Chen Yifei who graduated from Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts is a well renowned oil painter and director. His works has won numerous awards in the country, and are sent to exhibit in Japan,France,Germany and other countries. Some works are collected in China's major museums and art galleries.
In 1980, Chen went to study in CUNY-Hunter College for Master degree of Fine Arts. His works have been shown in International Art Exhibition in New York,New England Modern Art Center,Smith Art Museum and Brooklyn Museum successively. In June 1985, he held a solo exhibition at Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington. Since 1983, he had held six personal exhibitions in Hammer Galleries in New York. In 1989 and 1990, he held a solo exhibition in Japan Seibu. As one of the only two guests, he was invited to participate in Hong Kong International Art Fair and hold a personal retrospective.
Chen Yifei has signed a contract with the world's most authoritative art gallery company--MARLBOROUGH, and become the first signed Asian painter in the history of this company. In 1992, he returned to Shanghai and founded Layefe brands and other visual arts companies in addition to oil painting creation. From 1996 to 1997, his retrospective exhibition was respectively held in Shanghai Museum and National Art Museum of China in Beijing. In the same year, he held a personal exhibition in MARLBOROUGH Gallery in England and participated in the Venice Biennale. The Yifei Group has developed into a visual industry group company integrated with clothing, advertising, magazines, models, and environmental art.
1.Realism - Romantic Chen Yifei
Chen Yifei, who has been rated as “romantic realism” by New York Times and Art News, is the representative of the latter history of Chinese realistic painting. Chinese realistic artists in 1980s are significantly different from the first realistic artists who had returned to China from abroad in the early 20th century. The latter's solid painting foundation and delicate techniques embodied the deep influence of western art genres in the end of 19th century and early 20th century, while the former's works combined more eastern elements and individual creation. At the same time, after the reform and opening up in 1978, the artists finally got rid of the shackles of the painting as a political propaganda tool, and could integrate self-thinking, personal feelings and life experience into the creation. As one of the most influential representative, Chen Yifei made these realist paintings during this stage to become common concern by Chinese people and the western world.
Chen Yifei learned oil painting from the famous painter Yu Yunjie, and had a solid foundation. Deeply affected both by Russian realism and history environment “Cultural Revolution”, his early painting reflected a strong sense of heroism, which had a negligible impact on his romanticism in his future works. The experience of further study in New York allowed him to have a more in-depth understanding of the concept of western culture and its painting skills and consolidate artistic techniques. In the United States in the 1980s, realism genres were being impacted by the new types of genres, including Chen Yifei. But he still chose the traditional realistic painting as the creative direction.
2. The Characteristics of Chen Yifei′s Works
Chen Yifei held that stemming from the heart, painting was a free and liberated behavior with no fixed self-expression method; to keep individual independence was very crucial, no matter how the world changes, the most important thing was to follow your own voice. Guided by such spirit, he not only studied western oil painting techniques, but also deeply explored his own cultural beliefs and combined his aesthetic pursuit and life experiences to form a unique style. US Herald Tribune said, “Chen Yifei′s painting perfectly combines western techniques and Chinese emotions, which is a glamorous mix”.
In his works of different stages, objects and techniques vary obviously, but the soul and connotation are always in line. Combination of oriental charm and western traditional techniques presented a warm and wonderful atmosphere compatible with sensitive and fresh modesty, allowing viewers to appreciate the works' tension as well as feel comfortable. His pictures often reflected a historical meaning and beautiful reminiscent mood. Whether depicting the charm of ancient beauties, tranquil waters in Zhouzhuang, or musicians′ performance, his typical low tones and soft lines created a sculptural highlight. The romantic scenes he had depicted were like decorations on stage and emotional poetry, activities viewers′ rich inner feelings as well as aesthetic sigh. What Chen Yifei wanted to convey was elegant and deep, typically natural landscape—water, lake, etc. And this characteristic was the exact one that best embodied his deep love for Chinese traditional culture and mastery of western techniques.