Monday, August 16, 2010

Chinese artist He Qi

He Qi (pronounced “Huh Chee”) is a contemporary Chinese Christian artist that paints primarily biblical themes and scenes. However, he combines these stories with Chinese cultural elements drawn from the colorful folk art of the Chinese countryside, and rural Tibet. In addition to these sources, he also references the iconography of the Western Middle Ages and Modern Art. If you aren't familiar with his art and story, click here to read more about the symbolism in his work and his own personal journey.

For example, I love how he incorporates the Chinese dragon into his depiction of Moses: “'A dragon is a symbol for power, for the emperor. Chinese emperor clothes always were full of dragons,' He Qi says. In his code, the dragon in the belly indicates the power and unction of the Holy Spirit.”

Unfortunately, like many other Christian artists, the churches of Qi's own country don't appreciate the Chinese character of his work, and prefer instead to stick to European models of Christian art. In an interview, Qi recounts how a Chinese pastor requested that he paint a mural in the pastor's church. When Qi showed him one of his images as a suggestion, the pastor responded, “No, it's too Chinese.” But thankfully, Qi's students at Nanjing Theological Seminary are more open to his ideas. And they will be the future leaders of the Church in China.

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