Published: Sept. 3, 2015

It's a Fine Line Reception
Guests enjoying the reception for A New Fine Line at Metro. State Univ. at Denver’s Center for Visual Art, Aug. 27 (Photo by C.S.)

Don’t miss the fantastic exhibition, A New Fine Line, presented by the Asian Art Coordinating Council! Julie Segraves, Executive Director of AACC since 1987, and curator for this wonderful show is also a member of the Advisory Council for the Center for Asian Studies. This is a great opportunity to support Chinese Culture along the Front Range.

The exhibition is held at the Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Center for Visual Art. Nine artists from the Beijing Art Institute of Chinese Fine Arts Painting are featured: Chen Zi, Gao Qian, Hang Chunhui, Jin Sha, Lu Peng, Shang Jingkui, Zhang Jian, Zhang Qing and Zhu Wei. All of the artists were present for the reception on August 27. The exhibition is free and on-view until October 24, 2015.

It's a Fine Line Tools
Some of the tools used by the artists: powdered pigments, ink stone, ink stick, pestle and brushes. (Photo by C.S.)

There was a demonstration of gongbi – a technique that unites each of the artists in the show. Gongbi is a painstaking method with a long historic tradition. It’s often translated as “fine line” or “meticulous brush”. Because of the fine rendering and extreme detail, this technique was often applied to fans or small ornaments. It lends itself to very intimate works that invite the viewer to get up close and personal. Thanks to the thoughtful display and lighting in the gallery, visitors can really lean in to see the finest details. 

Unlike Western artists, who focus on creating shapes with color and shading, traditional Chinese painters have always relied on outlines to manifest form. In addition, Chinese painters paint the background and then the foreground leaving the most exacting details until the end. All of the works are painted (a few are digital prints) on paper or silk. Because each color has to be layered on individually, it can take months to complete one small work of art.

It's a Fine Line Salute to Masters
Some works in the series, Salute to Masters, by Jin Sha using traditional Chinese painting techniques yet inspired by Western artistic traditions. (Photo by C.S.)

These artists are reviving the gongbi technique after it nearly disappeared in the 1990s.  The technique originated in the Han dynasty (206 BCE-220CE) and flourished in the Southern Song (1127-1279 CE). It then experienced a general decline. In fact, it isn’t taught at the Beijing art institute in the school of Chinese Painting.  All of the artists in the exhibit had to go out and study the process on their own with a master painter.   

The fact that the artists address contemporary issues in their subject matter makes this technique relevant, today. The amazing variety of subjects, color palettes and styles presented by the artists is surprising. I especially enjoyed Jin Sha’s blending of East and West (see above). Meanwhile, Shang Jingkui looks inward to explore what it means to be beautiful (see below). The wide juxtapositions of old and new, East and West, male and female, reality and illusion… all collide to create a dynamic exhibition. I hope you get to enjoy this rare opportunity to experience some remarkable contemporary Asian art first-hand in Colorado.

For gallery visitor information click here, and further details about the exhibition click here.

It's a Fine Line As Beautiful as Jade Face
As Beautiful as Jade Face No. 3, by Shang Jingkui (image from

Article by Carla Stansifer, CAS Event Coordinator