Author: CHEN DANQING 陈丹青

Size: 78.6×52.3cm

Signed and dated: Painted in 1980

Estimate: Estimate Upon Request

Final Price: RMB 140,000,000

1981 Fine Arts / P29 / January issue
1981 Art Studies / P51-55 / issue 1
1981 China Fine Arts / P26 / February issue
1981 Art series / P84
1981 Fuchunjiang Pictorial / Zhejiang People’s Fine Arts Publishing House
1987 Looking at Mainland Art Overseas / P46 / Artist Press
1988 New Realistic Painting / Lijiang Publishing House
1992 History of Modern Chinese Art (1979-1989) / P53 / Hunan Fine Arts Publish-ing House
1999 Works of 23 Avant-Garde Artists in Chinese New Art / P151 / China Esperanto Press
2001 20th century Chinese Oil Painting 3-1 / P58 / Beijing Press
2002 History of Fine Arts in New China / p169 / Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House
2004 Works of Famous Calligraphers and Painters from Jiangmen Wuyi / P108 Lingnan Art Publishing House
2005 History of Chinese Oil Painting / P245 / China Youth Publishing House
2006 History of Chinese Art in the 20th Century / P720 / Beijing University Press
2007 Retrospective Exhibition of Chen Danqing’s Tibetan Paintings and Creative Materials / P203 / Poly Art Museum
2007 Chen Danqing from "Fame" to "Fetrogression" / P21 / Sichuan Arts Publishing House
2009 Research on Chinese Oil Painting Schema / P81 / Hefei University of Tech-nology Press
2009 Inspiration Plateau Collection of Chinese Art Works / P176 / Sichuan Art Pub-lishing House
2009 Report to the Motherland 60 Years of New China Fine Arts / P244 / People’s Fine Arts Publishing House
2009 Chinese Fine Arts 60 years 1949-2009 Volume 3 / P154 / People’s Fine Arts Publishing House
2010 Complete Works of Chinese Contemporary Art Painting Volume 1 / P26 / Shanghai Calligraphy and Painting Publishing House
2010 The Story of Fine Arts from the Late Qing Dynasty to Today / P333 / Beijing University Press
2010 Thirty Years of Chinese Contemporary Art / P142 / Culture and Art Press
2011 Chinese Art History Since 1979 / Cover / China Youth Press
2011 Fang Lijun Chronicle / P104 / Culture and Art Press
2012 Western Template in Chinese Contemporary Art / P74 / People’s Fine Arts Publishing House
2012 Art Gallery as Knowledge Production / P194 / Central Compilation and Trans-lation Press
2012 Chronicle of Chinese art 1900-2010 / P963 China Youth Publishing House
2013 Chenghuaiguandao Chinese Contemporary Art Invitational Exhibition / P33 / Xichang Dantang Today Art Museum
2013 History of Chinese art in the 20th Century / P516 / New Star Press
2013 Chinese Art in the 20th Century (Part I) / P269 / Shanghai People’s Fine Arts Publishing House
2013 China Guaudian Twenty Years Fine Record / The Ferbidden City Publishing House
2014 Century China Famous Oil Painting Ten Topics / P105 / People’s Fine Arts Publishing House
2015 China Artists Association • Selected Works of Fine Arts Creation on Ethnic Minorities in China / P434 / People’s Fine Arts Publishing House
2015 Chinese National Art / p63 / issue 4
2016 History of Blood Relationship: Zhang Xiaogang Before 1996 / P134 / Guangxi Normal University
2016 Memorandum of Tibetan Paintings / P34 / CITIC press
2017 Silk Road Jinsui Oil Painting Invitation Exhibition / P119 / Jilin Fine Arts Pub-lishing House
2017 Research on Thematic Oil Painting in the 20th Century / P194 / Hebei Educa-tion Press
2017 From Van Gogh to Chinese Contemporary Art / P110-111 / Song Art Museum
2018 Chinese Contemporary Art Volume of Fine Arts Collection of Central Academy of Fine Arts / P216 / Shanghai Calligraphy and Painting Publishing House
Group paintings of Tibet and me / p21 / China Today Art Museum Press
2020 The Creation of the Complete Works of Chinese Contemporary Art in the Transitional Period (Part I) / P74 / Hubei Fine Arts Publishing House
1981 New Arts / P91-97 / second issue
1985 Chen Danqing / P14-17
1991 A Century History of Chinese Oil Painting / P363 / Artist Publishing House
2002 Chinese Oil Painting Literature 1542-2000 / P1240 / Hunan Fine Arts Publish-ing House
2006 Frontier-Chinese Avant Garde Art 1979-2004 / P37 / Hebei Fine Arts Publish-ing House
2013 Thirty Years of Chinese Contemporary Art 1978-2008 / P39 / Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House
2014 500 Years of Chinese Oil Painting IV / P126 / Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House

