Judging the temperature of future art by degrees: The Art Academy and Critical Practice – Fresh Visions 2013, Graduate Painting Exhibition | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2051-7041
  • E-ISSN: 2051-705X



This curatorial text, originally published in the catalogue for the group exhibition Fresh Visions 2013: From University to Universe (held in the galleries of OCT Contemporary Art Terminal in Shenzhen (OCAT Shenzhen) from 7 September to 7 November 2013), presents co-curator (with Pu Hong and Li Rongwei) Edward Sanderson�s experiences during the preparation for the show and his conclusions drawn from those experiences. Fresh Visions is an annual exhibition established by the state-run He Xiangning Art Museum in Shenzhen in 2004, and the 2013 edition marked the first time that OCAT Shenzhen (administered by the He Xiangning Art Museum) hosted the show. The exhibition features selected artworks from the Oil Painting Department degree shows of the top nine art academies of China: Central Academy of Fine Arts (Beijing), Academy of Art & Design, Tsinghua University (Beijing), China Academy of Art (Hangzhou), Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts (Chongqing), Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts (Guangzhou), Luxun Academy of Fine Arts (Shenyang), Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts (Tianjin), Hubei Academy of Fine Arts (Wuhan) and Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts (Xi'an). The author's experience of visiting the degree shows while researching for the exhibition has led him to propose that higher education in art in China (as exemplified by these academies) remains dominated by conservative and uncritical attitudes towards art creation. The level of skill on display was of a consistently high standard, but the author found the level of creativity to be lacking. The author attributes this to a lack of criticality in the practices of the artists, apparently in part due to the educational environment itself. Making an analogy to a complaint regarding restrictive systems of assessment in US MFA programmes, the author highlights the risks of a similar inflexibility in the academic systems of China, and warns of the consequences of such a situation for the art world that these graduates are entering.


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