Chen Danqing

Chen Danqing
b. 1953, Shanghai
Oil painter
Chen’s naturalist paintings of Tibetans broke the conventions of socialist realism. Troubled by his family’s political persecution during the Cultural Revolution and denied entry to art school, Chen tried his luck in Tibet, where his future wife, the painter Huang Suning, had been posted. There, he collaborated with Nawang Choedrak to paint The Workers Weep though the Harvest is Good, 1976/9/9 (Leishui saman fengshoutian, 1976), showing Tibetans mourning the death of Mao Zedong. A masterpiece of Soviet-style socialist realism, all details and colours are worked out to convey a particular message. In 1978, after his family’s political rehabilitation, Chen was admitted as a research student to the Central Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1982. His Tibetan Series (Xizang zuhua, 1980), was to have a tremendous influence on the emerging Native Soil Painting. These works dropped the monumental size of his earlier social-realist painting in favour of the intimate style and scale of the nineteenth-century French naturalist school. They portrayed the Tibetans in a dignified, forthright way, avoiding the patronizing depictions of propaganda images.
Pilgrimage (Chaosheng) depicts Tibetans at prayer. His Khampa Men (Khampa Hanzi) show none of the usual indications of the benefits of socialism; they seem totally untouched and indifferent to it. Chen left for the United States in 1982 where he continued painting grand, transcultural themes in a realistic style. He now teaches at Qinghua University Art College, Chen Danqing studio.
See also: art academies
Abbas, Ackbar (1995). Chen Danqing: Painting after Tiananmen (exhibition catalogue). Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong.
Galikowski, Maria (1998). Art and Politics in China, 1949–1984. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 193–207.
Lü, Peng and Yi, Dan (1992). Zhongguo xiandai yishushi [A History of China Modern Art]. Changsha: Hunan meishu chubanshe, 51–7.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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