Magazine Feature / People

Famous Chinese artist spends one year at DU

He is so mild mannered, unassuming and soft spoken, you’d never know Chen Hao is one of China’s premier landscape painters.

Chen, an associate professor and deputy director in the painting department of the Xu Beihong School of Arts at Renmin University in Beijing, is living and working at DU for one year.

He received a scholarship from the China Scholarship Council to come to the U.S. as a visiting scholar. Through connections with Elizabeth Owen, DU assistant professor of Asian art history, he chose to come to Denver.

“The U.S. feels very open, not only in the air, but in the atmosphere,” Chen says. “From my perspective, it makes people happy and better able to contribute to society.”

Chen is well known in China. His paintings have already been collected by the China National Museum and foreign dignitaries. And, he designed one of the commemorative postage stamps in honor of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics.

He is a contemporary artist who continues traditional forms of Chinese landscape painting.

“I don’t think the DU community is really aware of what a young, famous ‘superstar’ we have in our very midst,” Owen says. “Professor Chen’s scholarly and artistic talents are definitely an asset to our students and faculty.”

During his time at DU, Chen will visit studio classes and courses on Asian art history, and he will give a lecture this fall. In addition, he will demonstrate his technique and exhibit his paintings.

“As a modern painter in traditional styles, Chen uses painting modes, spatial features and other characteristics of the past to re-invigorate and inform the art of the present,” Owen says. “In this, he adds his own modern twist by incorporating modern, urban settings, skyscrapers and other city scenery within his subtle and nuanced landscape images.”

During the few weeks Chen has been at DU, dozens of paintings of the University cover his walls of his room in Centennial Towers. While he often draws a sketch of the initial landscape he wants to paint, he says he mostly records it in his memory.

“You see it and understand it and recall it in your heart,” he says.

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