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ArtChina founder Aimin is travelling through China this week, visiting art universities and studios, checking in with our artists and meeting some new talents. One of her first stops was China Academy of Arts in Hangzhou where she spent some time at  Zi Zhu Studio in the printmaking department.

Photo: China Academy of Arts

Zi Zhu Studio is dedicated to teaching and promoting the traditional woodcut technique called dou ban – the best studio for learning this technique in China. MA art students learn this technique on their three year course at the university, and one of the artists who ArtChina represents in the UK, Wang Chao, is their tutor.

Photos above: Inside of Zi Zhu Studio

For two hours, students in the class must practice calligraphy, which is the root to understanding Chinese painting and learning how to control the contour of a line while applying ink to xuan paper. It’s very different from Japan’s water-based woodcut printing table. The printing table here is designed for the purpose of producing multiple prints and, 300 years ago, these used to air dry. In the past, studying woodcut required strong physical ability and was therefore generally taken up by male students, but now the majority of students in the class are female. Zi Zhu Studio encourages students to use this traditional method of creating art to express new, contemporary ideas.

Photo: Wang Chao with a student, in front of her work

One of Wang Chao’s students is Cao Ou, who is also represented by ArtChina in the UK, so Aimin was pleased to be able to catch up with both of them on this studio visit.

Photos: Cao Ou’s older work, photographed in the studio

Image: An example of Cau Ou’s current work

Photos: Cao Ou’s studio space

Photos: Cao Ou’s studio storage and his work on the front of a book cover in the US

Photo: Cao Ou in his studio

China Academy of Arts is located on the famous West Lake, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Aimin was able to spend some time enjoying the serenity of the water and the temples and pagodas that are found in the area. West Lake has long been a source of inspiration for designers, poets and painters throughout Chinese history.

Photos above: West Lake


We have woodblock prints for sale from both Wang Chao and Cao Ou.
Please contact us for details.