His spiritual Shangri-La

Updated: 2015-01-06 08:05

By Lin Qi(China Daily)

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His spiritual Shangri-La

Chinese artist Chen Ping transforms the natural landscape of his rural birthplace into a Feiwa Villa series. [Photo/China Daily]

Chen had planned to make a living drawing illustrations and comic strips to support his family. He was introduced to Lin Kai, an editor with the People's Fine Arts Publishing House, who agreed to tutor him. Lin's mastery of the traditional Chinese arts inspired the teenage Chen and helped steer him to change his life's direction.

"Besides comic strips, he (Lin) also showed proficiency in different genres of Chinese painting, including mountains and water, flowers and birds, and profiles, as well as calligraphy and seal cutting," Chen says. "I realized that (being a versatile artist) was what I really wanted to do and dreamed to be."

Chen never felt content with simply repeating the old teachings of ink and water. He demonstrated his experimental spirit as early as the time of his studies at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts from 1980 to 1984. He sourced inspiration from the art of American realist artist Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009), which he fell in love with when he first chanced upon Wyeth's painting album in his teens.

In his works, Wyeth adopted a rather simple and plain color scheme to build up a gloomy atmosphere, which the 15-year-old Chen felt deeply attached to. At the time, he suffered from loneliness and depression because of his mother's death.

Chen was most fascinated by the earthy yellow tone that brings out a dismal sentiment in Wyeth's works. He tried to re-create the cleanness and pureness of Wyeth's colors, for instance, by mixing ink and water colors with glue to achieve a pigmented effect on paper. He infused the transparency and fullness of Chinese painting with glossy tones.

Plums are a dominating subject in Chen's poems and his portrayals of Feiwa Villa. He injects his elegant scholarship in the plum plant, just as he once wrote in a poem, "Dense buds and various blossoms have all become dreams, while the barren tree trunk still looks strong after years of witnessing vicissitudes."

"Chen Ping has established a distinctive art vocabulary all of his own by juggling between the 'spirit' of painting traditions and the 'form' of modern art," Fan Di'an, then director of the National Art Museum of China, commented when Chen held a one-man show at the museum in 2010.


9 am-5 pm, through Feb 28. Yun Zhi Art Gallery, 308 Linzi Dadao (road), Linzi district, Zibo, Shandong province. 138-5339-3119.