Zhao Xianwen, a painter of the Yellow River

By Zhu Shengnan| (chinadaily.com.cn)| Updated : 2022-08-24

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Zhao Xianwen, born in 1949, is a respected contemporary painter who has been devoted to artistic creation for 50 years. His works include comics, oil paintings and watercolor paintings.


A painting created by Zhao Xianwen [Photo/Binzhou News]

Zhao graduated from the Shandong College of Arts in 1969 and has received formal and professional education in fine art. He is a member of the China Artists Association and a national first-level artist. He was a former council member of the Association of Artists in Shandong province, curator of the Binzhou Art Gallery and dean of the Binzhou Painting Academy. Now, he serves as the honorary dean of the Binzhou Painting Academy, honorary chairman of Binzhou Artist Association, and visiting professor of Binzhou University.

To create paintings that can accurately depict people's lives, Zhao has always worked in the fields alongside the farmers. His sketches depicted simple but full characters and were true-to-life, as Zhao believes that art belongs to the people, and art can only truly come alive when its creators interact closely with the people.


A sketch by Zhao Xianwen [Photo/Binzhou News]

Zhao was regarded as a painter of the Yellow River. Whenever he went to the estuary of the Yellow River, he was amazed by the picturesque scenery of white clouds and reeds, migrant birds flying overhead, and the radiant sunset. Zhao integrated the magnificent thick yellow color of the river into his drawings, creating the first series to eulogize this mother river.


A painting of the Yellow River by Zhao Xianwen [Photo/Binzhou News]

The Yellow River inspired his creations. Zhao not only drew unique subjects, but also created new painting techniques, developing a new type of painting-marbling, in which colorful patterns are created by sprinkling and brushing color pigments on a pan of oily water and then transferring the pattern to paper, which earned him an award for the Scientific and Cultural Advancement of Shandong province in 1989. His marbling artworks were displayed at the Chinese Modern Painting and Calligraphy Exhibition in 1990, and then published by the Shandong Fine Arts Publishing House.

Zhao's works featuring the Yellow River not only broadened the horizons of the art world, but also inspired literary circles, leading to many excellent works of poetry and prose and promoting the development of the Yellow River culture.

Zhao further developed the marbling technique by combining ink to inject vitality and color into his paintings.

In 1994, he tried to create paintings of flowers and birds in the traditional Chinese style, including lotus, bamboo, vine and chrysanthemum, but he likes painting lotus most of all.

His representative work, entitled "Times of Peace and Prosperity", depicted a peaceful and prosperous China through a metaphor of lotuses, which is the largest lotus-themed flower-and-bird painting in the history of painting in China.


Times of Peace and Prosperity created by Zhao Xianwen [Photo/Binzhou News]

Seventy-year-old Zhao never stops painting, as he regards art as a part of his life. His decades-long painting career has become the treasure of his life. He devotes himself to recording the magnificent scenery of the Yellow River and his home country to this day.