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From Self-Taught Painter to Professional Artist: The Journey of Dong Yinghua

CultureArtFrom Self-Taught Painter to Professional Artist: The Journey of Dong Yinghua

Dafeng Hall, established by Zhang Zishan and Zhang Daqian in the 1920s in Shanghai, is an illustrious Chinese painting academy that has played a pivotal role in the art history of China. In recent years, the works of Dafeng Hall’s members have consistently fetched record-breaking prices at auctions, making it a prominent player in the Chinese landscape painting and calligraphy market. The academy is widely recognized as a barometer for the industry due to its tremendous influence on the market trends.

Dong Yinghua, a member of the academy since 2016, is renowned for his exceptional splash-ink landscape paintings. However, unlike most of his peers, who received formal training, Dong is primarily self-taught. Born in 1970 in Qiqihar, a city in Heilongjiang province, northeast China, Dong’s family had no tradition of painting, and his parents worked in a factory. Despite this, Dong has been passionate about painting since childhood, and he credits his interest and natural talent for his chosen craft.

Growing up in poverty, Dong’s family could not afford to buy him decent brushes and paper. Nevertheless, his passion for painting led him to draw on any surface he could find, including old newspapers and walls. Dong’s unique artistic style, which is characterized by his use of bold, uninhibited brushstrokes, reflects his persistence and creativity in the face of adversity.

Dong’s works, which feature breathtaking landscapes and intricate details, have won critical acclaim both in China and abroad. His paintings showcase the splendor of China’s natural scenery, capturing its majestic mountains and meandering rivers. His skillful use of splashes of ink, a technique that requires immense precision and control, has earned him a devoted following among art collectors and enthusiasts.

Despite his success, Dong remains grounded and committed to his art. He believes that his self-taught background has given him a unique perspective, allowing him to approach painting with a sense of freedom and independence. For Dong, art is not just a means of livelihood but a way of life, and he hopes that his works will continue to inspire others to explore their creativity and pursue their passions.

Dong Yinghua‘s exceptional talent and unique background make him a remarkable member of the Dafeng Hall academy. His journey from humble beginnings to becoming one of China’s most prominent landscape painters is a testament to his determination and resilience. His works continue to captivate and inspire art lovers worldwide, cementing his legacy as one of China’s great artists.

Dong Yinghua’s talent for drawing earned him a position as a clerk in the company office when he joined the army in 1989. It was his first realization of the difference his artistic gift could make to his life. After leaving the army, Dong found that his works were not as well-received by the public as they were in the army. Feeling lost, he abandoned his dream of earning a living through his art and became a factory worker in his hometown.

However, Dong’s passion for art persisted, and he could not ignore the calling of his heart. In 1994, he made the bold decision to leave his job and move to Beijing to pursue his dream. Every day, Dong visited Liulichang and Panjiayuan, two of the capital city’s major art markets, to show his works to galleries.

Dong recalled, “I will never forget that my first painting sold for 3,000 yuan ($447.6).” He sent 2,000 yuan back to his parents, which was about twice their monthly income at the time. He paid 500 yuan for his house rent, spent 300 yuan on new brushes and paper, and kept 200 yuan for himself. However, his lack of formal training became more evident, and the gallery owners regarded him only as an amateur painter.

Despite facing rejection, Dong did not let discouragement get in the way of his passion. He continued to paint with determination and dedication. He reflected, “I had no idea what to do about that. But thankfully, I didn’t stop painting.”

Dong’s self-belief and unwavering perseverance soon paid off. He began to gain recognition for his unique artistic style and exceptional talent, which were the result of his relentless practice and dedication. With his works increasingly in demand, Dong’s reputation as a rising star in the Chinese art scene grew rapidly.

Looking back on his journey, Dong attributes his success to his determination to pursue his passion and his belief in himself, despite the many obstacles he faced. He said, “Art is the foundation of my life, and it has given me the courage to continue pursuing my dreams.”

Today, Dong is widely regarded as one of China’s most talented contemporary landscape painters, known for his stunning splash-ink paintings that capture the majesty of China’s natural scenery. His remarkable journey from a factory worker to a celebrated artist is an inspiration to many, and his legacy continues to inspire generations of aspiring artists to follow their dreams.

In a fortunate turn of events, Dong’s life took a new direction in 2010 when Shi Yunxiang, an artist and manager of Dafeng Hall, stumbled upon Dong’s works in a gallery in Liulichang. Shi expressed his desire to meet the painter, and the two hit it off immediately when they finally met, feeling like old friends.

Shi went on to invite Dong to join Dafeng Hall, which proved to be a turning point in Dong’s career. It was the opportunity he had been waiting for, a chance to learn from masters and develop his skills. The experience was transformative for Dong, and he emerged from the academy a professional artist, with contracts with galleries.

Joining Dafeng Hall was an “eye-opening” experience for Dong, who had previously been a talented “attic” painter with no formal training. It also solidified his determination to pursue his childhood dream of becoming an accomplished artist. Dong’s commitment to his craft led him to attend workshop training at the Academy of Arts & Design of Tsinghua University from 2013 to 2014.

The training at Tsinghua University was a significant milestone in Dong’s career, providing him with an opportunity to hone his skills further. The workshop training exposed him to new techniques and approaches, enhancing his ability to create captivating paintings. Dong’s work began to attract more attention, and he became increasingly popular with collectors.

Thanks to his membership in Dafeng Hall and the training he received, Dong’s career took off, and his works began to receive widespread recognition. He had come a long way from his days of drawing on old newspapers and walls. Today, Dong is regarded as a prominent Chinese artist, with his paintings being sold for substantial sums at auctions.

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