The predecessor of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts (GAFA) was Central South College of Fine Arts, a fine arts school established in Wuhan, Hubei Province in 1953 in response to the then national higher education plan. It represented the merger of the Central South Institute of Art and Literature in Wuhan, South China Institute of Art and Literature in Guangzhou and Guangxi Institute of Art. The first president of the College was Hu Yichuan, a famous revolutionary artist who participated in the renowned Yan'an Literature and Art Symposium in 1942, and the first vice presidents were famous oil painter Yang Qiuren, and famous painters of Chinese painting Guan Shanyue and Yang Taiyang.
In 1958, the College was moved from Wuhan to Guangzhou and renamed Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts (GAFA). In 1981, GAFA became one of the country’s first institutions authorized to confer master’s degrees; in 1987, it began to recruit international students and students from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. In 2005, it was approved as one of the first pilots in China to launch Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program. Currently GAFA is authorized to confers master’s degree in three first-level disciplines (Theories of Art Studies, Fine Arts, Design) and four majors ( Education, Art, Landscape Architecture, Cultural Heritage and Museology).
Upholding an education philosophy of “being upright and innovative with an open and inclusive mindset, an insight into the reality and an aspiration for serving the society”, GAFA has developed its own educational characteristics following over six decades of evolution. Specifically, it focuses on developing students’ innovative ability in fine arts and design to meet the needs of the era and the society, and, based on the theories of art studies and humanistic education, promotes multidisciplinary integration, enables interaction between professional practices, education and research, and actively serves the social and economic development. The motto of GAFA is thus established as “learn morality before art”.
In the new era, GAFA is determined to develop high-caliber talents and boost academic research and artistic creation at a higher starting point through new initiatives. To make this happen, it will leverage the strengths of Guangdong Province as the pioneer, pilot and experimental field of the reform and opening up policy and those of the Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) in historical, geographical, economic, cultural and intellectual resources. In this way, GAFA will better serve the social development in the new era, play an active role in implementing the national strategies like GBA development, and work towards a more promising future as driven by the country’s Belt and Road” initiative.
Enrollments: With the new campus in Guangzhou University Town, which was completed in 2004, and the old one in Changgang, GAFA occupies a total land area of 564 mu (about 376,000 square meters) with a total built-up area of 411,884 square meters. Currently, it has 12 schools which enroll a total of 5,923 undergraduates and 969 graduates, among whom, 23 are international students.
Disciplines and Majors: Six disciplines of GAFA have been rated as Key Disciplines of Guangdong Province. Among them, three are Peak-Climbing Key Disciplines, including two first-level Peak-Climbing Key Disciplines (Fine Arts, Designs Studies) and one second-level Peak-Climbing Key Discipline (Arts and Crafts), while the other three are Specialty Key Disciplines, including one first-level Specialty Key Discipline (Theories of Art Studies) and two second-level Specialty Key Disciplines (Art Theories and Criticism, Film and Digital Media). In the fourth round of the national discipline evaluation organized by the Ministry of Education in 2017, two first-tire disciplines of GAFA, i.e. Fine Arts and Designs Studies, were rated B+ and the discipline of Theories in Art Studies was rated B, topping the province in said disciplines and ranking high among its peers nationwide.
In recent years, GAFA proactively responded to the needs of national and regional socioeconomic development and pursued knowledge innovation, S&T progress and discipline development. In view of its positioning and actual conditions, GAFA has worked to further promote the integration of disciplines and majors, constantly optimize the mechanism for discipline construction and improve talent training quality. Now it offers 29 pathways in 26 majors, including Fine Arts, Painting, Sculpture, Photography, Calligraphy, Chinese Painting, Experimental Art, Art Design, Visual Communication Design, Environmental Design, Product Design, Clothing and Apparel Design, Public Art, Arts and Crafts, Digital Media Art, Art and Technology, Ceramic Art Design, Design for Theatre, Film and Television, Animation, Film and Television Photography and Production, Art Education, Clothing Design and Engineering, Industrial Design, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Art Management. Among them, five undergraduate majors (Painting, Sculpture, Visual Communication Design, Environmental Design, and Product Design) were recognized as National First-class Majors and another seven majors, Provincial First-class Majors under the country’s “Double Ten Thousand Plan”, an initiative launched by the Ministry of Education to develop the first-class undergraduate majors and revitalize the undergraduate education in China. Other highlight majors include:
- One major as national Pilot for Comprehensive Syllabus Reform, and six as provincial pilots;
- Four national and eight Provincial Characteristic majors;
- Two Provincial Key Majors; and
- Two Provincial Demonstrative Majors for Practice-oriented Talent Training.
