Show cel­e­brates An­thony Stones’ ties with China

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE | ART - By LIN QI

Feng Lili, the widow of UK-born sculp­tor An­thony Stones who died ear­lier this year at the age of 82, re­calls her hus­band once telling her that he would rather peo­ple re­mem­ber the stat­ues he made more than his own face.

Months af­ter his death in Bei­jing, an on­go­ing ret­ro­spec­tive ex­hi­bi­tion opened on Satur­day at the cap­i­tal’s Na­tional Art­Mu­seum ofChina, re­view­ing his ca­reer as a sculp­tor and painter, as well as his close con­nec­tions with China, where he lived for more than 15 years.

Ti­tled Be­tween China and West, the ex­hi­bi­tion dis­plays more than 200 sculp­tures and paint­ings. It shows the mark Stones left in con­tin­u­ing with the clas­si­cal tra­di­tions of West­ern sculp­ture, and his cre­ativ­ity in painting and set de­sign that gives view­ers a glimpse of his broad vi­sion of the art forms.

Feng do­nated a bulk of the ex­hibits to the mu­seum.

“I was with him when he worked,” Feng says. “He used var­i­ous ma­te­rial for his sculp­tures and painted with both hands whether it was oil, wa­ter­color or ink.”

His ex­pe­ri­ences re­flected in his art.

“Noth­ing can be a bet­ter mem­ory of him than this ex­hi­bi­tion,” she adds.

WuWeis­han, the mu­seum di­rec­tor, says the ex­hi­bi­tion traces two pe­ri­ods in Stones’ artis­tic de­vel­op­ment — be­fore 1984, when he first vis­ited China, and af­ter that when his ex­changes with Chi­nese art cir­cles in­creased, ben­e­fit­ing artists, es­pe­cially the coun­try’s art stu­dents.

Born in Eng­land, Stones moved to New Zealand with his par­ents when he was 18. He moved back to Bri­tain at age 49. While con­tin­u­ing to be an ac­tive artist, he presided over the So­ci­ety of Por­trait Sculp­tors in Winch­ester from 1999 to 2004. He was also a mem­ber of the Royal So­ci­ety of Arts in Lon­don.

Wu says Stones’ hu­man­is­tic ap­proach and clas­si­cal style were in­spired by an­cient Greece and Rome. His works are also highly ex­pres­sive, re­veal­ing an also in­flu­ence of French sculp­tor Au­guste Rodin and other move­ments in mod­ern sculp­ture.

Stones por­trayed fig­ures of crit­ics, ac­tors, writ­ers, sci­en­tists and philoso­phers. He also sculpted the char­ac­ters in theater plays of old masters such as Wil­liam Shake­speare.

“He paid a trib­ute to those brac­ing for pure ideals,” Wu says. “With his por­traits of or­di­nary peo­ple like la­bor­ers, in­clud­ing the many he made in China, Stones com­mu­ni­cated with the world in a peace­ful man­ner.”

Stones first came to China on an in­vi­ta­tion from New Zealand-born writer Rewi Al­ley. The visit ig­nited his in­ter­est in Chi­nese so­ci­ety. He painted a lot of so­cial scenes he sawin the streets.

He trav­eled fre­quently to China af­ter the 1990s, giv­ing lec­tures at uni­ver­si­ties across the coun­try and re­search­ing Chi­nese cul­ture.

In 2010, he col­lab­o­rated with the Shenyang Nor­mal Univer­sity, in the north­east­ern Liaon­ing prov­ince, to es­tab­lish an in­ter­na­tional sculp­ture academy named af­ter him.

He gave lessons to grad­u­ate and post­grad­u­ate stu­dents, and or­ga­nized in­ter­na­tional fo­rums.

He didn’t come to China to teach peo­ple how to re­place Eastern art with­Western art, says Feng. “He hoped his stu­dents in Shenyang would com­bine West­ern tra­di­tions of sculp­ture with Chi­nese his­tory and cul­ture, and cre­ate works of an Asian na­ture.”

Li Tong­tong, a teacher at the Stones In­ter­na­tional Sculp­ture Academy, says, “Stones of­ten said in class that Michelan­gelo is watch­ing over us. Now, I will tell my class that Stones is watch­ing us, too.”

9 am-5 pm, Mon­days closed, through Nov 6. 1Wusi Street, Dongcheng dis­trict, Bei­jing. 010-6400-1476.

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