Centenary anniversary celebrating artist famous for New Year's paintings

A centenary celebration of one of China's most renowned artists is currently underway at the River South Art Center.
Ti Gong

One of Zhang Daxin's New Year's paintings

A centenary celebration of one of China’s most renowned artists is currently underway at the River South Art Center.

The exhibition is the brainchild of Zhang Chi, daughter of Zhang Daxin, as a tribute to her father on what would have been his 100th birthday.

Zhang Chi remembers as a little girl, much to her chagrin, how her father made her sister and her pose in front of the camera for hours just for him to take pictures and draw later. At that time she had no idea what was going on.

Yet, the snaps, pictures and drawings of those two little girls with chubby faces became a nationwide phenomenon that swept the country after appearing at a New Year’s painting exhibition in the 1950s.

Consequently, their pictures were stamped into posters, hot-water pots and washbasins and became famous throughout China. 

Now a special exhibition featuring New Year's paintings created by Zhang Danxin, who died in 2009, and ink-wash sketches by both the father and daughter is running at River South Art Ceter.

Zhang Chi, now in her 60s, says it is the best way to celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of her father.

“It is a pity that many of our childhood pictures that my father shot were lost under the erosion of time,” Zhang says regretfully. “I only remember he was so strict that he adjusted my postures from time to time.”

But today, these are the sweet moments and memories for her.

As her father wished, Zhang Chi began to learn ink-wash painting at the age of 7. Now she has established herself as an artist in her own right.

“I like to ‘dance with the nature’,” she says with a smile. “I wanted to reflect the movement that nature endows on me.”

Unlike some of her peers who prefer to isolate themselves in a studio for creation, Zhang chooses to be close to nature. Every year, she travels extensively to sketch.

“Believe it or not, I have climbed the Yellow Mount nine times in the past few years,” she says. “It (the mountain) seems to be a part inside me. Every time I go there, I feel so excited and want to use my brush to paint.”

Besides the splendid natural scenes in China, Zhang also traveled to Brazil, Argentina, Canada and Japan to capture the best of nature in her heart.

“Frankly speaking, it is not easy to be a female landscape artist, because it is always risky to climb a steep mountain,” she explains. “But I also have my advantage, as female landscape artists are more sensitive and direct in expressing their emotions.”

Exhibition details

Date: Through November 28, 10am-5pm
Address: River South Art Center, 1247 Nansuzhou Rd

Ti Gong
Ti Gong

Zhang Chi's landscape painting

Ti Gong
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