Exhibition “Reiner Kallhardt and his Students”
Art needs strong emotions.
During a meeting with Zhou Chunya and one of his friends, he introduced me as his teacher and gave him the catalogue of my exhibition.
After seeing all the paintings, the friend joked and said: „You didn`t learn too much from your teacher did you“.
When you go through the exhibition, you may have the same impression, seeing all these different artworks from my students.
What did the students learn from their teacher?
The first answer is what they didn't learn: To create works of art, like I do.
The passion of my work at the art academy, from beginningto end, was not to be a teacher but an artist who works together with young people, who also decided to become artists and to help them find their own way.
I thought about my own experiences and the first and main thing is during the process of studying art, you have to find to yourself and become a honest and self conscious person as a precondition to convert feelings and observations into original works of art.
I tried hard to find out the talent and personal background of each student so I could give them the most useful advice and help them understand, choosing one directions you must leave behind many familiar things behind.
I always explained to the students, that they had to understand their artistic work in the dialectic relationship with the environment of both, culture and history.
As a result of the collaboration with the students, we developed new strategies for studying, combining theory and practice. Instead of formal courses of study we had an orientation to student-centered matters and interests. Artistic and technical elements of the subject were always conveyed with reference to this context.
This was very briefly my concept, before I was responsible for art students from other countries at the university.
First, students came from European countries and in the last ten years of my work as a professor, they came from Japan, Korea and China. At least more than half of the students in my department came from Asia.
This new situation was a great challenge, because none of us had any experience managing the great differences between eastern and western cultures.
I had already studied the history of the Chinese Revolution and knew a little about old Chinese philosophy. But in contact with the Chinese students I realized, that I have so much more to learn.
It was an exciting time – each sides had a strong curiosity to learn from the other and often we had to laugh about funny misunderstandings. And now 30 years later, we are all reunited again in Nanjing ...