For undergraduate majors, GAFA has gradually developed a new pattern that emphasizes the demand of the society, first-class majors, multidisciplinary integration and dynamic adjustment.
GAFA benefited greatly from a highly accomplished faculty in its nearly 70 years of development. Many renowned artists of epoch-making significance in art history once taught here, including Hu Yichuan, Yang Qiuren, Yang Taiyang, Guan Shanyue, Li Xiongcai, Wang Zhaomin, Gao Yongjian, Chi Ke, Chen Shaofeng, Yang Zhiguang, Pan He, Zheng Canxia, Liu Qimin, Chen Xiaonan, Chen Tiegen, Zhang Xinrang and others. Today, GAFA again gathers a number of well-established faculty members who have taught here for years, such as Guo Shaogang, Chen Jinzhang, Liang Shixiong, Yin Guoliang, Zheng Shuang, Liang Mingcheng, Zhang Zhi’an, Yin Dingbang, Pan Xingjian, Wang Ren, Wang Shouzhi, Yang Yao, Li Ming, Zhao Jian, Quan Sen, Wu Weiguang, Fang Chuxiong, Guo Runwen, Tong Huiming, Li Jinkun, Huang Qiming, Lin Lan, Fan Bo, Cai Yonghua, Li Qingquan, Qi Xiaochun, etc. GAFA currently has 982 faculty and staff members, including 561 full-time teachers. Among them, 77 hold senior professional titles and 176, associate senior professional titles. It brings together an outstanding collection of talents and teams, including National Huang Danian-style University Faculty Team, vice-chairman of China Artists Association, chairman and vice chairman of Guangdong Artists Association, members of the Discipline Appraisal Group of Academic Degree Committee under the State Council, talents recognized by various programs, such as the national Ten thousand Talents Program, the “Talent Program of Four Categories” of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, and the New Century Talent Support Program of the Ministry of Education, experts entitled to special government subsidies from the State Council, deputy director of the Teaching Steering Committee under the Ministry of Education, board members of China Artists Association and directors and deputy directors of its arts committees, as well as board members of various specialized art and design associations in China.
Talent training: GAFA has been proactively deepening reforms in education and teaching to improve their quality following the guiding principle of “adhering to socialist education and nurturing talents with morality”. In the evaluation of the last three sessions of Teaching Achievement Award, GAFA was awarded three first prizes and three second prizes by Guangdong Provincial Government. In recent years, GAFA students have achieved outstanding results in various important competitions and events. They have won more than 100 important art/design prizes, including Bronze Award of the 12th National Exhibition of Fine Arts, Excellence Award of the 4th National Youth Art Exhibition, Gold Awards of Art Exhibition (Chinese Painting) in Nanjing China, Art Exhibition (Oil Painting) in Nanjing China, Best Works Award of China First Illustration Art Exhibition, China Habitat Environment Award, Asian Design Award, CIDA China Interior Design Award (Academy Award), and many internationally recognized awards including Red Dot Award, iF Design Award, Braun Design Award, IDEA Award of the United States, SPAPK Award, China Red Star Design Award, Gold Award of China Universities Industrial Design Competition (CUIDC) of the Ministry of Education. In 2016, GAFA was recognized as one of the third batch of Demonstrative Education Institutions for University Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Guangdong Province. In recent years, the initial employment rate of GAFA graduates has remained above 94%, ranking high among universities in the province. Its average undergraduate salary has been ranking among top 100 in China, or top three among fine arts colleges, for five consecutive years .
Research Platforms: GAFA has set up 39 national/provincial research platforms to promote talent training and academic research, including:
- Two national platforms, i.e. Experimental Teaching Demonstration Center and Guangdong Modern Advertising Creative Center;
- Sixteen provincial research platforms, including
- four Guangdong provincial key laboratories in philosophy and social sciences: Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory for Industrial Design and Applied Research, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory for Artwork Conservation, Restoration and Materials Research, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory for Environmental Design and Social Innovation, and Key Laboratory for Preservation and Innovation of Arts and Crafts;
- Three Guangdong provincial key research bases of humanities and social sciences in universities: China Research Institute of Modern Art, Lingnan Art and Cultural Heritage Research Center and Visual Culture Research Center;
- Two Guangdong provincial social sciences research bases: Image and History Research Institute and Lingnan Fine Arts Education Research Institute;
- The Pearl River Delta Brand Strategy Collaborative Innovation Center, a provincial collaborative innovation center: ;
- Lingnan Art Heritage Collaborative Innovation Research Center, a provincial intangible cultural heritage research base:
- Creative Industry Research and Development Center of Guangdong Province, a provincial research and development center: ;
- Contemporary Urban Culture and Architectural Art Innovation Research Center, a cooperation and innovation platform between Guangdong universities and their international, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan counterparts;
- Digital Imaging and Digital Industrial Engineering Research Center, a key promotion platform in Guangdong universities
- Chaozhou Wood Carving Preservation Base, a preservation base of excellent Chinese traditional cultural heritage in Guangdong universities
- GAFA South China Historical Trail Research Center, a provincial research center on South China Historical Trails: ;
- Lingnan-style Chinese Painting Experimental Teaching Center;
- One Guangzhou municipal key research base of humanities and social sciences: Lingnan Cultural Animation and Creative Research Base; and
- Thirteen other university-level platforms.
