About The School of Experimental Art, CAFA

Experimentation/ Experimentalism is somewhat different from ‘testing’, that testing might be a kind of trial behavior without any previous experience while experimentation inclines to validate a certain theoretical conclusion through its behavior.

Experimentalism is the beginning of widely carried-out practice. If it means a kind of ‘avant-garde’, he is by no means a foolhardy man, but is more like a pioneer with a clear demonstration of altruistic commitment to truth and justice. The sense of adventure and the unknown nature of its result in the experimentation process will not influence the faith or will of the experimenters (those who carry out the experimentation), for they have already seen its inevitable future.

The experimental space is originally embedded in the social life associated with culture, science and art. It is the consistent mode of the human beings’ cognitive accumulation, as well as the active base on which the materialistic and spiritual culture of human beings is created; it can be regarded as a building equipped with sets of sophisticated apparatuses, in which the authorities and scholars are in charge of research; or even it can do without its special room, equipment or research grant, but be developed in the thousands of households of towns and countries; it can also be set up in the academy, which will attach great importance to academic research, and can also add to the vitality and enthusiasm to the pedagogical structure of the academy; it can also be regarded as a book, of which each volume, each collection, each piece of article, each paragraph and even each part, along with their different qualities, energies as well as artistic works will inevitably write out something new.  

The gate of the experimentation space is just open, and open to the young men who are coming forwards. This is an era rich in experimentation. This is a community that calls for ‘cultural activities constantly created and improved’ (by Lu Xun, a famous scholar in the early 20th century). It is where the history, culture and tradition are closely connected with the present existence. This is a space in which one can give full play to the youthful wisdom and creativity. The spring is coming. 

-  “Space for Experimentation” by Lu Shengzhong


History and Teaching Idea of the School of Experimental Art, CAFA

CAFA prepared the specialty of Experimental Art in 2004, and the Studio of Experimental Art was founded in 2005, and reconstructed to the Department of Experimental Art, CAFA in 2007. After years of preparation, the School of Experimental Art, CAFA was founded in September 2014. Lu Shengzhong is appointed as the first Dean of the school. The teaching ideas include academic, college and intellect. In 2011, the China Experimental Art Institutional Education Symposium and Harmonious Differences – Second Experimental Art Exhibition opened at CAFA. Following “Ten Years in One Inspection – CAFA Achievements Exhibition on the Ten-Year-Education on Experimental Art” was on view in CAFA Art Museum in 2014. 

“Experimental art” is an effective way of thinking and a working method in Western art to break through the tradition and create a new art, as an universal experience of diversified international artistic forms and innovative promotion, as has been the case with the educational system of mainstream Western contemporary art. CAFA doesn’t fully construct itself according to the Western contemporary art educational model, nor does it advocate the use of “experimental art” or “experimental” teaching to replace or negate the outstanding teaching tradition formed in the last 100 years. Therefore, “experimental art” will be the first to bear the missed content of the original disciplinary divisions, built to be a special teaching section, to develop the overall features of contemporary academic art education. Different from the artistic type of “fine arts” whose nature is determined by tools, material, technology and the style of formation, “experimental art” is a professional discipline with an artistic working method that determines the nature, namely taking the valuable themed thought as the premise of expression, to seek the appropriate artistic pattern and carrier of language, to eventually finish with the presentation of material to promote artworks to the public and society.

Team of the School of Experimental Art, CAFA

Dean: Lu Shengzhong

Deputy Dean: Wang Yuyang

Party Secretary: Wu Jian’an

Teachers and Staffs

Qiu Zhijie, Xu Bing, Zhang Guolong, Zhang Ga, Song Dong, Jia Zhangke, Lin Yilin, Jeffrey Show, Yu Fei, Qi Zhen, Zhang Yu, Wang Dongsheng, Sun Lei, Lu Zhiqiang, Chen Mingqiang, Ye Funa, Wang Hao, Yang Mo, Shi Yuanxin, Song Hongquan, Zhang Ying, Jiang Xinyu


About China Experimental Art Institutional Education Symposium
The modern Chinese art education system emerged after the May 4th New Culture Movement in 1919, and has since undergone many changes.  It had long been based on Western painting practices and the realist style, and aimed at merging “revolutionary realism with romanticism.”  Three decades after China’s economic reform, art education in the country now reflects cultural diversities with Chinese characteristics.  Chinese experimental art is now considered indispensible in the mainstream of Chinese contemporary culture and art, and receives considerable attention and recognition from the international community.  Experimental art theories and practices have become a crucial component of China’s art education, and are developing into a specialized field within art institutes.

