Christopher Zhang

Born in Shanghai, China, I acquired a BFA degree in China and a MFA in the United States. In addition to creating subject matter paintings, I specialize in portraiture and landscapes. My versatile styles and skills at still life and in Chinese traditional painting and calligraphy have also won popularity. My primary painting medium is oil. Others are watercolor, acrylic, gouache and Chinese ink. My painting style developed through three phases:


During the second phase of the style transition, the visual effects of my paintings improved significantly. However, they might be just too pretty to express personality, as if they nearly fell into a pattern of commercialization. I asked myself where the early 'spirit of painting' had gone. The 'spirit' had driven me to relentlessly pursue the true art of the first phase. I was eager to have it back. I realized that the key was to balance style and personality. After a trip to Europe, I came to the conclusion that I must follow the model of realism of both Eastern and Western European styles of the 19th century. Specifically, I try to combine the Impressionist colors with the big and rough brushstrokes of Russian realism. I have applied this combination of styles to the two types of subject matter paintings.

My education of fine arts including normal pre-and post-college studies in China, was strongly influenced by the Russian realistic painting of the 19th century and the Soviet times. The focus was always on life model drawing and painting, studying the combination of color contrast and dark and light values as shown by different brushstrokes. Under professional gallery lighting, this kind of painting produced a realistic and vivid style but lacked delicacy and visual attraction In addition, the subject matter painting, like other media, would often be used for political propaganda in China. Most of my paintings of that period are unfortunately gone.

Today, I spend most of my time on those two kinds of theme paintings. There're many challenges: from getting new ideas, drafting and drawing all the way to finishing. I may need years to complete one creation of those paintings. Nonetheless, this is a rigid road for an artist to take a higher standard so as to continuously improve his art and reach greater success. Aside from this hard work, I paint portraits and landscapes occasionally. Portraits, as mostly commissions, are simply to satisfy patrons. Landscape painting is an easy and interesting creation. I paint them for relaxation. I enjoy painting the sea sunrise and sunset as well as the golden New England autumn. I really feel that I express my love of nature from the bottom of my heart in many small landscape paintings.

With more and more works winning prizes and collected by the public, I have an increasing feeling that art is more about the level of intellectual and cultural understanding than about the level of technical ability. In other words, a painting is not just composition, perspective, colors and values; it is the interaction of all visual and performing arts including music, dance, film and literature, etc. One can better understand the painting if one understands such connections. That is a serious artist's goal and life mission. That is all I want to say about my art. Of course, paintings themselves should speak better than words. Thank you for visiting my website. If you have any questions, please let me know.


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