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Chen Danqing: Disguise and Paintings from Life

Chen Danqing

Curated by Cui Cancan

05.24. - 06.30, 2019

Hong Kong


Tang Contemporary Art is pleased to present “Chen Danqing: Disguise and Paintings from Life”, a solo exhibition of oil paintings by Chinese-American artist Chen Danqing. The show marks Chen’s first major solo presentation in Hong Kong and his first exhibition with the gallery. Curated by Cui Cancan, it will showcase Chen’s latest figure paintings from live models.

Chen Danqing is one of the most important painters in history of Chinese contemporary art. Born in Shanghai in 1953, he created propaganda posters as a teenager depicting the feats of Mao Zedong. He took an interest in painting at a young age, constantly studying works by Western artists to improve his technique. Chen was particularly influenced by the works of the Realist painter Jean Francois Millet whose works were featured in the group exhibition “Exhibition of French Rural Landscape Paintings from the 19th Century” in National Art Museum of China in 1978. In 1976, Chen visited Tibet and painted “Harvest Fields Flooded by Tears” that earned him early recognition. His growing interest in Tibetan people and their life resulted in visiting Tibet for the second time in 1980 and producing numerous life-drawings, sketches later realised in the form of paintings. He graduated from the Chinese Academy of Fine Arts in 1980 and participated in the graduation exhibition showcasing his most well-known series of Tibetan paintings.

The medium of painting allows Chen Danqing to orchestrate the viewer’s interaction with work, therefore producing a flow of pictorial associations. According to the artist, “key elements of painting include composition, colour, genuineness, rhythm and idea development. Painting definitely has limits, you cannot release yourself through the process of painting. Painting can no longer provide so-called ‘nutrition’, which is why I do not care about what I do. In this sense, all the people that are still into painting are immoderate.”


Chen’s latest works were produced in collaboration with models from China Bentley Culture & Media Company and renowned stylist Xie Xing. He worked at the studio of artist You Yong from Chinese Academy of Oil Painting. Model’s height encouraged the artist to create large-scale life paintings for the first time. By integrating influence of Western aesthetics with Chinese culture, Millet’s technique is still manifested in chromatic brilliance of Chen’s paintings.


Self-portrait - 60 Years Old oil on canvas 138 x 92.5 cm 2014

Smartphones oil on canvas 160 x 160 cm 2016

Red Shoe oil on canvas 180 x 160 cm 2017

Colourful Clothing and Muslin Dress oil on canvas 180 x 160 cm 2017

Veil oil on canvas 180 x 160 cm 2017

Cigarette oil on canvas 180 x 160 cm 2017

White Shirts oil on canvas 210 x 230 cm 2017

At Ease oil on canvas 180 x 160 cm 2017

Red Suit oil on canvas 210 x 230 cm 2017

Floral Dresses oil on canvas 180 x 160 cm 2016

Artificial Flowers oil on canvas 210 x 230 cm 2017

Suitcase oil on canvas 180 x 160 cm 2016

Stylist Xie Xing oil on canvas 220 x 200 cm x 2 2017

Woman Resting Her Head on Her Hand oil on canvas 61 x 76 cm 2014


Chen Danqing

b. 1953 Shanghai, China

Chen Danqing is an American-Chinese painter known for his realist depictions of nudes and rugged landscapes. Influenced by the paintings of Jean-François Millet, Chen empathetically portrayed Tibetan farmers and herdsman, drawing criticism from the Communist regime during the 1980s.

Born on August 11, 1953 in Shanghai, China, he created propaganda art as teenager depicting the feats of Mao Zedong. Chen went on to enroll at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. In 1982, the artist immigrated to the United States, where he spent the next 18 years writing and painting in New York. During his time in New York, Chen befriended fellow artist and activist Ai Weiwei. In 2000, he returned to China, and became an outspoken critic against the state. Ai and Chen published the book Interviews Not About Art in 2007.

With the long lost humanity and strong personality, Chen Danqing, unlike many contemporary Chinese intellects, dares to question the social reality, and reflects and criticizes many social events with a senesce of detachment that should have been possessed by an intellect. He is awarded the prizes for “The Fifty Public Intellectuals Who Have Influenced China”, “2005 Top Ten Male Elites in China”, “Elites of the Era”, etc..

Curator: Cui Cancan


Cui Cancan is an independent curator in China, he has won Chinese Contemporary Art Award Critic Award, Yi Shu Award for Critical Writing etc., curated main exhibitions like Hei Qiao Night Way (2013), Xiang Cun Xi jian Chui (2013), FUCKOFF II (2013), Unlived by What is Seen (2014), Between the 5th and 6th Ring Road in Beijing (2015), The Decameron (2016), Curated solo exhibitions like Ai Weiwei, Xia Xiaowan, Shen Shaomin, Wang Qingsong, He Yunchang, Xiao Yu, Qin Ga, Xie Nanxing, Shi Jinsong, Li Zhanyang, Xu Zhongmin, Ma Ke, Xia xing, Zhao Zhao, Li Qing, Chen Yufan, Chen Yujun, Li Binyuan, Feng Lin, Zhang Yue, Zong Ning, Jiang Bo etc.


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