Tuesday, August 11, 2015

WORK OF THE WEEK: Portrait III by Zhang Li

Zhang Li
Portrait III
oil on linen
31 5/8 x 25 5/8 inches
Artist Zhang Li has been called "China's Rembrandt" and it's easy to see why. Zhang Li's chosen genre is portraiture, permeating with dark, moody amber hues. Using painting techniques borrowed from the past he creates a tableaux through an arduous process of wrinkling, washing, erasing and molding. Li is heavily influenced by Europe’s Old Masters, with a distinctively Chinese perspective that captures the grace of local tribal people in broad, striking strokes.

At the age of 30 Zhang Li emerged as one of China's most talented painters. His meticulously crafted portraits shown at the country's 2nd International Arts Exhibition were immediately admired by both academics and collectors. Zhang Li's European inspiration developed from China's opening to the world in the 1980s, which presented Li's generation of painters the ability to experience and study original European oil paintings. “Their understanding increased by leaps and bounds and many Chinese painters, including Zhang Li, started to believe that only through the history of oil painting could its mysteries be discovered.” explains renowned critic, Go Zheng Yu. This new ability to study European art more easily diverted painters such as Zhang Li from the influences of traditional Chinese schools of oil painting, which had remained entrenched since the 1930s. “Zhang Li has been attacking the ‘blind zone’ of China’s past oil painting with European style. His painting style is classically refined, but not in the familiar European way,” notes Go Zheng Yu. “Zhang Li worships works by Rembrandt, as well as Courbet and Degas, but his subjects are not the French ballet, the Italian opera or the British court. On the contrary, they convey the profound softness and purity of local tribes. His choice of subjects from Tibet and the hills of southwest China has become his trademark.

Born in Beijing in 1959, Zhang Li joined the army in 1976 and enrolled in the PLA Art Academy in 1979, where he became a teacher after graduation in 1983. He is a member of the Chinese Artists Association and Associate Professor of Fine Arts Department of the PLA Art Academy. His works have been exhibited at domestic and international exhibitions and received numerous prestigious prizes. His paintings are in the collections of top museums, private, and corporate collections. In 1988, after being presented at the "First Chinese Oil Painting Exhibition", his works were sent to Japan for further exhibition. In 1989, his works joined the "Third Asian Arts Exhibition" and were collected by Fukuoka Art Museum of Japan. He gained the top prize at the International Portrait Exhibition held by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2000. Zhang Li's paintings continue to be among the most sought after of Chinese oil paintings by collectors both in China and internationally.

Contact us for pricing and inquiries about this work
203.869.3664 or art@cavaliergalleries.com