Yan Ping: Deal with the Eternal


There are far fewer contemporary Chinese female artists than male artists, especially painters. That is a simple fact substantiated for the most part in the marketplace but also, statistically, by the number of female artists whose work is exhibited in museums. Yan Ping is an exception. She is a woman who has had a successful career as a working artist and as a teacher. I first became aware of her large, expressionist paintings in the major art auctions throughout China in the late 1990s although her work had been exhibited in museums since 1993, and she had won numerous awards in public exhibitions.


Yan Ping 

The first time we met was in 2005 at her studio on the campus of Renmin University of China, Beijing, where she was a professor at the Xu Beihong Art Institute. At that first meeting, I remember thinking that Ping was such a small woman and her canvases were huge, full of energy and power, so how did she accomplish these works? I discovered that she is full of energy that manifests in the power one feels in her paintings. She was animated, moving constantly, shuffling around canvases twice her size.

The painting she was working on at that time, Nobody Else but Us, showed a single figure from behind, caught in a dance step. I was not surprised when Ping told me it was a self-portrait and that it stemmed from her interest in small theatrical troupes. In fact, this is the title of a series of paintings on the subject that she began in earnest in 2000 and continues to explore today.


 Detail from Nobody Else but Us, 2005

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