China’s art education is currently undergoing a critical period of reforms towards a more sophisticated system.  To introduce international expertise in modern and contemporary art theories and practices, establish experimental art in the academic structure of contemporary art education, and develop a Chinese way of creating internationalized art, the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) will host the China Experimental Art Institutional Education Symposium and organize Harmonious Differences – Second Experimental Art Exhibition from April 28th to May 1st, 2011.  The events are to demonstrate the accomplishments of China’s fine art institutes in experimental art education during the last decade, and to provide a discussion platform for further development.

Attached you will find a detailed description of the proposed Symposium and Art Exhibition as well as a brief history of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA). Invitations are currently being sent to a group of leading European and American curators, critics and educators in order to make the Symposium a truly international event. Needless to say, CAFA undertakes to pay the air fare and cost of accommodation in Beijing of international participants for the duration of the symposium.

In preparation for this symposium, professors and students of the Experimental Art Department at CAFA conducted a one-year study on Current Conditions of Experimental Art Education at China’s Fine Art Institutes surveying about 20 representative institutes including national art institutes, university art colleges, and regional art institutes. Based on the survey, we will examine existing issues, share experiences, and celebrate achievements at the symposium.  The goal is to reach consensus on many academic issues in this field so that we can all move forward. In the context of global cultural diversity, we shall keep Chinese traditional culture in mind and utilize academic, institutional and theoretical beliefs to promote orderly and effective development in experimental art education.


About Harmonious Differences – Second Experimental Art Exhibition

As schools have always been where human intelligence and creativity are developed, China’s fine art education and the talents it has discovered and trained have played an important role in modern and contemporary art.  With China’s political, economic and cultural reforms and parallel global cultural dialogues, China’s contemporary experimental art has entered the global arena and receives increasing attention.  At the same time, art education has been making adjustments and improvements. To establish a balance between the westernized art theories applied in the last century and Chinese traditional art and culture, China’s contemporary art is expected to undergo a formal and qualitative transformation. Fine art institutes shall take on more comprehensive and macro responsibilities in the future development of culture and the arts.

Mainstream fine art education has long been based on Western painting practices and the realist style. During the past decade, however, the concept of “experimental art” has gradually emerged and increased in popularity among fine art institutes and has become a dynamic academic concentration. If the 1980s avant-garde artists were able  to break through institutional boundaries in order to become the elite of today, those interested in engaging in experimental art today shall study the relevant systematic methods and practices showcased at this exhibition, develop comprehensive qualities through institutionalized academic and theoretical education, and become the cutting edge artistic force in the international arena. 

Harmonious Differences – Second Experimental Art Exhibition will be held at the Central Academy of Fine Arts from April 8th, 2011 through May 2nd, 2011.  An opening ceremony of the China Experimental Art Institutional Education Symposium will be held on April 28th, 2011.  The exhibition will showcase China’s fine art institutes’ achievements in experimental art teaching, research and creation. It will demonstrate how China’s fine art education today is now opening to more diverse academic ways of thinking. 

The exhibition is divided into seven parts:

1. Normal eyes and abnormal vision

2. Material transformation and technological knowledge

3. Modern transformation of traditional language

4. Public space and social extension

5. Bodily experience and self-expression

6. Academic samplings of cultural specimens

7. Institutionalized experimental classrooms 

The first six parts present paintings, sculptures, installations, videos, performances and texts created by students of various Chinese fine art institutes during the past six years.  They illustrate how experimental art has blossomed through institutionalized education in China.  The exhibition will become a significant milestone in China’s contemporary art history.  

The last part, “Institutionalized experimental classrooms,” will select 12 outstanding experimental art curriculum and teaching programs from among various fine art institutes as case studies.  It will not only provide teaching agendas and notes for instructors, but also showcase the overall outlook of student works created during a single course or for other art projects.  Each case will be equivalent to a themed group show, linked only by the fact that this exhibition is based on the academic theme and theoretical guidance of experimental art education. 


In 2014, “Ten Years in One Inspection – CAFA Achievements Exhibition on the Ten-Year-Education on Experimental Art” was on view in CAFA Art Museum.