Xiaogang Zhu Biography
Xiaogang Zhu is known for his mastery with the gouache medium. He focuses on landscapes of places with which he is familiar - cities in China and the Yangtze River, Washington State and Arizona. Occasionally he works in oil, but primarily he paints in gouache, a water base opaque medium.
About his work, the artist writes: "I don't want to be arrogant, but I think my paintings are special, and I put a lot of myself into them…it is the most important thing for me to catch the moment of beauty of light and color. The subject matter is always secondary, although my feelings seem to link more with my hometown landscape from China."
"As a matter of fact, since I'm more interested in color, I treat almost any object as color blocks, shapes or dots. I concentrate more on pursuing the right relationship among those color blocks, instead of trying to paint each individual object. In order to pursue the right harmonic color relationship, I need to work very hard to get those soft, subtle, and close values and very specific tones. Since the complementary color, and cool and warm color relationships are always very specific, if a little bit is missing, it can make a big difference. This is something always amazing and challenging to me. The other aspects of my painting, such as brush work, composition, subject matter, and medium, all serve my own approach and capture the moment's harmonic color."
Xiaogang Zhu earned his bachelor's degree in Art and Design at the Suzhou Institute of Silk Technology and his master's in Art History at Nanjing Art Academy. He spent seven years as an art professor, graphic artist and textile designer. Educated during the time of the Cultural Revolution, when innovative thought was banned, Zhu had no awareness of impressionism, yet his landscapes naturally evolved into it. He came to the United States in the early 1990s, and according to a recent feature article about him in Art Talk Magazine, people are now buying everything he can produce. He says he likes working in the US because he can do less teaching and more painting.
Today, he lives in Shelton, Washington with his wife and son, and is an instructor of art at Evergreen State College and South Puget Sound College, both in Olympia, Washington. He participates in many exhibitions and one-man shows throughout the nation, and in China. In April 1995, Zhu was awarded the "High Winds" Medal in the 128th annual exhibition of the American Watercolor Society.