Chen Danqing (born 11 August 1953, Shanghai, China) is a Chinese-American artist, writer, and art critic. He was well known for his realist paintings of Tibetans. Chen graduated from China Central Academy of Fine Arts. Because his grandfather moved to Taiwan with the Nationalist government, he also had citizenship in the Republic of China. He moved to the United States in the 1982 and became a citizen there.
Chen Danqing’s family home is Taishan, Guangdong province. He started learning oil painting in secondary school, and acquainted himself with young artists like Chen Yifei and Xia Baoyuan.
Time in China
In the 1970s, after he graduated from his secondary school at the age of 16 and was forced to go to the countryside of southern Ganzhou. Later, with the help of Chen Yifei, he moved to the suburbs of Nanjing and settled down there. During this period, his completed works include “Writing a Letter to Chairman Mao” (a painting that expresses the aspiration of youths to stay in rural area), “Tears Flooding the Autumnal Fields “, and a number of oil paintings and Lianhuanhua works on the topic of Chinese Civil War. Well known within the artistic community, his sketches were imitated by his peers and later scholars.
With the restoration of the National Higher Education Entrance Examination in 1978 after the ending of the Cultural Revolution, Chen Danqing was admitted to the oil paintings department of China Central Academy of Fine Arts as a graduate student. He stayed and taught at the school after his graduation in 1980. In the same year, his thesis work, “Tibetan Paintings”, received much wider recognition than any of his previous works, making Chen a noteworthy Chinese artist.
Moving to the U.S.
In 1982, Chen moved to New York City, United States, to be a professional painter. In the early 1980s, Chen painted in the Socialist Realist style and was at one stage described by the government as the most talented oil painter in China. Beginning with his series of paintings about Tibetans in the mid-1980s, Chen began to lose official support for his work. Chen was represented exclusively by Wally Findlay Galleries in New York, Palm Beach, Beverly Hills and Paris. Influenced by French Realist Jean-Francois Millet, his Tibetans series had a tremendous influence on the emerging Native Soil Painting movement. This new work departed from the size of his earlier Socialist Realist painting in favor of the intimate style and scale of the nineteenth-century French naturalists. He portrayed the Tibetans in a dignified, forthright way, avoiding the patronizing depictions of ethnic minorities common at the time. Chen’s later work retained the sharp, realistic qualities of the Tibetan series, and has often focused on portrayals of young women.
Returning from the U.S. to China
Chen returned to China in 2000 as a professor at Tsinghua University Academy of Fine Arts and doctoral supervisor.
In October 2004, because of dissatisfaction with enrollment system, he resigned from Tsinghua Academy.
Chen has published essays “New York Suo ji (2000)”, “Chen Music Notes (2002)”, “The Extra Material (2003)”, “Step Backwards Set (2004), “Collection of Serial on the Back (2007), “Waste Collection (2009)” on education and urban problems. Chen participated in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games opening ceremony with planning, design, and creating prose written in the book of zhang.
Description of artwork
Chen was well known for his Realist paintings and garnered critical acclaim for his portraits of Tibetans. His earliest artwork from the 1970s included sketches, and Chen learned oil painting in secondary school. In 1976, he traveled to Tibet, the place where has a significant influence to his future art developments. The trip to Tibet inspired him to make a number of paintings about the ethnic minorities of the nation (‘Tibetans paintings/series’).
In 1978, Chen Danqing was admitted to the Central Academy of Painting graduate classes. In 1980, he created a stack of seven paintings and sketches as a graduation creation in Tibet. These paintings are: “Mother and Child”, “Pilgrimage”, “One City”, “Shepherd”, “City of the Two”, “Shampoo” and “Kamba Man.” Later convention to collectively as “Tibetan paintings.”
The “Tibetan paintings,” caused a great shock in the art community. The “Tibetan paintings” continue to get attention, commentary, research, and renowned at home and abroad.
“Tibetan paintings,” are recognized as China realist paintings, distinct from the former Soviet influence. Meanwhile, the “Tibetan paintings” focus on the vision side, non-heroic, non-themed real life.
In 1995, Chen completed a set of 15 meters long and two meters high ten-linked painting “Still Life”, a contemporary installation art.
Chen Danqing returned to China in 2000 and took his students to go to the Beijing Road Village painting farmers, veterans, to underground mine workers. He always insisted on painting in a realistic style.
2010, Yang Feiyun and Chen Danqing planned two major art exhibitions – “Back to the Sketch,” and “In the Face of the Original Code”.