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1980 Graduation Works Exhibition of 78th Graduate Students of Central Academy of Fine Arts Exhibition Hall of Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing
1981 Art Exhibition of the People’s Republic of China Paris Spring Salon, Paris
1983 Art Exhibition of the People’s Republic of China Brooklyn Museum of Art, Boston City Hall, New York
1984 Art Exhibition of the People’s Republic of China Adams Museum, Harvard University, Lincoln Center National Gallery, New York, USA
1985 Art Exhibition of the People’s Republic of China State Government Office of New York World Trade Center, New York, USA
1987 Art Exhibition of the People’s Republic of China Modern Art Museum of Santa Ana California, California
1991 Art Exhibition of the People’s Republic of China Museum of Art, Bruce Uni-versity, New York
1998 Art Exhibition of the People’s Republic of China New York City Academy of Art, New York
2000 Chen Danqing 1968-1999 Sketch and Oil Painting Exhibition Tsinghua Uni-versity Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing and Hubei Academy of Fine Arts, Wuhan-Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts, Shenyang and Guangzhou Museum of Fine Arts, Guangdong and Jiangsu Museum of Fine Arts, Nanjing and Shanghai Museum of Fine Arts
2000 Centennial Exhibition of Chinese Oil Painting China Art Museum, Beijing
2009 Report to the Motherland 60 Years of New China Art China Art Museum, Bei-jing
2010 30 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art, Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai
2017 From Van Gogh to Chinese Contemporary Art, Song Museum, Beijing
2021 After Forty Years Review Chen Danqing’s "Tibetan Group Paintings" The Exhi-bition Hall of the Oil Painting Institute of the Chinese Academy of Arts, Beijing

