Modern & Contemporary Chinese Art
Hu Yongkai (Chinese, b. 1945)
The Door, 1998
mixed media on paper
Gift of Red Rock Studio, Hong Kong, A Williams Alumnus
Photo by Jim Gipe-Pivot Media and Stephen Petegorsky
Hu Yongkai (b. 1945, Beijing) learned about Western art as a student at the Central Academy of Fine Arts of Beijing. The program emphasized Western oil painting, and he was drawn to the work of Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh in particular. During the Cultural Revolution, Hu and his staff at the Shanghai Animation Film Studios were sent to the countryside south of Shanghai. Like Nie Ou and Zeng Shanqing, agrarian life had a profound impact on his art. When not performing hard labor, Hu sketched the village people and buildings around him and incorporated these images into his later work. He was inspired by the art of peasants who had no formal training—a departure from the art he studied at the academy. Women at leisure are a prominent subject in his art, as seen here. The architectural and garden settings evoke traditional paintings and historic places. He blends Chinese and Western art, formal training and naïve self-expression, and past and present to create an idyllic world.
Hu inscribed “Painted by Yongkai” on the painting.