From the Transformation of Chinese Painting to the Reconstruction of Cultural Identity in Contemporary China

In 1920s, “Chinese painting” (guohua 国画) was raised as a new concept together with the awareness of nation concept in China, because of the western impact. From then on, the political force and context always influenced the Chinese painting’s transformation.

After the founding of the new nation in 1949, Chinese artists initiated a modernization movement of“Chinese painting (guohua)” in 1950s and created “ New Chinese painting”(xin guohua 新国画) concept and painting style according to the new government’s advocacy and cultural policies.  

After the Cultural Revolution, China opened the door to the world again. Gradually, it was found that Chinese painting was absent in the global art scene. It stimulated Chinese artists to start to initiate another transformation on Chinese painting for finding the approach to be involved in the international cultural dialogues. In this movement, “Guohua” and “xin guohua” were replaced by the new concept of “water and ink art” (shuimo 水墨) .

Recently, a hot debate on the contemporary shuimo is happening in the worldwide range, especially in China.

This article tries to discover the new transformation and the status of Chinese painting in both Chinese and international contexts in recent years. And also explores the relationship between the development of Shuimo and the reconstruction of the Chinese cultural identity based on the analyses of Xi Jinping’s cultural policy. 


  • East Asian Studies