Changing’s Paintings Author:Dai Shih Date: 2013-09-23 Size:
It was September, 1997. Shingling was painting from life in Lesser Khingan Mountains where there were all kinds of colorful leaves and the weather varied greatly during the day. Wearing a new medium yellow down coat, he stood out against the landscape.


It was September, 1997. Shingling was painting from life in Lesser Khingan Mountains where there were all kinds of colorful leaves and the weather varied greatly during the day. Wearing a new medium yellow down coat, he stood out against the landscape. When he came back a month later, the coat had totally turned into camouflage with mud and pigment all over. He was too absorbed in his drawing to care if his outfit was neat or not.

Shangying himself is quite complex, sometimes simple and good-natured but sometimes very resolute.

That time he finished several paintings. Though not very large, they were beautiful in their own right. In a landscape sketch, colors must fit in with the author’s emotion and context, and they must be extracted from relations, therefore becoming something intentional. At that time, we, more than a score in total, were all so obsessed with this sort of color relation that we went on separate ways to draw inspiration from nature and went back together for dinner after a whole day’s work. Our paintings were put along the wall in a small dining hall where we could exchange our ideas while having supper.

The most frequent word that Shangying used to emphasize is “simplicity”. He kept saying it all the time. Sometimes he nodded murmuring it whereas sometimes shook his head in a hideous tone, as if to cut something off. This determination along with his artistic pursuit is targeted not only at the color and modeling, but also at the pictorial language as a whole.

From a student at the middle school attached to CAFA to a bachelor of CAFA and in the end a graduate there, he has undergone the transition from interest in painting to a profession all the way. In Li Keran’s words, Shangying has entirely “got into painting’. After all the trials and tribulations, he has eventually turned himself into a newly-rising star in the circle of artists.


From 2004 to 2008, Shangying has painted typical scenery in Inner Mongolia, his hometown. Sharing the same theme of love of life, “Mother and Son” in 2004 and “Song of Ulan Qab” in 2007 achieved the same artistic effect. With only three years’ difference, the latter about bulls, more passionate and direct than the former about horses, coupled with skillful approaches, bold colors, and free strokes, showed that he    had embarked on a new stage in art. How lovely are these horses and bulls! These robust bulls in the painting are like a golden mountain arising out of nowhere. The presence of the magpie is his stroke of inspiration, creating a carefree prospect of presence but not deliberate concern.

I love those characters in his works, such as “The Watchman”, “Grandmother”, “The Sower”, “Pangjing”, “Uncle”, “Guibao”, and “I Saw”, as well the scenery in “Waiting for Harvest”, “The North”, “Door”, “The  Arxan Prairie”, “Yiershi Town”, “Wheat Field”, “The small Station”, “Arxan in the Dusk”, etc.  

The landscape in his hometown is as pure as snow. After a rainstorm, the sun comes out and sunshine floods the earth. In Shangying’s eyes, everything, such as plants, bricks, animals and human beings, are equal, living in the sunshine from generation to generation. So common but still valuable, they create the mysterious history of nature with their own lives.


“Tai-hang Mountains Series” and “Snow Plateau Series” came out respectively in 2009 and 2010. In a series of works, such as “Castle in Jiangzi”, “Lake Manasarovar”, “Snow Plateau”, “Beyond the Lake”, “Sound at Night”, “The Holy Lake”, etc., Shangying has unfolded a world, colorful and magic but ferocious. Unlike the scenery in Inner Mongolia, it is not his familiar homeland but exotic land, even a remote and secluded land where sacred spirits would show up. In this world, things come and go, leaving almost no traces.

If the paintings featuring his hometown are a series of prose, then the “Snow  Plateau” is nothing short of an epic. With his wandering strokes, Shangying painted fantasies, in which he has a talk with the spirits of heaven, meditating on the miracle of Mother Nature.

In these paintings, Shangying seems to be able to mix with the vigorous and magnificent nature.

I believe that all of these paintings must come out of true instant feelings not of design or prearranged painting procedure. All his artistic accomplishment, reflections and considerations are condensed in this painting process which ends at one stretch.

Beyond techniques, what matters more in Shangying’s paintings is his pursuit for artistic conception. Will he stop and just rest on his laurels since he has got familiar with the rules in the field of painting? Shangying is not made for that. He will never be satisfied with what he has achieved. There is no terminal in art nor is there a boundary in theme. It is also true of Shangying’s world of art. Based on the achievements his forerunners have made, Shangying aims high and looks ahead into the future—every unknown wasteland and every planet that is labeled “no entry” to a painter. Anyway the eternal charm lies in the ocean off the sea route, as one can always find some new themes in such a spiritual realm of human spirit. He wishes to step away from the routine and to enter a much higher state of freedom. As an artist, he must learn to go along with the sailing route but also to be brave enough to explore the unknown world ahead.


At an international seminar on sketch in Sydney in August 2008 Shangying gave a talk about the artistic expressiveness involved in modeling “details”. Compared with other participants, he is fairly young and ambitious but calm as well as thoughtful, always keeping a low profile. His speech, simple but thought-provoking, was well accepted by all the participants. Indeed, Shangying is a diamond in the rough. He has a really rich inner world. Every once in a while you will find something new about him and his art, and it is particularly true now, as he is still in a vigorous growing stage. Take “Bulls in Love” for reference, we can see “Baby Horse with Mom” is a continuation, but it is really impossible to make predictions according to “Baby Horse with Mom”, just us there is no way to expect fantastic ferocity from the serene boundless prairie and the natural sunshine and rain in his paintings. Like a sapling, he is nourished by the blue sky and the soil. Today there is a new branch and tomorrow we will see blossoms, and fruits will follows days later. With wind and rain, several leaves will fall. This sapling will eventually grow into an independent strong man. “It’s an independent tree not a swaying grass,” people would say.  

                                                   January 22, 2012

[Editor] 纪晓棠