'To Keep a Peaceful Mind' with Ni Chunlei

'To Keep a Peaceful Mind' with Ni Chunlei

June 17, 2019

Ni Chunlei, an oil painter, was born in 1984 in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province of China. He studied for four years and got a Bachelor Degree in Oil Painting from Xihua University in China. He worked as an art teacher in university but now is a professional oil painter. He has published his own oil painting book "Oil Painting of Ni Chunlei" in 2014, and earned a lot of art prizes in China in the past years.

Artist, Ni Chunlei at work in his studio


What initially drew you towards becoming an artist?

After I got in touch with painting, I have never thought of doing anything else other than painting.

How would you describe your own personal style?

Personal styles… let us leave that for others to judge.

What pushed you in that direction and how can you see your work evolving in the future?

When I feel something, then I start to paint immediately, which I might think as a push to that direction.

"Bronze Series - Seeds", Ni Chunlei, Oil on Canvas, 150cm x 180cm, 2014


What inspires you in your work, is there a driving factor that draws you to the easel?

I am not very clear about that. It is like a magic power that draws me to the easel. Even when I finish one work, I feel quite exhausted but very soon, I will start immediately on the next one.

Are there particular individuals who have encouraged / inspired you along the way, friends, family, teachers, and maybe even other artists?

My professors in university, they all agreed that I am incredibly talented in painting, which encouraged me a lot to continue on this road.

When it comes to creating your work, do you have a preferred medium, certain types of brushes or tools you love to use?

My favorite tool in oil painting is the palette knife. But I like to hide its marks. Using its strength but at the same time trying to hide it - is the way I like to express during my oil painting creation.

"Bronze Series - Holding Pot 002", Ni Chunlei, Oil Painting, 150cm x 180cm, 2011


When it comes to the subject matter of your work, what draws you to those themes?

The original motivation coming to the theme is like “Flipped”, like falling in love.

Could you describe the process behind your art? How do you get from concept to execution?

Take my works “Relics” as example: first I love these Chinese tradition bronze patterns. I created this work with awe, which made it an outstanding and special art work. I worried at the same time while I loved it, as there are so many nice things that were forgotten and lost by people, like Chinese tradition bronze, and I am always thinking how much we still retain. I put a normal Chinese girl in the painting, for a contrast between today and the past.

Could you describe your normal day as an artist? Have you set routines and rituals or is a more a case of when the moment is right you work?

Normally I start my works from noon time. However, I do not have set routines.

"Apricot", Ni Chunlei, Oil Painting, 60cm x 80cm, 2012


When you work, do you focus on one piece at a time until completion or are you working on multiple pieces at the same time?

I focus on one piece at a time until its completion.

How has your art evolved to be where it is today?

It evolves naturally; it develops following my mind and my feelings.

Which of your artworks are you most proud of?

I am proud of each of my paintings. I think each of them is unique and uncopiable.

"Bronze Series - Tripod 2", Ni Chunlei, Oil Painting, 145cm x 180cm, 2010


If you could travel back in time, is there a particular artistic period / era that you would like to have been involved in?

I think now is the best period.

What challenges do you feel the 21st century artist has to overcome?

The challenge, I think is to keep a peaceful mind. When you feel real peace, that is the moment you can really feel something.

Despite having developed your own distinctive style, is there another style of art that you are immediately drawn towards and admire? Why?

Style, to me is quite superficial. I never try to create a style. I think it is more important to respect your mind and express what you really feel.

"Painter's Grandmother", Ni Chunlei, Oil on Canvas, 76cm x 80cm, 2013


We have all heard of the unfinished masterpiece, even Da Vinci labored away at the Mona Lisa for years and years, have you works that are in a continual process of evolution? When working on an artwork do you find it hard to let go? Knowing when enough is enough?

Luckily, I have always know the direction of my painting. Sometimes I find it is hard to continue due to contradictions with my direction. Experience has told me this is because my mind was messed up. To overcome this momentarily block what I need to do is to find real peace. Normally I read books, drink a cup of tea, or water flowers, and then it can be soothed.

Many people see artists as storytellers or advocates for a cause, do you believe that it is an artist’s responsibility to shine a light on a particular subject / theme, or do you create purely for the sake of expression your creative nature?

I create artworks when I feel something. I do not intentionally advocate for something.

What are you working on at the moment?

The works I am working on is named “the craftsman”. It is an ordinary man making pottery. He is in the lower class of the society, and no one knows him.

"Relic Series - The Girl with Jeans Jacket", Ni Chunlei, Oils, 150cm x 180cm, 2016


When is your next exhibition? Is it a solo or group exhibition? Could you tell us a little about the exhibition, when and where it is?

My next exhibition is in Chongqing city in July. It is the China National Art Exhibition, which is a group exhibition.

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