Retrospective Exhibit: Emerging Chinese Artists

Jun 24—July 23, 2015

Our new retrospective exhibit showcases the work of several  young painters who are already receivingaccolades for their work in their native China. Each artist’s classical training affords the freedomto break out and develop his or her own unique style.

In the sixth century, the writer, art historian, and critic Xie He (謝赫) established his SixPrinciples of Chinese Painting, which have been integral to the practice ever since. The first criterion for a successful painting, coming above all else, is spirit resonance, or vitality, meaning apainting’s ability to translate the energy of both artist and subject. It is more important to capture the spirit of a scene than to portray it realistically. In their contemporary interpretations of Chinese painting, these six artists create works that align with both Xie He’s ancient aesthetic and today’s modern one.

Figurative painting

Yan Yi (闫谊) was born in 1985 in Xianyang, Shaanxi Province. She studied Chinese painting at the Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts under the tutelage of the renowned painter Liu Wenxi, whose portrait of Mao Zedong is featured on the Chinese national currency, the yuan. Yan’s artwork has been featured in dozens of exhibitions throughout China and abroad, and in various magazines including ArtChina and China Culture. Yan Yi uses an incredibly fine brush to paint in elaborate detail, especially visible in the intricately painted hair of her subjects and the paintings’ textural backgrounds. This process, a modern take on the traditional, precisely outlined gongbi style, takes countless hours of meticulous work. She then adds expressive touches with a modern use of color and abstracted pattern and shape. In these exquisite paintings, Yan Yi explores contemporary Chinese femininity and the question of happiness in the modern era, which has been the subject of nationwide discussion in Chinese media in the last few years.


Ink-and-wash landscape painting

While in the West, landscape painting did not emerge as its own genre until the 17th century, thelandscape painting was the preeminent visual art form of China for more than a millennium. Since the late Tang Dynasty, around the 10th century, professional painters, hermetic sages, andimperial scholar-officials alike have painted rugged landscapes in expression of a Taoist, Buddhist, and neo-Confucianist longing to find sanctuary in nature.

Shen Dawei (申大玮) studied Chinese painting at the Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts and landscapepainting at the Xi’an Academy’s graduate program. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D in theHistory of Arts and Culture at Shaanxi University. Shen is a member of the Shaanxi Artists’Association and serves on the board of the Xi’an Artists’ Association. His brush-and-ink paintingsare informed by the ancient tradition of monumental landscapes, hanging scroll paintings thatdepicted huge mountains that dwarfed any human figures, alluding to nature’s immense power.The use of a variety of distinct brushstrokes and textures demonstrates Shen’s expert skill and classical training, and his personal, dynamic painting style creates movement in the landscape.


Zhai Jianqun (翟建群) studied oil painting at the Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts, earned a master’s degree from the Kyoto City University of Fine Arts, where he studied traditional Japanese nihonga painting, and since 2013 has studied traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy at Qinghua University. He is a member of the Shaanxi Academy of Painting and the China Artists’ Association. Zhai’s colorful washes suggest the influence of his Japanese training. The abstracted pattern of his brushwork is both modern and reminiscent of the earliest, schematized Chinese landscapes.


Yang Jiahuan ( 杨 佳焕)Yang Jiahuan was born in the city of Xianyang, located in Shaanxi Province,China. In 1981, he was accepted into the arts high school attached to the Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts.Upon graduation, he matriculated to the Academy itself, where he received both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Figurative Painting. Yang is currently a graduate research advisor and assistant professor at the Academy of Fine Arts at Shaanxi Normal University. He is also a member of the Shaanxi Chapter of the National Council of Fine Artists, and a member of the China Democratic League.