Oil on canvas, 1996
A superb still life oil painting on canvas by highly regarded contemporary Chinese artist Chen Danqing.
Chen Danqing was born in 1953 in Shanghai, China. He began his career as an artist in 1970, leaving the political persecutions of the Cultural Revolution in China, and moving to Tibet where he was greatly influenced by the people of the rural area he resided in. Chen’s early paintings were of a social realist style, showing influences of Soviet socialist art. During this time Danqing created the ‘Tibetan Series’ of paintings, which brought him high critical acclaim and greatly influenced the emerging Native Soil Painting movement in China.
In 1978, with the end of the Cultural Revolution and the restoration of the National Higher Education Entrance Examination, Chen returned to China and was admitted to the oil paintings department of China Central Academy of Fine Arts.
In the 1980’s Chen moved to the United States and became an American citizen, living and painting in New York City. During this time in Chen’s career, Chen was influenced by the French Naturalist painters of the 19th century, particularly by French realist Jean-Francois Millet. In this period Chen’s paintings shifted away from their grandiose size in favor of more intimate scale paintings. In the 1990’s he created still life paintings, of which ‘Lotus Shoes’ is one.
In 2000 Chen returned to China to Tsinghua University Academy to take a position as a professor of fine arts and doctoral supervisor. Currently Danqing Chen lives and paints in China.
‘Lotus Shoes’ was painted in 1996, a time period when the artist was creating symbolic still life paintings. In this painting the artist has chosen Lotus shoes as a subject. Lotus shoes were worn by Chinese women with bound feet, with the idea that the bound foot and shoe resembled the form of a lotus bud.
Foot binding is believed to have originated among upper-class court dancers during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period in Imperial China, about the 10th century. Foot binding gained popularity during the Song dynasty and eventually spread to all social classes as a means of displaying a woman’s social status. Women from wealthy families, who did not need their feet to work, could afford to have them bound. Foot binding resulted in lifelong disabilities for most of its subjects. The practice of foot binding remained popular in China until the early 20th century when it was met with opposition from Chinese reformers.
This painting is a great example of the artist’s work from his still life period.
Originally purchased from Art Beatus, Vancouver, BC, Canada, this painting is in excellent condition; it is signed in the upper right and dated, 1996. The painting comes from a prominent San Francisco bay area collector’s estate, and still retains the original label from Art Beatus Gallery.