Angel (Dong Wenjie)

Dong Wenjie (Angel) was born in Baishan, China, in 1970 to a Chinese father (railroad worker) and a Manchurian mother (teacher). From an early age, Angel was recognized as having a remarkable talent for painting and started her formal art training at the age of fourteen when she was sent to Shandong province in Eastern China to live and study with her father’s artist brother.

As an apprentice in her uncle’s studio, Angel was immersed in an apprentice-mentor relationship more typical of the European Renaissance than of the modern art school. For four years, Angel was trained in depth in the classic school, and the importance of each incremental stroke. For the first 2 years of her training, Angel did nothing but copy old master paintings, and painted and repainted details of light and form following an age-old tradition. At the age of 17, Angel was finally allowed to paint from live models, and her work won a number of youth competitions in Shandong Province, and, importantly, a scholarship to study art at the prestigious Xian Art Academy.

While in the ancient Chinese capital of Xian, Angel slowly developed her own figurative style, borrowing from the asthetic of the elegance of historical court-life in the Qing Dynasty. Upon graduation, Angel began her life long collaboration with Xie Qiu Wa - now her husband, and has slowly become recognized as one of the leading lights of China’s Neo-Realist movement. In recent years, Angel, has had two-man exhibitions (together with Xie) in Portland, Calgary, Las Vegas and New Orleans and is currently one of the best-known Asian painters in North America.

Angel paints with a passion and modesty that is uniquely Asian, and she strives to capture the veiled looks that communicate much meaning. “The ideas and spirituality that lie at the core of traditional Asian culture are important to my work. I want to explore the unsaid rather than the said – I want to paint an oasis of reflection, and celebrate the small joys of life. In particular, I want to capture the warm but quiet feeling of anticipation”. It is with this gentle purpose that she hopes to reintroduce through her paintings, an Asian tradition of philosophy and beauty that has gone neglected, if not forgotten, over the last half century in China.

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