Haiwainet.cn’s Interview with Lu Xiaobo: China through the Eyes of Artists

In a recent interview with the website haiwainet.cn, Lu Xiaobo, dean of  the Academy of Arts & Design of Tsinghua University, called for international cooperation, especially in innovation. He pointed out that solidarity is crucial to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. No one can win the battle against COVID-19 alone. He firmly believes that art can serve as a bridge of communication between countries, cultures, and value systems. The following is the content of the interview.

Haiwainet.cn's Interview with Lu Xiaobo,

 Dean of the Academy of Arts & Design of Tsinghua University

This year, countless frontline healthcare workers have risked their health to fight the COVID-19 pandemic which has swept across the world. Lu Xiaobo, dean of the Academy of Arts & Design of Tsinghua University and vice chairman of the China Artists Association, has used the proceeds from the sale of his two artworks to buy medical supplies and donated these medical supplies to facilities battling COVID-19. One of the artworks, titled "Great Love Will Win", pays tribute to medical staff; the other one, named "Eagle Flying Against the Wind", pays tribute to people in other sectors who fight the virus in their own way. Lu Xiaobo said that many artists have utilized the Internet to realize their creative ideas during the pandemic, leading the revival of realism in arts. Many works not only inspire people but also reflect artists' growing attention to reality and social responsibility.

Eagle Flying Against the Wind, Lu Xiaobo, 2020

Teaching is my top priority

Lu Xiaobo, dean of the Academy of Arts & Design of Tsinghua University, vice chairman of the China Artists Association and director of the Design Education Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Education, has been teaching for nearly 40 years. Talking about his multiple capacities, Lu Xiaobo said that he was first and foremost an educator in the field of arts and design. He has attached great importance to teaching undergraduates, postgraduates, and doctoral candidates personally. Nearly one hundred students of his have obtained master's or doctoral degrees. In his capacity as dean of the Academy of Arts & Design of Tsinghua University, he is responsible for managing the academy. As chief expert at the Design Education Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Education, he has presided over a R&D project of the Ministry of Science and Technology – Design and Application of Creative and Intelligent Products with Elements of Chinese Culture, and served as the editor-in-chief of Encyclopedia of China (3rd Edition): Design Volume. He has also taken charge of many art projects of the Ministry of Culture, contributed to the development of art disciplines, and grasp the direction of talent training and research in the field of arts and design.

On the front of artist training, Lu Xiaobo said that we are in an era of great changes and rapid development of science and technology has brought tremendous changes to the society. "In the past, we have emphasized too much on the transfer of knowledge. In the age of knowledge explosion, it is more important to practice Tsinghua University's "three in one" talent development model - value shaping, capability building, and knowledge transfer," said Lu. He explained that value shaping focuses on cultivation of moral virtues and capability building is about the development and application of analysis and problem-solving skills. He also emphasizes scientific ways of thinking, humanistic education, academic vision, and ability to acquire knowledge.

Lu Xiaobo has put a lot of energy into teaching, management of the academy, and performance of duties in his capacity as the vice chairman of the China Artists Association. He said, "The China Artists Association has set up such a position to serve the country and the people and to unite designers. I am honored to be involved as a representative of designers." He said that as a member of the China Artists Association, he would faithfully perform his duties, integrate resources for major national design projects and work improve the quality of life and consumer culture of Chinese people through the popularization of art education.

Great Love Will Win, Lu Xiaobo, 2020

Solve problems through collaboration and innovation

In 2002, he became the deputy dean of the Academy of Arts & Design of Tsinghua University. Later, he was promoted and became the dean of the academy. Lu has done a lot of work for the development of the academy. As a world-class university, Tsinghua University shoulders the mission of cultivating world-class talent. The Academy of Arts & Design undertakes the important task of cultivating leading art talent. Lu Xiaobo believes that, to cultivate world-class innovative talent, we must have a global perspective. The academy's talent cultivation, scientific research and social services programs must be aligned with international standards. The Academy of Arts & Design attaches great importance to the cultivation of world-class talent and has always been at the forefront of discipline development and positioning.

Lu Xiaobo said that the academy has established cooperative relations with nearly 50 colleges and universities across the world. In Europe alone, it has established close relations with 18 colleges and universities in 12 countries. He said, "We cooperate with world-class universities. Take the dual degree program launched by us in collaboration with Politecnico di Milano for example. The program allows students to obtain master's degrees in design from both universities within three years. The interdisciplinary global innovation design (GID) program is a collaborative project of the academy, the Royal College of Art and the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. The collaboration between the three institutions has been a great success. Of course, let's not forget normalized teacher and student exchange with other colleges and universities."

Talking about these international collaborations, Lu Xiaobo said, "Nowadays, international cooperation, especially in innovation, is an effective way to solve problems. Solidarity is the key to addressing the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. No country or individual can battle against COVID-19 alone." Lu firmly believes that science is a method and weapon, different countries have different cultures and values, and people in the art world can also work together to make the world a better place.

Technology means both challenges and opportunities for arts

In March this year, an exhibition at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome commemorating the 500th anniversary of the death of Raphael was halted due to the COVID-19 outbreak sweeping Italy. The pandemic has a huge impact on the entire art and design industry. Many exhibitions and auctions have been moved online. It has also affected face-to-face communication, and the Internet has become a popular communication tool for artists. Lu believes that the rapid development of technology has brought tremendous challenges and new possibilities to this industry.

Due to the pandemic, Tsinghua University's 109th anniversary celebrations were also moved online. However, the celebrations received more attention than in previous years. All courses are also carried out online as scheduled. The academy has worked hard to ensure the quality of the teaching during pandemic. Lu Xiaobo said that the effect of online teaching has exceeded expectations. Furthermore, examinations, graduation exhibitions, thesis defense, and other activities have also been moved online. The staff and students of the academy have also planned many online exhibitions and forums, starting the exploration of a paradigm that best fits this era for the integration of science and art.

Lu Xiaobo firmly believes that art and science will be further integrated in the future, and the parallel development of the two will drive the advancement of human civilization. He said, "All creative achievements must be the result of the integration of multiple disciplines, especially in the field of art and science. For example, the 5th Art and Science International Exhibition and Symposium held at National Museum of China last year is a good proof. Today, there are plentiful creations that integrate art and the Internet, big data, life sciences, and other technologies. Embracing diversity is the future of the art world." Lu believes that diversity is the source of innovation of the academy. As long as it continues to embrace diversity, the academy will have a promising future.

Lu Xiaobo also spoke highly of the China-Europe art and cultural exchange event (Pin Yi Zhong Ou) held by haiwainet.cn. He said, "In the multimedia era, art is a great form of communication. It allows us to promote our culture and values from different perspectives and angles and allows the rest of the world to see a different side of China." Lu also hopes that the website's China-Europe art and cultural exchange program can maintain its own unique perspective and quality. He said he is willing to encourage teachers and students of the academy to participate in this grand event. 

Source: haiwainet.cn

Reporter: Jin Huizi and Guo Dongyang

Editor: Zhao Ruohan

Graphic Designer: Yang Jin