Chen Danqing, who was fresh from postgraduate studies, made a name for himself at home and abroad for his oil painting Paintings of Tibet in Series as early as 1980. It is because of this series of paintings that Chen Danqing raised a high bar for his art. Chen Danqing then went abroad to study and travelled Europe to appreciate masterpieces by masters. But Paintings of Tibet in Series undoubtedly have better power to move people than all the works he produced after his travels. The Paintings of Tibet in Series present the image of “individuals” that never appeared in art creation at the time with unprecedented authenticity. Although Chen Danqing repeatedly said that he merely painted what he saw, the virtue of these works in a specific historical context is not weakened by the artist’s apparent unconcernedness. Viewers see the spiritual power of “individuals” contained in Chen Danqing’s works.
The works of two young oil painters attracted attention at the postgraduate works exhibition of the Central Academy of Fine Arts and the National Youth Fine Art Exhibition in 1980. The works of the two painters are Paintings of Tibet in Series by Chen Danqing and Father by Luo Zhongli. Their works depict the image of ordinary characters in a highly realistic way. The artists remind us that we should confront the grim life with such an honest attitude through their realistic portrayal of the simple and rough objects and their lives. Painting creations, represented by these two works, began to adopt naturalistic realism approach to reproduce the image of ordinary people, especially the people in remote border areas. It is the “countryside realism” in the history of art. This naturalistic style was a nod to the return to the right path and pursuit of truth after the “Cultural Revolution”. As local realist paintings emerged, there was discussion in the Chinese intellectual circles on “humanitarianism and alienation issues”. Therefore, the emergence of countryside realism spelled the end of an era when pretentious portrayal dominated the modern Chinese painting circles and the beginning of the era where the “light of human nature” shines.
Before his admission to the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Chen Danqing went to live and work in the countryside for eight years, and created works such as A Letter to Chairman Mao and Tears Shed on the Harvest Field. These works are not much different from the common unified art in China at the time in terms of techniques and language style, but Tears Shed on the Harvest Field describes the Tibetan characters. Though Tibetan theme and images of Tibetans are not the monopoly of Chen Danqing, Chen Danqing visited Tibet in 1980 to portray these figures and produced the Paintings of Tibet in Series, which reached a new height in terms of artistic effect. The reason for this is that the Tibetans described by his works are not stereotyped images for the purposes of political publicity, nor propaganda symbols of people singing and dancing joyously, but people in ordinary life scenarios, with no drama or literary themes attached. These ordinary Tibetans become the image of profundity, the good and the true culture, which raised the bar for paintings of Tibetan themes and departed from the Soviet-style painting language that was entrenched in people’s minds. It was refreshing at the time, so much so that, as Chen Daqing said, his classmates at the Central Academy of Fine Arts considered these paintings as “study” rather than “creations”.
Under the influence of Soviet socialist realist art in the 1950s, oil paintings created since the founding of the People’s Republic of China are generally works with literary themes. The images of workers, farmers and soldiers are common. This conceptualized creation dominated the literature and art scene for a long time. The “Exhibition of French 19th Century Rural Landscape Paintings”, which opened at the National Art Museum of China in March 1978, showcased over 80 French oil paintings produced in the 19th century. The exhibition is a determinant factor of the emergence of countryside paintings. It is also the first time that Chinese people viewed authentic European realistic paintings on such a large scale at close range. Viewers were especially impressed by Haymaking by Jules Bastien-Lepage. Long accustomed to the “realistic” expression by Soviet paintings and the artistic language of “grand, huge, complete”, and “red, shining, and bright” for a long time, people now saw the existence of another “realistic” expression and the soul of realism – “reality”. These oil paintings may be about a farmer couple taking a break under the trees on the edge of the field, but the images of two plain-looking farmers are enough to convey a cozy scene in the countryside. This exhibition caused a sensation among the audience. Likewise, Chen Danqing, who is fond of Gustave Courbet, Millet, and Jules Bastien-Lepage, observed ordinary people through basic humanitarian lens, and faithfully portrayed what he observes and feels in an artistic language familiar to him. It is because of this that Paintings of Tibet in Series displays a rare piece of the “people” flavor.
The Paintings of Tibet in Series consisting of seven paintings were created by Chen Danqing in Lhasa from 1978 to 1980. Instead of the prevailing concept about creation that stressed theme ideas at the time, this group of paintings directly portrayed the bits of daily life of Tibetans in a way like lifelike painting. The seven paintings capture the life of Tibetans such as “go to town”, “pilgrimage”, “Tibetan girl washing hair”, “mother and son”, “Kangba guy”... The Shepherd depicts a shepherding couple being locked in a kiss in a bold and straightforward manner. The man who only revealed his back kissed the woman’s cheek, showing his strong arms. It demonstrates the sturdy power of Tibetan youth. The woman accepts the kiss with a shy smiling face, but in a slightly stiff posture. The lifelike realistic details lend a sense of vitality and beauty to it, presenting a moment of the real life of Tibetans. In the painting The Shepherd, the moment of the lovers expressing their emotions is captured without the narrative drama, and “this moment” full of love is frozen, instead of pretentious and sensational portrayal in previous creations. Everything is a true portrayal of the objects. For the majority of viewers who have no knowledge about Tibetan life, the Tibetans in these works seem to be standing in front of them, just like the woman farmers in Millet’s paintings. Love as a theme among ethnic minorities is expressed directly and boldly in this work, which is never seen in the oil paintings during the Cultural Revolution period. It can be said that Paintings of Tibet in Series shows the restoration of humanity and the individuality after the Cultural Revolution, marking a new era of diversified themes of oil paintings.
From the perspective of language of painting, Paintings of Tibet in Series are an experiment with the expressiveness of paintings in traditional oil painting. In the Paintings of Tibet in Series, Chen Danqing brings into focus the images of Tibetans in daily life. The characters in the paintings have “monumental significance”, highlighting the stoutness and primitive emotions of the Tibetans. Chen Danqing expressed the simplicity of the bold, unconstrained and silent Kangba guys in the form of classical paintings, but without involving “emotions”, the melancholy in countryside paintings, and the dramatic and spatial changes in narrative. Time stands still in the paintings. In particular, the paintings of Tibet used deep reddish brown as the main color to portray the characters, adding to their pureness and plainness. Regarding the figures in the painting, Chen Danqing said: “I want to show people such powerful and rugged life on the Plateau. If you have seen the shepherds in the Kangba area, you will think they are the real man. I see them standing in multitudes on the street every day, and swapping accessories or selling ghee. They have penetrating eyes, and thick foreheads. Their braids and sash flutter as they walk. Their heavy steps strike you as having a soldierly bearing and earnestness, which fill us with admiration. They are good targets for painting. I found a straightforward language; they are a painting themselves when standing.”
Paintings of Tibet in Series have had a far-reaching influence in the art world for its natural and authentic quality. In addition to the paintings that characterize the indifferent and tenacious temperament of the Tibetans, another important reason is Chen Danqing’s selection of a rare theme. In this regard, Chen Danqing takes an indifferent attitude. “I was asked to talk about how to convey the feelings for the people and life in this painting, and the concern for social phenomena and the destiny of the nation. I can write several pages of views on this, but this is what I am unwilling to talk about... If the audience is unexpectedly touched by the truthful description and humanity in the work, and feel that ‘this is life and these are the people’, that is my biggest wish... Someone approved of this, saying that I exposed, condemned and denied this horrible backwardness and ignorance. My answer is no. I loathe using painting to lay bare something. Some say that I feel strongly for them and pity them, and is not necessarily...” In fact, after a long period of praise-singing, the artist does not forget about these natural and real moments such as the gloomy life, the dullness and numbness of people, the backward and impoverished environment. Instead of elaborating on these aspects, Chen Danqing makes objective, truthful records, but this faithfulness shows consideration in terms of artistic expression. For example, in the painting The Shepherd, the scene of kissing is not a contrived setting. Like a candid photograph, it creates a violent visual impact, as if putting the viewers on the scene to feel it for themselves.
To sum up, Chen Danqing inadvertently shattered an established idea in the minds of people about art in a calm and objective manner with his work Paintings of Tibet in Series, exposing people to a new possibility of expressing life. The Tibetans in the painting with their strong physique and pure emotions are free from the drama, as well as the traditions of aesthetics and affectation prevailing in mainstream painting creation previously, bringing changes to the norm of realistic works that had been popular in China for decades and getting reality back on track in artistic creation. Therefore, the Paintings of Tibet in Series are a call of the times, a call of nature and a call of humanity which has been dormant for a long time. To some extent, this group of works goes beyond art itself and is imbued with a universal meaning of enlightenment.