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 Ding Shang  (1954 - )

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Lived/Active: California / China      Known for: figure

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Young Ballerina
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A figure and portrait painter, primarily of female subjects, he has Chinese heritage and became an American resident.

In China, he was the youngest of six children and grew up happily in the city of Kunming, but his life was interrupted by the turmoil of the Chinese Revolution. As a twenty year old painter and soldier from China, he caught the attention for his skill in capturing battlefield scenes from Madame Mao when he was exhibiting in Beijing in 1974. Her support led to making him famous and to special encouragement from professors from the Central Art Academy where he got an undergraduate art degree.

the youngest student ever admitted, he earned a Master's Degree in 1981 from the Zhejian Academy of Fine Arts and then became an associate professor at the People's Liberation Army Academy of Art. When the American sculptor, Chapel visited the campus, he invited Shang to the United States.

In 1988, he left his wife and daughter in China and went to Colorado where Chapel lived and arranged an exhibit for him with a Chinese benefactor in Los Angeles contributing the frames. The show was a great success, and struggling with bureaucrats, he finally got his wife and daughter to America where the three settled in Southern California.

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, II:
Shang Ding was born in Kunming, China, the youngest of six children. His father was a journalist and his mother a factory union leader. He remembers becoming intrigued by painting at the age of three, with his brother guiding his early efforts. At first his father opposed this fascination with painting, but soon recognized his son's talent and became very supportive.

During the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960's, many journalists were imprisoned, among them Ding's father. Ding was fourteen when his parents were arrested and held for three years, an event that changed his life dramatically. Where he was once free to play with the other children, he now felt different from the others and, not knowing when his parents might return, knew he must secure a future for himself. Ding became even more dedicated to his study of art.

At seventeen, Ding joined the army. At night, while everyone else was sleeping, he would work at his painting under the sheets, using a flashlight. He worked at the front lines of several battles in southern China. This was after the United States had pulled out of Viet Nam, and China was at war with the North Vietnamese. Eight years of painting and working with other soldiers, never receiving a promotion, gave Ding a deep understanding of ordinary people and their perseverance in the face of hardship and fear. His works of soldiers at war elicited the best of his talent, strengthened his character, and inspired him to continue. His paintings also began to win awards.

In 1974, Ding entered a show in Beijing where Mao Zedong's wife noticed his work. She was greatly impressed that such talent could come from a 20-year-old youth and drew great attention to his work. Professors from the Central Art Academy were equally impressed, and Ding began his path to fame. He continued his training, eventually receiving a Masters Degree from the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts. He then became an Associate Professor at the Peoples Liberation Army Academy of Art, and delivered regular lectures at the Chinese Central Academy of Fine Arts.

In December of 1984, Ding met an American sculptor named Chapel, who had been invited to China to lecture on American bronze sculpture. The two men began a friendship that would change Ding's life. Ding had read about the West, and it was his dream to study art there. In November of 1988, leaving his wife and young daughter behind, he came to the United States to begin a new career. "Life here is always new and changing; the culture is new and people are not afraid of change. China has such deep history and change does not always come easily." In China, Ding had stories to tell about a hard life, but his expression was limited. Now he wants to tell an international story, something that everyone can understand and relate to.


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