Chinese Woodcut Artists Do Their Part

Originally published in:
News Release (China Information Committee, Chungking, China) nr. 416, 15 May 1939, pp. 2648-2649

The China Information Committee was an organization within the Ministry of Information of the Guomindang. It published government propaganda, both within China and abroad. The CIC employed several Western writers and journalists, and had branch offices a.o. in New York and London.
Inserted into the text, between square brackets [], are modern pinyin transcriptions of names of people and places.

At least 18 exhibitions of woodcut reproductions were held in 16 different places, and more than 1,000 woodcuts were supplied to publications and organizations in China and abroad by the National Anti-Japanese Woodcutters' Association since its inauguration in June last year in Hankow [Hankou, at present part of Wuhan]. All the cuttings depict scenes of the war of resistance.

The Association has published 20,000 woodcut prints in postcard size and 117 volumes of pamphlets which have been distributed through several provinces.

Twenty-three months of war have spurred on woodcutting as a practical art immeasurably. The improvement in content and form of the past two years far surpasses that recorded between the introduction of the art in 1929 and the outbreak of the war. Whereas several years ago woodcut reproductions were rarely seen, they have now become one of the most popular and effective media for bringing vivid information about the war to the Chinese masses. Today, in every part of Free China, wherever there are newspapers, illustrated magazines, "mosquito" sheets or even wall papers, such reproductions are seldom lacking.

The art of woodcutting was introduced to China by way of Shanghai early in 1929, following an exhibition of foreign woodcut masterpieces by Russian, Italian and Japanese artists sponsored by the late Lu Hsun [Lu Xun], "China's Gorky." From then on until his death in 1936, Lu Hsun devoted much time to promoting this new mode of expresion. He published several booklets of woodcut drwaings reproduced from foreign originals, sponsored exhibitions, and even engaged a Japanese artist, K. Uchiyama, to teach the fundamental technique of wood-engraving to young aspirants in Shanghai.

All this, plus the mobile national woodcut exhibitions held in Tientsin [Tianjin], Peiping [Beijing], Tsinan [Jinan], Taiyuan and Canton [Guangzhou] in 1935 was instrumental in building up an interest in woodcutting as an art among China's young artists, and indeed, resulted in a mushroom growth of "woodcutters' societies" in Peiping, Canton and provincial centres. It has been estimated that the total number of woodcut artists in China stands at 1,200 today.

After the fall of Nanking [Nanjing] in December, 1937, and the transfer of the capital to Hankow, many woodcut artists began to gather there. Since they

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felt that they too should be mobilized in the nation's War of Resistance against Japanese aggression, a National Anti-Japanese Woodcut Artists Association was organized in June 1938 under the auspices of the Wuhan Woodcut Artists Association.

At the time, the association had only 97 members; now, with its headquarters in Chungking [Chongqing], the number of members has been increased to 205. Its branches may be found today in Yunnan, Hunan, Kweichow [Guizhou], Kwangsi [Guanxi], Hong Kong, Hupeh [Hubei], Chekiang [Zhejiang], Shensi [Shaanxi], Shansi [Shanxi], Kiangsu [Jiangsu] and Hopei [Hebei]. More are being organized.

Tha association held two exhibitions of woodcut drawings in Hankow with a total attendance of 10,000 persons; two in Chengtu [Chengdu] with a total attendance of over 5,700 and other exhibition at Chungking, Nanchang, Hengshan, Nanyueh, Hengyang, Sian [Xi'an], Kweilin [Guilin], Hwangchuan[Huangchuan], Huichow [Huizhou] and several villages. About 25,000 persons, it is estimated, have seen these exhibitions.

The work of this association is already known in several foreign countries. The New Masses, a well-known magazine in the United States, has published 27 woodcuts from China. One hundred woodcut drawings were recently sent to Russia for exhibition by the Sino-Soviet Cultural Association, and 40 more to Annam in French Indo-China for a similar purpose.

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