Cui Zifan

1915-2011, Shandong China

Introduction

Cui Zifan is a well-known Chinese ink painter recognized for his spontaneous style and versatility, reminiscent of Qi Baishi (the most influential ink painter in the history of Contemporary Chinese art). Lars Berglund, former curator at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm first introduced the director of Alisan Fine Arts to Cui in 1991 while the artist had a solo exhibition in Macau. Alisan Fine Arts then held a solo exhibition for Cui in 1992, for which Prof Berglund wrote an essay in the accompanying catalogue stating that Cui “has succeeded so well in cultivating his clumsiness that his style of painting has been called refined clumsiness (hou zhuo).”

From an early age Cui developed an interest in painting but never had the opportunity to formally study art. Although his family lacked the means to buy brushes, paper, and other art supplies, Cui was not deterred. He would practice his art and calligraphy on a table, substituting ink with limewash. His paintings have a natural and deliberate naïveté that make the compositions look deceptively simplistic, achieving the effect of “disciplined abandonment.”

In adulthood, Cui struggled to find time to paint due to his many public posts. It was not until 1951, under the influence of his friend and advisor Qi Baishi, that Cui carved out the time to dedicate to his craft. From 1956, Cui held several official posts, first as Secretary-General of the Beijing Academy of Chinese Painting, then as its Vice-President. He was also a council member of the Beijing Branch of the Union of Chinese Artists and Honorary President of the Research Association of Bird and Flower Painting in Beijing. In 1979 he was a consultant to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture. In 1994 the Cui Zifan Museum was established in Qingdao. His works have been exhibited in numerous countries and collected by the National Art Museum of China, Beijing; Fine Art Museum of Research Institute of Traditional Chinese Painting, Beijing; Beijing Art Academy, Beijing; Shandong Museum, Jinan; Tianjin Art Museum, Tianjin; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and other national museums in America, Canada and Sweden.


BIOGRAPHY
1915   Born in 1915 in Laiyang, Shandong Province
1935   Studied under Zhang Zi Lian, a disciple of Wu Changshuo 
1937   Participated in the resistance army against the Japanese Empire 
1951   Appointed to various government posts, and unable to fully devote himself to painting until 1951, with the encouragement of Qi Baishi
1956   Held several official posts, first as Secretary-General of the Beijing Academy of Chinese Painting, then as its Vice-President
Council member of the Beijing Branch of the Union of Chinese Artists and Honorary President of the Research Association of Bird and Flower Painting in Beijing
1979   Consultant to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture 
1981   Received the First Prize of Beijing Art Award
1987   Shandong TV station's production of Cui Zifan in his hometown was shot
1994   The Cui Zifan Museum was established in Qingdao
2011   Cui passed away in 2011

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
1995-2001
 
  • Donation of Cui Zifan, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
1995    
  • A Selection of Paintings by Cui Zifan; A Contemporary Master of the People's Republic of China, Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, USA

1992  

1991

  • Solo Exhibition, Macau

1987  

  •  Solo Exhibition A Collection of Lars Berglund, Denmark

1986  

  • Solo Exhibition, Research Institute of Traditional Chinese Painting, Beijing, China

1985  

  • Exhibition in Shandong Province and Qingdao City
1982 
  • Beihai Park, Beijing, China

Selected Group Exhibitions
2018
2013                    
  •  Bonds of Memory: Wan Qingli’s Collection of Chinese Art Given by His Teachers and Friends, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong
2003                     
  • The Asian Collections, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia
2001                    
  • Between Two Cultures: A Selection of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Chinese Paintings from the Robert H. Ellsworth Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA
1996
  •  International Asian Art Fair, Alisan Fine Arts, The Seventh Regiment Armory, New York, USA
1993 & 97          
  • Tresors, Alisan Fine Arts, World Trade Centre, Singapore
1989-90               
  • Style and Expressionism: Modern Chinese Painting, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, USA
1987                     
  • Contemporary Chinese Paintings, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, USA
1985                     
  • Contemporary Chinese Painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia
1981       
  • Cui Zifan, Lu Guangzhao, Qin Lingyun 3-Man Group Exhibition, Changchun, Harbin, China
1977 
  • Welcoming Spring Travelling Exhibition, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Sichuan, China


SELECTED PUBLIC COLLECTIONS
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA
National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
National Museum of China, Beijing, China
Fine Art Museum of Research Institute of Traditional Chinese Painting, Beijing, China
China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China
Beijing Art Academy, Beijing, China
Tianjin Art Museum, Tianjin, China
Shangdong Museum, Jinan, China