Han Yuchen

Premio “Lorenzo il Magnifico” del Presidente 2019


Lorenzo il Magnifico Special Award from the President


Han Yuchen: a painter and a poet.

A painter and a poet, Han Yuchen expresses himself through historic artistic techniques from China, namely calligraphy and painting with ink on rice paper, as well as photography and oil painting on canvas, originally developed in Europe. Currently, he is a researcher at the China Art Institute, member of the China Artists Association, vice-president of the Hebei Calligraphers Association, honorary member of the Oil Painting Chinese Society, and honorary professor at the Repin Academic Institute of Fine Arts (formerly Russian Academy of Arts) in Saint Petersburg.

Studying and promoting art.

He has served as a deputy of the Xth, XIth, and XIIth National People’s Congresses of the Republic of China. Yet, earlier in years, various unfavourable circumstances had obstructed him in pursuing a career in the arts, ‘particularly the difficult position of his family, regarded as “counter-revolutionary”’ (see S. Mikhaylovkskiy, “Success Come from Concentration and Diligence” in The Realm of Pure. Han Yuchen Oil Painting, National Museum of China, Beijing, 2017). Having experienced hindrance might have fuelled his commitment to studying, practicing, and promoting art by founding the Xingguang society for painting in 1979, and the han Yuchen Art Museum at Handan in 2016.

Han Yuchen’s works around the world

Today Han Yuchen’s works are in prestigious private collections, including those of Nicolas Sarkozy, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Mohamed Shafik Gabr (ARTOC), David Dean (Charterhouse), and Patrick Berko, as well as in the National Museum of Chinese Writing at Beiguan, Anyang, in the province of Henan.

Han Yuchen: a precocious talent.

Han Yuchen was born in Jilin, in the province of Jilin, in 1954. A precocious talent, he started painting large portraits of famous personalities in 1968, while he was working at the propaganda department of Handan railways in the province of Hebei. In 1972 he attended the master Class at Handan, thereby studying under the guidance of his masters, Li Hua and Su Gaoli, both of whom were professors at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. In 1973 he perfected his artistic technique and started experimenting oil painting under the supervision of Liang Yulong, who was also an CAFA professor. In1978 he met famous Chinese artist Zhang Wenxing, of whom he has been a follower for forty years. In 1979 Han Yuchen had his first solo exhibition. In the 1980s and 1990s, while conciliating his passion for painting and work in a different field, he successfully participated in different group exhibitions.

Travelling through China’s regions to Tibet

At the dawn of the new millennium, in 2002, Han Yuchen showed his works spanning painting, calligraphy, and photography at the Handan Museum. In 2004, with Tujia Tavern of Zhangjiajie, he was honoured with the ‘1st May’ Award from the provincial authorities of Hebei. In 2006 he published his first poetry collection, A Feeling of Nostalgia. That same year he made his dream of visiting Tibet come true. He could finally paint on the ‘roof of the world’, which he had only imagined until then while looking at paintings by Dong Xiwen. Travelling to that remote region -through Qinghai, Sichuan, and Xinjiang – has left an indelible mark on Han Yuchen’s art: his oil paintings, which have been displayed and appreciated from east to west, mainly represent Tibetan subjects. The same applies to his photographs, particularly the ‘Snowy Dream’ series, with which he won the Chinese Photography Award in 2012.

Colour, light, and spirituality.

Han Yuchen’s paintings dominated by white tones, against which stand the bright red hues of traditional textile artefacts from central Asia, make the viewer imagine the lands of that region as timeless places whose light, air, and water of stunning purity ignite an intense spiritual fire. Nonetheless, those paintings appear to be reminiscent of the colour experimentation pursued by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917), particularly with the so-called ‘China white’ or zinc white, by the time he was blamed for being influenced by the coeval French school of painting. In that respect, it may be worth remembering that works by Jean-François Millet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot are preserved in the Han Yuchen Art Museum. Also there are some paintings by Francisco Goya, whose mastery in rendering light within painted images certainly inspired Han Yuchen. It can be argued, therefore, that Han Yuchen has crossed boundaries of space and time through painting: once he had assimilated the ‘languages’ of a faraway western world, he invented his own pictorial lexicon, which is intelligible well beyond his beloved Tibet.

Awards and Recognitions

In the years of his maturity, Han Yuchen has been honoured with international recognitions, first and foremost the gold medal that he won in 2013 with Shepherdess at the Salon des Beaux Arts, France, where he also won the bronze medal with Pilgrimage Route the following year.

Still in 2014, Han Yuchen was selected to participate in the XIIth National Fine Art Exhibition in Beijing, where he displayed Brother and Sister. In 2017 he would return to Beijing with a one-man show. Amongst other solo exhibitions of Han Yuchen, mention should be made of those held at the Decorative Arts Museum in Paris, Repin Academic Institute in Saint Petersburg, Brussels, and Lahasa (2016). Following his accomplishment in Tibet’s sacred capital was Han Yuchen’s first solo exhibition in Italy, ‘The Realm of Purity’, held at Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence, in July 2019. The exhibition was curated by Cristina Acidini, ideated by Xiuzhong Zhang, and organised by Zhong Art International in collaboration with the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno and Accademia di Belle Arti of Florence as well as  China’s National Academy of Painting, and also with support from Confindustria Firenze, Fondazione Romualdo del Bianco, and Life Beyond Tourism. Not least, the event was patronised by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, the Regional Authorities of Tuscany, the Municipal Authorities of Florence, and the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Florence.

The Lorenzo il Magnifico Award from the President

Thanks to Zhong Art International and their President, Xiuzhong Zhang, twenty-four large-scale paintings exhibited at Palazzo Medici Riccardi are now on show within the framework of the XIIth Florence Biennale, where Han Yuchen is being bestowed the Lorenzo il Magnifico Special Award from the President ‘for representing, nature, life, the traditions and enchantment of different cultural areas of China through highly evocative painted images. During his long journey across art and poetry, while travelling along the ways from Jilin to He Bei, from Beijiing to Lhasa, he has sensed and interpreted the memory of a millenary past. In doing so, he has combined China’s ancient calligraphy and painting traditions with the European art legacy of oil painting. His work thus offers a vision embracing east and west, past and present, and allows us to perceive a sense of humanity, spirituality and beauty which unites all civilisations’.

Besides, Han Yuchen has made the nexus between painting and poetry manifest by mastering both those disciplines. So did Leonardo da Vinci, who wrote in his famous treatise that ‘painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen’.  ”.

Han Yuchen