August 25, 2017

Dong Yifang: Painting Through a Century of Change in China

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University Galleries will display a painting exhibition titled Dong Yifang: Painting Through a Century of Change in China. The exhibit, which opens Monday and runs through Oct. 7, will feature ink paintings and sketches by Dong Yifang, supplemented by original artwork of Dong’s teacher, Qin Zhongwen, and student, Wang Yani. The opening reception will be at 5:30 p.m., Aug. 31, and will feature special guests from the Henan Museum of Art.

Dong Yifang is one of few Chinese artists who worked continuously through the periods of the Republic of China (1911-1949), high socialism (1949-1976), and reform (1977-present). Dong began his artistic practice in the 1930s by developing a solid foundation in traditional Chinese painting through his studies with teacher and painter Qin Zhongwen. At the Beijing College of Art, from 1942-1945, Dong learned oil painting from Wei Tianlin, an impressionist who had studied in Japan. In 1946, Dong studied watercolor painting at Fu Jen University and worked with Gustav Ecke at Beijing College of Art. Through these experiences, Dong Yifang became skilled in both Western and traditional Chinese painting techniques.

Early in his career, Dong’s work reflected his studies and understanding of traditional artistic practices. His paintings also revealed a love for the landscape. During the period of High Socialism, Dong struggled with the limitations that resulted from the politicization of art, as socialist realism became the official art style of the People’s Republic of China. Finally, during the period of reform (1977-present), modern Western art was reintroduced, and Dong Yifang found the freedom he needed to continue his artistic development. In the 1990s, Dong established a method of painting by building upon the techniques of traditional Chinese ink painting and incorporating Western-influenced naturalism. His final works reveal not only a unique understanding of material, light, space, and form, but a thought-provoking commentary on the artist’s never-ending search for mastery of craft and originality of voice within a world of political and social change.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Indiana Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tippecanoe Arts Federation, the Confucius Institute, and Purdue’s College of Liberal Arts. The exhibition team includes Erwei Dong, Alice Wang, Kathy Evans, David Parrish, Michal Hathaway, and Liz Erlewine. Jianguo Hua, director of the Henan Musuem of Art, will be presenting at the opening reception.

Ringel Gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, except for extended hours from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays. All Purdue Galleries exhibits and events are free and open to the public.

For class and group visits, contact Erika Kvam at Purdue Galleries at 765-494-3061. For more information, visit or follow @PurdueGalleries on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Contact: Erika Kvam, 765-494-3061,

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