These cooperative education platforms well connect government, businesses, education, researches and users. They are playing an increasingly important role in regional cultural and industrial development.
Academic Research and Artistic Creation: GAFA faculty members have won hundreds of awards on academic research and artistic creation at provincial level or above, including Lifetime Achievement Award, Creation Award and Theoretical Review Award of China Fine Arts Awards, Gold, Silver and Bronze Award of National Exhibition of Fine Arts, Meritorious Personage Gold Award of China Design Contribution Award, First Prize of National Sports Art Exhibition, awards of China Shanghai International Arts Festival Exhibition, China Design Exhibition, Red Dot Award, Chinese Calligraphy Lanting Award, Outstanding Achievement Award of Academic Research in Higher Education of the Ministry of Education, Guangdong Provincial Philosophy and Social Science Outstanding Achievement Award, Lu Xun Literary and Arts Award (Art) of Guangdong Province. They have worked on national art projects or projects sponsored by China National Arts Fund, such as Art Creation Project of Ancient Chinese Civilization, Art Creation Project in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Founding of Communist Party of China, Major National Theme Art Creation Project on Communist Party of China and the Great Rejuvenation of the Nation, and National Art Creation Project on “The Tide of the Pearl River”. They have received grants for their researches and creation efforts from various high-level research programs, including National Social Science Fund (key projects, later stage funding project or youth project), National Science and Technology Support Program, National Social Science Fund for art (key project, general project or youth project), National Education Science Planning Project, the New Century Talent Support Program, Humanities and Social Sciences Project of the Ministry of Education.
Professional Services: GAFA has been playing an active part in national and regional economic and cultural development. Many impressive art works are created by GAFA faculty members, including Shenzhen’s city sculpture Pioneering Bull, Zhuhai’s city sculpture Zhuhai Fisherwoman, the statue of Mao Zedong in Youth on the Orange Island in Changsha, design of Guangdong Provincial Government’s gifts in the commemoration of Hong Kong and Macao’s return to the motherland, design and engineering of the Guangdong Hall of the Great Hall of the People, Xinhai Concert Hall, Guangdong Museum of Art, China Pavilion of World Expo 2005 in Japan, as well as the Urbanian Pavilion and Shanxi Pavilion of World Expo 2010 Shanghai, 52 visual designs for the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, including mascots, medals, core graphics and color systems, and the design of Guangzhou city logo, the logo of Understanding China Conference (Guangzhou), Bing Dwen Dwen, the mascot of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games, and Guangdong Public Security Hero Square.
International Exchanges: GAFA has forged close ties with more than 50 fine arts colleges from countries and regions around the globe, including the Great Britain, France, Russia, Canada, the United States, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Taiwan of China. Its sister universities include the Glasgow School of Art, I.E. Repin St.-Petersburg State Academic Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, V.I. Surikov Moscow State Academic Art Institute, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp of Belgium, Zurich University of the Arts, L’École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs - Paris, University of Toronto, Chiba University, Tokyo University of the Arts, National Taipei University of the Arts. It has been a common practice for GAFA to arrange excellent teachers and students to study, exchange or conduct academic researches in other countries or regions, set up exchange programs and cooperative training programs with overseas sister universities, launch international workshops and lectures, high-level art and design exhibitions, and high-level international academic seminars, and invite renowned overseas experts and scholars to hold lectures and academic conferences.
Following the principles of expanding opening up of higher education and improving internationalization level, GAFA exerts great efforts in education of international students and joint programs launched together with prestigious international universities. With well-established expertise and experience in art disciplines, GAFA works closely with governments at all levels in cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries, so as to enhance the international exposure of the academic outcomes and artistic works of GAFA faculty members and students, help tell China’s stories well and make China’s voices heard.
Address：257 Changgang Donglu, Haizhu District, Guangzhou, China／168 Waihuan Xilu, Higher Education Mega Center, Panyu District, Guangzhou, China