Field of Dreams – A visit to Printing Studios and Experimental Art Department at CAFA (Central Academy of Fine Arts)

Printing Dept techies work on Copper engraving for Wu Y copy



My visit to CAFA was made possible by Dr Yan Feng who specializes in digital art. (Yan Feng showed his digital projection and installation work this March with IRISH WAVE 2015.) He has just returned last week from a digital art festival in Korea where he had installed a light show. Our first port of call at CAFA was the Printing Department.

At the entrance of the printing studios there were 5 or 6 old Russian printers recently made redundant (but perhaps waiting a new home…once again the internal scheming and dreaming new possibilities for them)

Display boards CAFA copy


There were display boards of white paper taped over paper giving that lovely spongy tactile sense.








The main studios housed hard shiny plates and rolls of metal printers. One printing press was 120 cm wide – which must be the largest I have seen so far. On to the next division of the main studio, students hard at work on end of year projects bent over dozens of work tables in the large open studio rooms.

Press 120 cm wide CAFA  copyStudents studio






In another room were technicians and teaching staff laboring over series of copper plates and carefully painting with chemicals. Three staff working on a Wu Yi print of a long train pulling through a landscape. They were working on the second and third plates.

Wu Yi's train ambushPrinting Dept techies work on Copper engraving for Wu Y copy





The department has a collaborative relationship with an Italian art company 2RC through which prints are exchanged, artists can work in exchange workshops. They also exchange artworks for display and sale, here you can see a print by Francis Bacon.

Francis Bacon Print







Peng JingRong also showed Yan Feng and I a collection of prints of Zhang Xiaogang “Lost Dreams” the staff have been working on for almost two years.

Gao Yang shows print collection copy









These are based on drawings Zhang Xiaogang did decades earlier from his notebooks and archives.

Zhang Xiao gangZhang Xiaogang








You can see the telltale red in this figurative work that would permeate the future signature work. What better way to revive old studies than to rework and make a set of prints. As an artist who struggles to complete a reasonable amount of work it is great to see what and how other artists address this.


The next department was the Experimental Art Department where we met artist Yuanxin Shi. He walked us through some of the displays from the departments 10 year retrospective last Autumn (2014).

Yuanxin Shi Experimental art department







Many artists such as Lv Zhi Qiang’s work have dealt with the human living environments and the materials with which we surround ourselves. And in keeping with the human trappings another artist Gao Xiang Fa had a project for 2011. He took all the contents of his small living space and shredded, chipped or pulverize it into dust seen here in the large pillar.

Gao Xiang Fa;s pillar of room contentsGao Xiang Fa process of shredding and chipping











The huge urbanisation that is taking place in China is of personal interest to me and so when I saw Wang Lei ‘s project for 2010 I was thrilled. It was a surreal suspension of a huge number of farming hand tools hovering above the soil.

Wang lei










And with that hovering I will end my post with the intention of coming back again to explore the huge number of exciting works in the experimental art field.