Building a Bridge to China with Oil Painting and Contemporary Realism

15 Jun 2011

The ACOPAL show at the National Arts Club. A showcase of oil painting and contemporary realism
The ACOPAL show featured contemporary American Realist painting.

Whenever I step inside the beautiful and historic National Arts Club, on Gramercy Park in Manhattan, I'm reminded of how long it has been a supportive home for American Realism. In May, the Club held a gorgeous showcase bringing that support to the present with a show of contemporary American Realist painting.

The exhibition was organized by the American Chinese Oil Painting Artists League, known by it’s acronym, ACOPAL. The show pulled together a lot of inspiring contemporary American artists, including Nelson Shanks, Steven Assael, Daniel Greene, Jacob Collins, Charles Pfahl, Anthony Ryder, Burton Silverman and Ron Sherr, amongst many other well known painters.

The show, which started here in the states, is actually a traveling show that is going abroad to five major Chinese museums, including the Beijing World Art Museum, a premier institution in that country. Curators from the museum traveled to New York to review the work of American painters, and when I was able to speak with them they said they were pleased at the strength and range represented in the field of contemporary figurative and realist painting.

2--The ACOPAL show at the National Arts Club. A showcase of oil painting and contemporary realism
The ACOPAL show travels to five venues in China.

The Chinese have a tradition of academic and figurative painting that is over 100 years old, and the Chinese public is enthusiastic about realism. Fine oil painting art is considered a valued cultural asset, and connoisseurship of oil paintings is a favored pastime among the Chinese.  However, many Chinese fans of traditional oil painting are only able to experience the work on the internet and in print publications--not in person.

So, the Chinese audience is eager for an opportunity to view original work from the USA that is emblematic of the best realism and oil painting techniques in the field. ACOPAL will be a cross cultural organization that seeks to showcase contemporary realism in both the United States and China, through exhibitions, teaching, and communication between the artists in both countries. 

Patricia Watwood at the ACOPAL show in front of her oil paintings.
Patricia Watwood in front of several of her oil paintings
at the ACOPAL show.
Future ACOPAL projects will bring Chinese oil painting artists to US museums, and host workshops and lectures in both countries to share our processes and varied expertise in painting. I for one am very much looking forward to it.


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mark beale wrote
on 16 Jun 2011 12:53 PM


Congratulations on being part of this. Mark.

on 2 May 2012 7:25 PM

Leah by Patricia Watwood, pencil on toned paper, 18 x 14, 2011. I have just finished two big projects