and the China Youth Publishing House novel, A Tale of Enmity in Jigu Village.
Participated in the“Four Cleanups Movement”in the Tianqiao area.
1971 35 years old
“Return to Roots and Exploration”period. He started researching traditional painting and exploring the boneless technique, as well as methods in spilled ink and color.
Was invited by the Chinese Revolutionary History Museum to create a painting of Party history, including images of Party activity in Ruijin and the search of Jingang Mountain.
Was invited by the People's Fine Arts Publishing House to lead the creative team for a series of illustrations entitled The Radiant Sun.
1976 40 years old
Illustration work The Radiant Sun (Part IV) was published. Subsequently, work on The Radiant Sun (Parts V, VI) was stopped due to changes in the political climate. The four parts that were already published were edited into A New Chinese Art History: 1966-1976 (by Wang Mingxian and Yan Shan, China Youth Publishing House, 2000).
In the interim, the“Chinese painting in western drawing style ”gained in popularity while Lao Jia felt that it was a mistake, burning his own“Chinese painting in western drawing style”works after having exhibited them. He turned his interest to the painting of Bada Shanren and Xu Wei. He started studying Chinese painting theory, developing an appreciation for literati freehand painting.
1978 42 years old
Upon the recommendation of Cui Zifan, Dean of the Beijing Fine Arts Academy, was transferred to the figure painting studio to work on creative projects.
1981 45 years old
Lao Jia’s artistic creation entered into the“from complicated to simple, from weak to strong”period of metamorphosis, which can also be called the“ink period”where he mostly relied on ink. Starting with the work Bate’er, he created a series of work that established a style of painting.
1982 46 years old
Lao Jia subsequently wrote:
“Traces of Blood was a failed work, and its most salient faults were that it was scattered, messy, and full of changes but lacking comprehensiveness. The work changed my thought, and I started to engage in ambitious simplification and summarization. This was a rather long period of revolution in my use of representation and ink. The essential spirit of Chinese painting is removal of the complicated in pursuit of the simple, which is also in other words the spirit of freehand painting. It implies weakening of form and strengthening of the spirit, with spirit emitting from the brush.”
1985 49 years old
Lao Jia embarked on experimentation with abstraction, writing the following in his journal:
“I am trying to transform the structure of painting into that of writing, while nevertheless preserving the large anatomical structures of noses and apparel. The main changes with horses were separating the horse’s thigh from the body while simultaneous separating the tail.”
1986 50 years old
In June, Lao Jia went to Singapore to participate in the “Joint Evening Post News Industry Center 1986 World Chinese Calligraphy Exhibition” activity.
Completed his representative work Autumn in the Ke’erqin Grasslands (also known as Bate’er). Many years later he wrote:
“The creation of form, the search of patterns in ink and brush is completed through the practice of thousands of paintings, and is constantly informed through the reception of new feeling, establishing new methods. Bate’er is the conscious conclusion of years of work, embodying my artistic pursuits. The painting is concentrated, deep, expansive, and minimal, possessing a great sense of vitality.”
1988 52 years old
From 1988 to 1998 was Lao Jia’s “experimental color period,” creating works such Happy Grasslands with color as the principal theme.
On October 8th, Lao Jia’s work was shown in the solo exhibition, “The Painting of Jia Haoyi” at the National Art Museum of China with the support of the Beijing International Yiyuan Foundation and the Beijing Fine Arts Academy. The exhibition was met with an extremely positive public reaction, and marked a comprehensive conclusion of Lao Jia’s work ever since the “ink period.” Viewers largely approved of a group of experimental work. Works Masculine Meeting on the Grasslands, Qinghai Lake Shore, and Yansha Women were collected by the National Art Museum of China.
1990 54 years old
In April, the Tianjin People's Fine Arts Publishing House publication Winter Jasmine published an essay by Chen Si (Lang Shaojun) entitled “Exiting a Perilous Terrain: My Interpretation of Jia Haoyi’s Painting” as well as 16 paintings including Bate’er. Lang Shaojun wrote the following:
“Lao Jia first negated the‘painting from life’state.”
