Edged between the cultures of East and West and the passage from the past to the present, the artist Ding Yanyong (1902-1978) and his life experiences shed light on the triumphs and tribulations of a nation in a tumultuous era.
Ding studied Western painting in Japan and returned to China to join the art scene in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing. He became a motivating force in the New Art Movement that spearheaded the changes to revolutionize Chinese art, in the company of such masters as Xu Beihong, Liu Haisu and Lin Fengmian. As an art educator, he achieved the pinnacle of his career as President of the Guangdong Provincial Art Academy in Guangzhou between 1946 and 1949.
The political turnover in 1949 forced Ding to flee to Hong Kong, leaving behind an illustrious career in mainland China to come to an island where he was a complete stranger. All alone without his family and suffering extreme financial hardship, Ding persevered in the apathetic artistic environment of Hong Kong during that period. His revolutionary efforts to blend Western Fauvism with Chinese traditional literati painting and archaic seal-carving,formed his signature style. His comical and yet mystical art will be unfolded in the drama of his personal life, which has been intimately interwoven in the complex artistic milieu of Hong Kong.
Professor Mayching Kao is the former Chair Professor of Fine Arts and the Director of the Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. She specializes in Chinese painting with an emphasis on the Ming, Qing and modern periods, as well as cross-cultural influences and art education. Her publications include European Influences in Chinese Art, Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries, Lin Fengmian: A Butterfly Broken Free from Its Cocoon,The Art of Wu Guanzhong, The Mei Yun Tang Collection of Paintings by Chang Da-chien, Celebration of Nature: The Life and Art of Chao Shao-an, Gao Jianfu and the Ceramics Industry in Modern China, Ding Yanyong: His Life and Art and Fang Zhaoling: Her Times, Life and Art.