Kong Baiji

1932-2018, Shanghai China

Introduction

Kong Baiji is recognized worldwide for his Dunhuang paintings of graceful bodhisattvas. In 2009 the US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Shanghai's mayor Han Zheng in front of Kong Baiji's large mural at the Xijiao State Guest House, China's equivalent of Camp David, in Shanghai.

Born in Shanghai in 1932, Kong Baiji is a gifted self-taught painter. In 1956 he began teaching Fine Arts at the Shanghai Drama Academy and became head of the department in 1976. His first solo exhibition was held in Shanghai in 1964, and by 1979 he was considered an esteemed painter, likened to Zhu Qizhan, Yan Wenliang and Jui Guoliang. From 1979 to 1983 he made frequent visits to the Buddhist caves at Dunhuang in Gansu, and the Yongle Palace Murals in Shanxi, drawing inspiration from China’s rich heritage. Subsequently, Kong created a series of Dunhuang Images depicting graceful bodhisattvas using oil paints on rice paper, a revolutionary approach in Chinese painting. The series was well received on the world stage and was exhibited in Japan and the United States. In 1982, he took part in a joint exhibition, Chinese Modern Paintings, which travelled to various museums in the United States. In 1986, he settled in the United States, and further experimented with incorporating elements of Western art in his creative practices. Harvard University organised one of his first solo exhibitions in the United States in 1988, only two years after his arrival. He passed away in Shanghai in 2018 at the age of 86.

Alisan Fine Arts was the first gallery in Hong Kong to exhibit Kong’s works in a solo show in 2006. The year before, the Shanghai Art Museum held a solo exhibition of his works. He has staged solo exhibitions at the Fukuoka Art Museum in Kyushu, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, and the National Art Museum of China in Beijing. His paintings have been collected by Harvard University; First National Bank of Chicago; Fukuoka Art Museum; Peace Memorial Museum; Hokkaido Art Museum; Zhejiang Art Museum; National Art Museum of China, Beijing; Shanghai Art Museum. 


BIOGRAPHY
1932            Born in Shanghai, China

1944-48       Studied traditional Chinese painting with a master

1952             Graduated from Secondary School of Commercial Art, Shanghai, China

1956             Taught Fine Arts at the Shanghai Drama Academy, China

1966             Paintings destroyed during the Cultural Revolution

1976             Professor and Head of the Fine Arts Department, Shanghai Drama Academy, China

1979&83      Visited Buddhist cave at Dunhuang in Northwest China & the Yongle Palace, Shanxi, China

1986             Listed in the Japanese “Who’s Who in Art”,Emigrated to United States

2005             Commissioned to paint a huge oil painting on paper for the conference centre of the Xijiao State Guest House, Shanghai, China

2008             Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin with Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng in front of Kong Baiji’s large mural at Xijiao State Guest House in Shanghai. Industrialist Terry Guo and Shanghai Vice-Mayor Yang Xiong also at the venue.

2009             U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng in front of Kong Baiji's large mural at the Xijiao State Guest House in Shanghai

2018             Passed away in Shanghai at the age of 86


SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2016
  •  The Life in Blossom, Hailan Gallery, Shenzhen, China 
2012   
  • Retrospective Exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
2007   
  • Shanghai Art Museum, China
2006   
2005   
  • Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China
  • Shenzhen Art Museum, Shenzhen, China
2000-3  
  • Kudo Art Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
1999   
  • Arts of Pacific Asia Show, New York, USA
1998
  • Gifu Art Museum, Gifu, Japan
1996  
  • Wall Street Art Museum, New York, USA
1993   
  • Tagashimaya Art Gallery, Nagoya; Maruzen Gallery, Tokyo; Gifu Art Gallery, Gifu, Japan
1992   
  • Peace Memorial Museum, Hiroshima, Japan
1991   
  • Shangari Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
  • Fukuoka Art Museum, Kyushu, Japan
1990   
  • Sogetsu Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
1989   
  • Hanart Gallery, New York, USA
  • Central Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
1988  
  • Art Waves Gallery; Ronin Gallery, New York, USA
1987  
  • Queensborough College Art Gallery, New York, USA
  • Harvard University, Boston, USA
1985  
  • Travelling exhibition, 16 cities, Japan
1982     
  • Smith College Museum of Art, North Hampton, USA
1981   
  • Travelling Exhibition by the Japanese Contemporary Artist Association, 15 cities, Japan
1980   
  • Dunhuang Images, Shanghai, China
1964   
  • Portraits of Peasants, Shanghai Arts Hall, Shanghai, China

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2018
2011   
  • Post-Mao Dreaming: Chinese Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, USA
2010
  • Shanghai Expo, Shanghai, China
2009     
  • Post-Mao Dreaming: Chinese Contemporary Art, Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, USA
2007
  • Infinite Shades: Contemporary Chinese Ink, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA
2001   
  • Modern Paintings in the World, New York, USA
1999   
  • Art Fair, New York, USA
  • Sotheby's International Modern Paintings, New York, USA
1997   
  • 25 Years of Chinese Art, London, UK
  • Spring International Art Exhibition, New York, USA
1996   
  • Contemporary Chinese Art Exhibition, London, UK
1994  
  • Contemporary & Modern Chinese Painting Exhibition, Discovery Museum, Connecticut, USA
1987 
  • Beyond the Open Door: Contemporary Paintings from The People's Republic of China (the first North American exhibition of contemporary Chinese art after the Cultural Revolution), USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, USA
  • Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York, USA
1984
  • Joint Exhibition with Qiu Deshu, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, USA
1982   
  • Modern Chinese Painting Exhibition, Smith College Museum of Art, Massachusetts; Boston City Hall; Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA
1979  
  • Joint Exhibition of Yan Wenliang, Zhu Qizhan & Jui Guoliang, Shanghai, China
1978   
  • The Twelve Artists Show, Shanghai, China

SELECTED PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

Lincoln Center, New York, USA
Harvard University, Boston, USA
Queenborough College, New York, USA
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA
First National Bank of Chicago, Chicago, USA
Kinpusen Temple, Nara, Japan
Sogetsu Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
Fukuoka Art Museum, Kyushu, Japan
Fukuoka University, Kyushu, Japan
Peace Memorial Museum, Hiroshima, Japan
Hokkaido Art Museum, Hokkaido, Japan
Gifu University, Gifu, Japan
Fukui University, Fukui, Japan
National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China
Shenzhen Art Museum, Shenzhen, China
Xijiao State Guesthouse, Shanghai, China
Zhejiang Art Museum, Hangzhou, China
Fujian Art Museum, Fuzhou, China
Hubei Art Museum, Wuhan, China