Zhang Yinghong was one of the leading artists in “Shanghai School” watercolor paintings. His art concept has distinct style of the time he lives in. He dared to make a breakthrough and innovate. His techniques are mature and flexible, creating fresh, unadorned and concise images.
As a senior artist among Shanghai watercolorists, Zhang Hongying was always devoted to the promotion and public activities of aquarelle. He was engaged in teaching at Shanghai Tongji University and Shanghai Institute of Technology, and cultivated many watercolor professionals. At the beginning of the 20th century, Zhang worked with Pan Changzhen and created “The First Watercolor Advance Training Class of China Academy of Art”, exploring how can watercolor paintings make full use of their features and take the required social functions. He also devoted himself into six consecutive China Watercolor Exhibitions… During the critical historical period of Chinese watercolor development, he promoted it and spread it to the whole nation.
Zhang loved his hometown, Ningbo, and supported the fine art development in Ningbo although he lived in Shanghai. He had held many watercolor lectures in Ningbo and instructed young Ningbo watercolor artists. In 2013, he held a solo exhibition at Ningbo Museum of Art, which is his first exhibition in Ningbo. The exhibition was well received by the audience. Afterwards, he donated 25 paintings to NMA. Displaying these artworks online, we hope the reader could find Zhang’s heart in colors and his art spirit of innovations.
About the Artist
Zhang Yinghong was born in 1931 in Shanghai, whose family origin is in Ningbo. He studied at Shanghai Fine Arts School since 1946, and later furthered his study at Hangzhou National College of Art. He used to teach at Shanghai Tongji University and Shanghai Institute of Technology. He was also a professor at China Academy of Art and East China Normal University. He used to be the first Deputy Director of Watercolor Art Committee of China Artists Association, President of China Watercolorists Society and President of Shanghai Watercolor Research Institute. He was engaged in watercolor teaching and creation for over 70 years. He had published many books, including Contemporary Watercolor Techniques, Watercolor and Still Life – Famous Lectures Series and Zhang Yinghong Watercolor Collection.
Orient vs Watercolor
Zhang Yinghong focused on the features of nation and time of watercolor paintings. In his early works, the touches are light and flexible, and the colors are fresh and serene. Water and color are combined perfectly to display his experienced skills in controlling water and color, which also provide touches of poetry like Chinese ink paintings.
High Stone Bridge
33cm×45cm, watercolor and gouache, 1979
52cm×38cm, watercolor and gouache, 1986
House by Water
46.5cm×38cm, watercolor and gouache, 1980s
Since ancient times, people in regions south of Yangtze River like to live by water, which not only provides them with water sources for farming and fishing, but also brings convenience for travelling. As a native born in a city south of Yangtze River, Zhang Yinghong knew the scenery of this region by heart. The landscape flows into his heart and is poured out on paper: the images are rhythmic, poetic and pictorial. The High Stone Bridge portrays the bridge and stream in fresh and clean touches. The stream beneath the stone bridge reflects the surrounding houses, trees and dockyards in different colors. They shimmer with the water, cozy and comfort. In Fisherman’s Home and House by Water, boats sit next to houses with fences standing in mist, presenting an oriental poem in hazy ink.
Greenery on Mountains in Sichuan in Late Spring
50cm×39.5cm, watercolor and gouache, 1980s
Season of Seedling Planting
57cm×38cm, watercolor and gouache, 1980s
On Jialing River
54cm×33cm, watercolor and gouache, 1984
Flowers vs Design
In mid 1980s, Zhang Yinghong introduced elements of design, such as plane composition, into watercolor paintings. It transformed the traditional watercolor and focused on the form of images. The subjectivity of creation is enhanced significantly.
62cm×52cm, watercolor and gouache, 1980s
61cm×54cm, watercolor and gouache, 1998
97cm×70cm, watercolor and gouache, 2010
The Wishes, created in 1980s, on one hand, highlights the “water”-based features, clear and bright, on the other, presents the trend of design with simple colors and nearly vertical white spaces on the table. In Harmony, the desktop, setting and wall are deliberately painted in planes, which strongly pop out to the viewers. The Thriving, drawn in 2010, is more concise, yet not simple at all. The red roses at the center look more bright and thriving in the dark background. Red roses, black background and white table create the vivid sense of form and contemporary touches.
Ancient Pottery vs New Watercolor
In various art creations, Zhang Yinghong was not satisfied with the clear and fluid watercolor. To present the sense of history of ancient Chinese pottery, he broke the limitations of materials and introduced oil paints to the paintings to create a texture of combined water and oil. At the same time, he broke the traditional rule that black is used with caution. In his pictures, the colors are simple and plain to create a sense of heaviness. He even discarded the forms and introduced rhythms of music to create the images with dots, lines and planes. He was also bold in using water and colors. He deployed strong lines and color planes and integrated music with water and color. Hence he created various “new watercolor” paintings with strong personal features and rich cultural connotations.
Ode to Pottery 1
61cm×55cm, watercolor and gouache, unknown year of creation
81cm×78.5cm, watercolor and gouache, 1998
“The essence of modern paintings comes from the vibration of the inner world.” (said by Zhang Yinghong) The paintings collected at Ningbo Museum of Art of Zhang, no matter they are oriental and poetic small pieces, or trials of flowers with designing ideas, or widely recognized new material experiments, or “new watercolor” paintings in his later years, all originate from this sentence. Zhang Yinghong’s art concept, which comes from “his inner world”, allows him to feel the city in a corner in the big metropolitan, where he painted with delicacy and boldness.