Developing a Visual Language that Combines Western and Chinese Painting


Zhao, Dongming. (2020-05). Developing a Visual Language that Combines Western and Chinese Painting. Theses and Dissertations Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Collections.

Developing a Visual Language that Combines Western and Chinese Painting
Zhao, Dongming
Art Chinese painting Combine Fabric drawing In-Between Oil painting
Art & Design
Subject Category:
Art education; Art criticism; Asian history

Traditional Eastern and Western paintings have developed separate art forms reflective of the distinct histories, cultures, religions and geographic locations of China and the US. There are obvious differences in style due in part to distinctions in techniques, materials and the ways each culture develops and prioritizes thought and expression into the artwork. Under the relatively recent influence of global economic integration, Eastern and Western artists are drawing on each other for inspiration at an unprecedented rate. For contemporary artists, whether an artwork belongs to Eastern or Western tradition seems less important. This is true for my work, but how I evolved into this understanding came through my artistic practice.

My artistic practice is focused on reconciling my Chinese roots with the expressive freedom of contemporary Western artistic expression. I create works from my observations and experiences in both cultures. My art records my real experience and understanding. I use the human figure as a vehicle to carry my soul because a naked body can hide nothing. I work with subject matter depicting opposites—things in a state of imbalance. Opposites allow for strong visual contrast and depict my beliefs. I believe our visible world (Yang) is controlled by an invisible power (Yin). A healthy society can keep the balance with the invisible power. Once this balance is broken, the invisible power will push the whole society back to the right track sooner or later by punishing or warning.

Towards finding an authentic creative voice I have experimented with materials of Chinese painting and Western oil painting. I have explored what the materials of each tradition offer and understand the limits. I found that the use of fabric as a new medium allowed me to break the boundary between Eastern and Western art. It is a material that allows me to combine Chinese painting with oil painting.

In my work one tradition does not dominate over the other. My practice belongs to both traditions and neither. My work is “in-between.” I call it “The Third Art.” This new art form is what I want in my heart. This thesis includes many examples of my “Combination” art practice developed during my MFA study.

masters, M.A., Art & Design -- University of Idaho - College of Graduate Studies, 2020-05
Major Professor:
Keim, Delphine
Hu, Xiao; Johnson, Aaron
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