“Lao Jia then negated his‘illustrative habits’.”
“Lao Jia then made an extremely daring experiment in regards to the special qualities of Chinese painting: he rejects the simple exploration of thick and light ink or the weakening of thick and light ink, attempting rather to use burnt ink to represent his subject.”
“Building upon his technical mastery of the use of gradations of ink, Lao Jia has moved towards the extreme, engaging in what could be called an extremely elevated and tasteful exploration. He is not reckless, but rather in the pursuit of his aesthetic needs of force and strength.”
1993 57 years old
In February Jiangsu Illustrated published an essay by Chen Chuanxi entitled “One Brushstroke Is A Painting, One Brushstroke Is Not a Painting: On the Painting of Lao Jia (Jia Haoyi)”, also publishing several other critical essays. The author praised:
“Some people say he paints a type of spirit, a philosophy, creating a new kind of aesthetic concept to explain the sublimely deep essence of Chinese painting; I would agree with them.”
“He has created painting that has not been seen since the beginning of time.”
In September the Shenzhen publication Shekou Information News published a critical essay by Wang Luxiang entitled “Lao Jia’s Feeling.” The author wrote in the text:
“His painting is feeling. It is the feeling of a ‘abandoning form to rejoice in the shadows’.”
1994 58 years old
In July, Lao Jia went to the South Korean capital, Seoul, to attend the opening for the “Jia Haoyi Welcome Exhibition” sponsored by East Asia Daily News and the Yilian Group. Representatives from the South Korean government preformed ribbon-cutting ceremony for the exhibition, and during Lao Jia’s stay of half a month, his whereabouts and works repeatedly appeared in the media. Pastor Hong Zhengji wrote the preface for the large catalog published by the Yilian Group, stating:
“Jia Haoyi’s painting transcends East and West. He uses violent strokes, breaking the boundaries between Eastern and Western painting, using Oriental painting materials to fully reflect the expressiveness of Western art.”
In order to avoid the annoyances of society, Lao Jia rented a studio in the Bejing suburban village Dashan for three years until the completion of the Lao Jia Art Museum. During this period, the Sky and Earth Are One Series of landscape paintings, and a great number of representative works such as Mountain Shadow, Iron Wall, Towering, and Red Dawn were created during this period.
In the same year, Lao Jia’s work Grassland Son was selected for the "8th National Art Exhibition,”winning an award for outstanding work.
Lao Jia’s representative works Grassland Symphony, Group Ride (Men), and July were created.
1995 59 years old
In cooperation with the a farm in the northern Beijing suburbs, Lao Jia founded the Lao Jia Art Museum. Everything from design sketches to landscaping was completed under Lao Jia’s instruction.
In December, Lao Jia went to Singapore to attend the Tiandu Gallery’s exhibition at the Riverside Arts Center Gallery entitled “Jia Haoyi: Singapore”, publishing a catalog of the same name.
1997 61 years old
In March the Lao Jia Art Museum and Studio were completed.
On October 16th, the Lao Jia Art Museum opened to the public with the“New Works by Lao Jia”exhibition, displaying the Sky and Earth Are One Series of landscape paintings, marking departure from previous simplicity and the use of traditional Chinese brushes, using a flat brush to create compositions of expansion, receiving the support of the art world. He wrote in the preface to the exhibition:
“I view the universe as a ball of qi, using that as the starting point for my painting. I try in my landscape painting to express such a feeling; it does not simply mean the movement of energy.”
Lao Jia’s representative works Heavy Steps and Bate’er were completed.
1998 62 years old
In October, Lao Jia’s work was shown at the He Xiangning Art Museum in Shenzhen with an exhibition entitled: “Lao Jia: Feelings of the Grasslands.”
In the same year Lao Jia donated 54 works to support the relocation of his alma mater in Zunhua.
1999 63 years old
In October, Lao Jia’s work “Deep Footprints” was selected for the “9th National Art Exhibition.”
2000 64 years old
In January Lao Jia’s alma mater, Zunhua No. 1 Middle School held a grand donation ceremony, accepting the proceeds from an auction of 54 works donated by Lao Jia with the total sum amounting to 2 million RMB.
