First, a little background and personal information on myself. As you can probably tell from my in-depth analysis of all things pretty, yummy or fashionable, I was in fact an art history major in college (see also: useless college majors that won't pay the bills).
This post is a little break from the usual topic areas on MPCC, but is something I have wanted to incorporate into my content for ages- hopefully kick starting a new subject area on art and culture. Enter my co-worker Barbara Chen and her presentation at the Chinese Cultural Center of Newton on the work of her father, Yet-Por Cheng, providing me with said opportunity on a silver platter.
Yet-Por Cheng (pictured above painting) came from humble beginnings. He was an accomplished self taught artist, who eventually worked his way to the HangZhou Arts Academy, studying Western Art and pattern. Following graduation, he taught himself what he would be best known for, Chinese brush painting. Anyone who has studied traditional watercolor technique and brush painting knows how great an accomplishment this is. He was a prolific artist, innovating his own styles with daring mediums, using finger painting and permeable paper painting to create his well known animal imagery.
Cheng's early work was heavily influenced by his contemporary Qi Baishih. Qi Baishih, beloved in China and relatively unknown to the Western world, incidentally became the third highest grossing artist in sales this past February, surpassed by only Picasso and Warhol. Qi Baishih's work and this genre are extremely popular in China and gaining momentum worldwide (click here for the article).
What set Yet-Por Cheng apart from other artists was his ability to give the animals playful expressions, movement, personalities, and to evoke responses to his characters from his audience.
Years of production from the artist culminated in the posthumous 2008 centennial exhibition "The World at His Fingertips" at the Chinese National Museum of History in Taipei City, Taiwan (click here for more information on his work and the exhibit). The above masterpiece was used for for the exhibit poster.
As Yet-Por Cheng matured, so did his style. He continued to remain true to his subjects portraying their movement and personality but he also demonstrated more understanding of the animal and his medium, painting in greater detail that came to typify his later works.
What is missing from my brief overview is the passion my friend Barbara imbued into her presentation, along with personal stories about her father that no one else could tell quite like her. Similar to her father she shares a passion for the arts, being herself an accomplished photographer, pianist and karaoke performer. I love me some Barbara Chen and I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn more about her talented father and share it with my readers! I am ahem, still waiting patiently for my invite out to an evening of karaoke.
Art lesson complete.