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Shadows, Zen and Italian masters Artist

YU Qiping is deeply touched by tradition including the art of the Italian master Giotto, while Yin Kejian's traditions stem from a close-knit historical family style. Wang Jie canvases their opinions. When Yu Qiping was jobless, divorced and had a 10-year-old son to feed, he was at the abyss of his life.

"I don't want to talk about it too much at the moment," says Yu with a sigh. "Anyway, I recovered."

However, the shadows of the past may not be easily removed from his art.

For example, the pictures of a group of monks wearing red robes silently sitting and piously murmuring Buddhist sutras in a yard, or a cluster of old brick houses with no residents, all seem to evoke deeply emotional but empty feelings.

Born in 1957 in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, Yu says the special culture of his hometown, once the capital for six ancient dynasties in Chinese history, influences him a lot.

"I can't describe it in words, but if you have been to Nanjing, you will immediately get it," he says.

In 1991, Yu was spotted by a Japanese collector who invited him to Japan. "It was my stay there that really widened my vision in art," he says.

As a traditional ink-wash painter, Yu doesn't exactly repeat the techniques and forms created by his predecessors.

"Why? Because I have my own aesthetic taste," he explains. "I prefer to paint something new."

After spending nearly two decades in Japan, Yu's brushstrokes are also influenced by Japanese culture.

"Calmness, this is my biggest impression of this nation," he says. "They also suffered a lot during World War II, which unwittingly enabled them to find real peace in life. Japanese people are not easily moved and have a special admiration for anything that is simple and unsophisticated."

But Yu's paintings also fuse Western techniques.

For example, he doesn't follow traditional methods when painting trees. On the contrary, the trees produced with his brushstrokes are reminiscent of Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337), "the father of European painting."

"I travelled a lot in Europe soon after I went to Japan, visiting museums and galleries," he says. "I was totally conquered upon seeing the Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes created by Michelangelo. What an incredible masterpiece!"

Yu refers to a lot of Italian masters in his art, which makes his paintings very different.

Because of the profound Zen meanings hidden in his works, Yu's paintings are well received in Japan. "I feel proud that I have raised my son by relying on my art," he says.

In recent years, Yu has returned to China where his roots are.

Now he rents a big studio inside an old apartment on Nanjing Road W. in Shanghai and is enjoying his life back home.

"Now I am preparing for a solo exhibition here," he says.

"I need to be recognized in my own country." Yu Qiping

Born in 1957 in Nanjing.

A graduate from the Nanjing Art College in 1984.

Chinese Contemporary Artists in Japan commemorative exhibition, Shore Gallery, Japan, in 1991.


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