China National Academy of Painting is a public welfare-oriented institution directly administrated by the Chinese Ministry of Culture, an integration of artistic creation, research, education, collection, popularization and exchanges. Previously known as National Academy of Chinese Painting, it was established in 1981, under the care and support of the leading comrades of the State Council and CPC Central Committee. It has now enjoyed three decades of development, and has witnessed many art masters and artworks with great influence in the development of Chinese contemporary art. Its first president was Li Keran, the famous Chinese painting master. Cai Ruohong, Ye Qianyu, Huang Zhou and Li himself formed the first leadership group of the Academy. Its second and third presidents were Liu Boshu and Long Rui. The incumbent president is Yang Xiaoyang, the executive deputy president is Lu Yushun, and deputy presidents are Zhang Xiaoling, Zhang Jiangzhou, Zhao Wei, Zeng Laide and Ji Lianbin.
China National Academy of Painting consists of the Chinese Painting Institute, the Calligraphy and Seal Engraving Institute, the Oil Painting Institute, the Engraving Institute, the Sculpture Institute, the Fine Art Research Institute, the Public Art Institute and the Young Painter Institute, led by Fang Zengxian, Long Rui, Shen Peng, Zhan Jianjun, Guo Runwen, Huang Yongyu, Guang Jun, Qian Shaowu, Shao Dazhen, Yuan Yunfu and Du Dakai as the director, executive director and deputy directors. Those artists have formed a top-level leadership of masters. Currently, China National Academy of Painting boasts the best national team of fine arts. Comprised of nearly 300 professionals, it includes many famous artists and masters of the Chinese art world.
During its development over three decades, China National Academy of Painting went through three transformations. It began as the Chinese Painting Creation Team, founded under the auspices of the Chinese Ministry of Culture in 1977. In 1981, with the approval of the State Council, the National Academy of Chinese Painting was established on the basis of the Chinese Painting Creation Team, complete with the functions of art research, exhibitions, exchange, collection and training. The establishment of the National Academy of Chinese Painting was an important marker of the comprehensive revival of Chinese fine art in the new era, and was cherished by top CPC and government leaders, including Ye Jianying, Li Xiannian, Wan Li, Gu Mu, Yao Yilin and Fang Yi. Among them, Wan Li, Gu Mu, Yao Yilin and Fang Yi asked about its construction more than once and attended its founding conference. At its inception, it gathered many famous painters such as Li Keran, Cai Ruohong, Ye Qianyu, Huang Zhou, Liu Haisu, Lu Yanshao, Wu Zuoren, Li Kuchan, Zhang Ding, Hua Junwu, Jiang Zhaohe, Zhu Qizhan, Guan Shanyue, Li Xiongcai, Ya Ming, Wei Zixi, Song Wenzhi, He Haixia and Tian Shiguang for art creations. Those artists have rendered meritorious services to the country by preserving and creating many masterpieces of art. In 2006, according to the needs of a burgeoning Chinese fine art industry, the National Academy of Chinese Painting was renamed “China National Academy of Painting,” per the approval of the General Office of the State Commission Office of Public Sectors Reform (SCOPSR).
Over the past three decades, the development and construction of China National Academy of Painting has been underpinned by the efforts of its four presidents and the academic philosophies of the four successive leaderships spearheaded by them. In view of the ancient and venerated traditions of Chinese painting, President Li Keran advocated “using the utmost effort to strike within, and the utmost courage to break free.” Faced with the impact of Western art thinking, President Liu Boshu advocated “inheritance and perseverance.” Since the beginning of the new millennium, President Long Rui proposed “staying close to our roots while engaging in a thorough overhaul” in view of the westernizing trends in creative research of fine arts. After a thorough investigation into the current state of fine arts, the fourth generation of leadership led by President Yang Xiaoyang emphasized the “Chinese spirit, Chinese style and Chinese standards” and proposed the academic approach of “truthfulness as the supreme beauty.”
Thanks to the concerted efforts of our colleagues over three decades, China National Academy of Painting has become a comprehensive new institution of painting which is of full specialties and complete equipment, centered on artistic creation and research and integrating art exhibition, exchange, collection, training, promotion and publication. With its proactive academic approach and fruitful achievements in art creation and research, it is playing a leading and guiding role in the Chinese art world as a national team.