An exhibition featuring Longhua Xu opened at the Story Gallery in Bentonville, Arkansas on Sunday, August 25, and the show will run through November 4, 2018. An immigrant from China and now a resident of Hot Springs, Arkansas, the artist will show paintings and sculptures inspired by life in his adopted home.
Longhua Xu’s interest in art began as a child when his older brother Binghue would take him to the park to paint landscapes. As his talents blossomed, the Chinese National Arts and Crafts Company – created after the reopening of trade relations between the United States and China – selected him, as part of an elite group, to learn more traditional Chinese art at Luo Qing in 1971. This art facility, which encompassed all of Shanghai province, was dedicated to furthering the art education of gifted students from all over China to create a new generation of professional artists following the end of the Cultural Revolution. Xu graduated from East China University of Technology with a degree in Fine Arts and went on to teach art at Shanghai University of Technology until 1989.
Xu began displaying his art nationally in 1972, with several exhibitions, including the Shanghai Art Museum. He also erected several monumental sculptures in Shanghai. Many of his works were published in nationally distributed magazines in China and presented as national gifts to foreign dignitaries. One of his sculptures was selected to be in the Complete Works of World Master Sculpture (The End of the 19th Century to Present).
In 1989, he was invited to immigrate to the U.S. with the title of “Outstanding Artist” under the “Extraordinary Ability” program. He felt that in America there would be more access to artists from all over the world. In 1992, he was commissioned to sculpt “Mother Nature” for Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs. President William J. Clinton wrote him a letter that said: “The sculpture is a beautiful addition to the Bathhouse Row and should bring enjoyment to millions of visitors for years to come.”
Longhua has created countless pieces of public art for parks, schools, and hospitals, as well as numerous pieces for private collectors. Several of his works have gone on to be designated National Treasures and cataloged in the Smithsonian Institution Catalogue of Great Public Works. Although sculpture is his passion, he loves all mediums of art. He has said, “In order to fully express one’s ideas, thoughts, and emotions, one must be proficient in all techniques of art. Since art is not separated by country or race, then it should also not be separated by technique or medium. This way, the expression of those ideas and visions are limitless.”
This philosophy is in many ways similar to that of his hero, the artist Michelangelo, who was also proficient in many techniques and mediums. Xu has dedicated his life to the philosophy, and continues to explore new avenues of expression with stone carving, relief sculpture, bronze, pottery, oil, acrylic, and even architecture.
“I began my professional art career over four decades ago; it has been the only profession I have ever known. The first decade was all about learning technique, mastering the ability to transfer what was in my mind onto the medium. The next decade that followed came immense success. I was showing at various national and international venues, and my works were being used as gifts by dignitaries. I then moved to the US in my third decade as a professional artist and quickly learned the struggles of an immigrant starting anew in a foreign country. Making a living as an artist in America is difficult and I struggled between taking care of my family and my creative needs. When I won a commission to create “Mother Nature” in Hot Springs and received a letter of recognition from President Clinton. It was an immense stepping stone for my career here in the US. In the time since, I have reached a place where I can cater mostly to my creative needs and this show is an expression of that.
“True art is made by an inspired artist and in turn inspires others. My heroes in art have always done so, either by beautifully portraying an abstract idea or turning something mundane into something beautiful. Michelangelo saw the Sistine Chapel and gave us a brief glimpse into the creation of man. Renoir envisioned a simple luncheon that forever changed the art world and solidified an entire art movement. In this show I hope to emulate what they do in my own way. In the second part of my life here in America, I have found a new home and a new life. It is a simple life in a small town but there is a beauty in it that I hope shines through in my works.”
August 26-November 4, 2018
1201 NE McCollum Drive
Or by appointment for special group showings
Cardboard Chronicles: The Biblical Art of Rudolph Bostic
November 11 — January 6, 2019
Carol Hart: Paintings
January 13 — March 17, 2019
First Fruits: A CIVA Collection
June 9 – August 4, 2019
Our Story Art Camp (ages 6-15)
July 22 – 27, 2019