NTD’s International Figure Painting Competition Returns in 2023

NTD’s International Figure Painting Competition Returns in 2023
Haiyan Kong, who won the Gold Award at NTD's Fifth International Figure Painting Competition with her work "April 25th, 1999," at the Salmagundi Club in New York on Nov. 26, 2019. (Chung I Ho/The Epoch Times)
Sophia Lam
New Tang Dynasty Television (NTD) says its International Figure Painting Competition will return to New York in November.

The mission of the competition—the sixth of its kind since the inaugural event in 2008—is to promote the pure beauty, kindness, and truth of traditional oil painting. The competition is inviting realist artists worldwide to submit figure paintings that convey traditional values and positive ideals such as beauty, compassion, and righteousness.

Professor Zhang Kunlun, the head judge of the competition, says that realist oil painting is a form of art gifted to humanity and is based on the concept of pure beauty passed down by the divine. In his view, many current artists and viewers have lost their understanding of the true beauty of art, as a result of the overall moral decline of human beings. He said the competition aims to lead people back to the divinely inspired culture and tradition.

Zhang told The Epoch TImes about the special features and artistic direction of the competition.

Professor Zhang Kunlun speaks at the opening ceremony of NTD's fifth International Figure Painting Competition. (Courtesy of Minghui.org)
Professor Zhang Kunlun speaks at the opening ceremony of NTD's fifth International Figure Painting Competition. (Courtesy of Minghui.org)
The Epoch Times: The International Figure Painting Competition has always emphasized the theme of pure truth, pure goodness, and pure beauty, and aims to lead art back to divinely inspired tradition. Is that what makes this competition so special?
Zhang Kunlun: Yes. Traditional art pursues beauty and serves to purify people’s hearts and minds and uplift their level of goodness and morality. However, as mankind has deviated in their personal pursuits, art has gone astray from the divine’s original intent and has become a means for many people to exhibit their demonic nature and a tool to poison people’s mentality.

Under such circumstances, NTD has been holding the competition based on the theme of pure truth, pure goodness, and pure beauty since 2008. It endeavors to lead art back to the right path, which offers hope for the artists, for art, and for the future of mankind.

The Epoch Times: Talking about the theme of pure truth, pure kindness, and pure beauty that the participating artists follow, could you tell us the specific effect of this theme on artistic creation?
Mr. Zhang: Painters spend their lifetime in pursuit of artistic creation. However, some modern painters, no matter how hard they work, or even hype, and no matter how exotic their works could be, are unable to give real vitality to their works, which manifests the demonic nature of human beings today. In fact, the fundamental reason is the lack of morality in human society, an issue that has rarely been exposed in history.

The artistic creation is not to show off an artist’s personal ability, nor is it merely to maintain human morality. More importantly, artistic creation is to enhance morality and glorify the divinity and the Creator, using the art gifted to man by the divine. However, due to the universal law of formation, stasis, degeneration, and destruction, the morality of human beings, including artists nowadays, has been reduced to a very low level, even to the extent of anti-divinity. Human beings are therefore in danger of being destroyed at any time. If you look at the chaos in contemporary society, anyone with a heart can see that I am definitely not sounding alarmist.

NTD’s International Figure Painting Competition has really helped artists to return to the divine tradition. In the previous competitions, some artists had returned from the deviated path to the right path of divine inspiration, practiced orthodox art, and achieved outstanding results in their artistic creations through their participation in the contest. In fact, the creation of almost every prize-winning work in the previous competitions was a painful but blissful journey, during which the artists discarded their egoistic and selfish attachments and improved their morality.

The Epoch Times: Since morality is so important in art creation, would this imply that art creation is a form of moral preaching?
Mr. Zhang: Absolutely not. In the past, artists used traditional realism techniques, their heartfelt worship of divinity, and their understanding of divine art in their artistic creations. Some true artists in history have left us artistic treasures that have become valuable in the course of our human civilization.
(NTD International Figure Painting Competition submission)
(NTD International Figure Painting Competition submission)

However, due to the gradual decline of human morality, people today hardly recognize the true meaning of those works to our humanity. Some people measure them with a monetary price tag, and many even treat them as taboo and cast them out as moral preaching. In fact, the phrase “moral preaching” is a prejudice against morality and it reveals that people now despise morality and indulge in demonic nature.

I’d also like to mention that, in China, the Chinese Communist Party has always used art as a tool to serve its political purposes. Hence, the things it produces are superficial in both meaning and form, thus dampening people’s interest in art.

In fact, true art is a divinely inspired culture that transcends politics. Its profound connotation, subtle expression, and unique artistic language can unconsciously purify people’s spirits and enhance their morality, which no moral preaching can achieve.

The Epoch Times: For artists in general, they may have mastered the basic skills of realism, but it takes more than time for them to come up with great works. Is that right?
Mr. Zhang: Yes. Many artists, in their lifetime, are not able to create a single piece of work that they are satisfied with or is recognized by people. They don’t lack techniques. The problem is that they are contained by their own moral realm thus lacking expression. Hence, their works carry no meaning. This is not a problem of one particular artist but a common issue today in history.

However, an artist who is willing to participate in this competition and follow the theme of pure truth, pure kindness, and pure beauty will walk along the traditional path passed down to us by divine beings, and will be paving his or her way back to heaven.

The Epoch Times: Do artists need new works to enter the competition?
Mr. Zhang: We welcome artists to create new works in accordance with the theme of our competition, but it is not mandatory, which we have stated in the rules and regulations of the competition. Painters can bring in the works that they think best fit the purpose of the competition, regardless of the year of creation, because this competition is, by nature, a platform to showcase the talent of artists.
The competition has also set up an Outstanding Technique Award for works with high techniques, and a Profound Humanities Award for works of good creative connotations. The competition offers a platform to establish a historical position for artists at the historical return to artistic tradition. I sincerely invite artists who have similar mindsets to participate in the competition.
The Epoch Times: Do you have any expectations for the participating artists?
Mr. Zhang: Yes, I have two expectations.

Firstly, I hope all those artists who share the same values will participate in the competition and return to the path gifted to us by the divine.

As an artist who participated in a previous competition said, “As long as one participates in NTD’s International Figure Painting Competition, he/she is a winner, whether he/she wins the prize or not.”

In fact, what one wins is the opportunity to pave his/her way back to heaven.

Secondly, I hope that artists who will participate read the two articles “How Humankind Came To Be” and “Why The Creator Seeks To Save All Life” written by Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong. Both articles can dispel the confusion of artists and convey to them the immeasurable love of the Creator.
Please note that the deadline for submission of application forms is June 15.
Sherman Zhu contributed to this report.
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