Lao Jia’s work, Men, was collected by the National Museum of China.
Lao Jia entered the fourth stage of his work: the “expansion and self-improvement” period. His representative works Load, The New Century, and 2000 were completed.
2001 65 years old
In September, Lao Jia’s work, Hulunbei’er Man was selected by an exhibition sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, the Chinese Artists Association and other work units entitled “Chinese Century, Chinese Painting Exhibition.” The exhibition carefully selected 551 works by 542 famous Chinese painters dating from 1901 to 2000. Hulunbei’er Man was collected by the National Art Museum of China.
2004 68 years old
In August, during the“Huang Binhong International Research Symposium Series Exhibition”put on by the China National Academy of Arts at the National Art Museum of China, Lao Jia won the China National Academy of Arts, "Huang Binhong Award."
Work entitled Youth Dance-steps was selected for the "10th National Art Exhibition."
In December, Lao Jia’s representative work Streaming Iron won the by the French Saumur International Horse Art Festival Special Jury Prize.
In the same year, Lao Jia’s representative works Common People, Cow Head, and Youth Dance-steps were completed. In regards to the motivation behind Common People, Lao Jia wrote the following:
“I departed from the depiction of individual characters, as well as the eight traditional methods of Chinese painting, abandoning the“one plus one equals two”equation. As society surges forth, a trend of diversification emerges, creating an overwhelming feeling. There is a direct relationship between my use dots of to show the surging crowd and the rapid social development at the time.”
2005 69 years old
In August, Lao Jia went to Singapore to attend the Yishuo Art Gallery exhibition“Ink Soul: New Works by Hao Jiayi.”
In October, Lao Jia’s work, Rider, was collected by the Palace Museum. He participated in the“Famous Artists in Contemporary Chinese Painting and Calligraphy: the 80th Anniversary of the Establishment of the National Palace Museum Exhibition.”
2010 74 years old
In July, the People's Fine Arts Publishing House published Masters of Chinese Modern Painting: Jia Haoyi, featuring 128 representative works.
2013 77 years old
In January, Lao Jia participated in the filming of the China National Art Academy Central New Film Group co- produced documentary Ages of Ink. The film selected 60 artists over 70 years old that have had outstanding achievements and contributions in the realm of art and who have made a a significant impact on artistic development of the People’s Republic.
Contest participating in "10th China Art Festival · National Excellent Art Exhibition" at the Shandong Museum of Art and winning a prize for excellent work.
In the same year, Lao Jia was appointed as a specially invited artistic advisor to the China Art Academy Art Creation Center.
2014 78 years old
In May, Lao Jia’s work Vast Grassland and Horse Lassoer were shown in the "World Ferghana Horse Association Special Conference and China Horse Culture Festival;” the exhibition was held at the Imperial Ancestral Temple.
In September, Lao Jia’s work Fast Wind was selected for the "12th National Art Exhibition."
In September, Lao Jia’s work was shown in Nepal Art Festival exhibition “Saint Park Gathering Painting Exhibition." Lao Jia and several other artists were awarded the "Ambassador of Nepal Award."
In December, the Wild Master series and four other works was shown in the “Chinese Freehand Painting: the 2014 China National Academy of Arts Exhibition.”
2015 79 years old
In July, after two years of planning and selected over one hundred works from an archive of thousands of paintings, Lao Jia held the large scale
retrospective exhibition entitled “Lao Jia at 80”in exhibition halls 1, 8 and 9 at the National Art Gallery of China, sponsored by the China National Academy of Arts, the Beijing Fine Arts Academy and other work units. The Tianjin People's Fine Arts Publishing House published Lao Jia’s Freehand Painting, an eight volume edition with selected texts.
2016 80 years old
“One within Heaven and Earth—Laojia freehand painting”exhibition hold in Art Museum Beijing fine art academy In May of 2016, Lao Jia donated 12 pieces of art work to Beijing Fine Art Academy which he worked more than 20 years. Such as " In the beginning" "The Spring" "the Flat Brush-like Steed" "Common people" "Award" .....