His spiritual Shangri-La
Updated: 2015-01-06 08:05
By Lin Qi(China Daily)
Chinese artist Chen Ping transforms the natural landscape of his rural birthplace into a Feiwa Villa series. [Photo/China Daily]
Artist Chen Ping spent his childhood in a remote countryside. It is now his neverland where he seeks refuge from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Lin Qi reports.
Like many of his contemporaries, Chinese artist Chen Ping, 54, spent his childhood in his parents' birthplace in the remote countryside. The young Chen was sent back to Feiwa, an inconspicuous village in Hebei province, to be taken care of by relatives, because his father－a civil servant in Beijing－was too occupied with work and his mother suffered from heart disease.
Chen's earliest memories of natural landscape were not fancy, but filled with images of the infertile land and saline soil of Feiwa, where he returned during his summer and winter school vacations from Beijing, where he was born. The thatched cottages, the elm trees, the muddy depressions where thick beds of reeds flourished ... all had left indelible impressions, based on which he created the idyllic Feiwa Villa.
He revisits the motif from time to time and has enriched the presentations by adding what inspired him when traveling extensively at home and abroad over the years.
Chen, who now heads the Chinese painting department at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, has perfected the Feiwa Villa into a neverland where he seeks refuge from the urban hustle and bustle and retains inner peace. His current solo exhibition at the Yun Zhi Art Gallery in Zibo, Shandong province, offers a glimpse of that spiritual Shangri-La.
Titled Homeland Mountains in Dreams, the exhibition speaks of Chen's artistic ideal as a literati painter, who harbors strong attachments to mountains and water, according to Wang Shuhua, curator of the exhibition. Also, Chen demonstrates his development as a comprehensive, multi-oriented artist through decades of exposure to poetry, literature, painting and seal art studies.
Chinese painting was, however, not his first career choice when Chen started to learn art systematically in junior high school. Oil and gouache paintings enjoyed great popularity at the time, and Chen followed the disciplines of sketching and applying colors. Having little pocket money, he practiced on used newspapers and painted watercolors instead of using oil pigments that he couldn't afford.