Everlasting Red Flag
In 1974, Hongnian returned to Beijing and soon became a rising star. As the youngest artist ever to be appointed to the Beijing Art Academy, he created large-scale oil paintings that caught the public’s attention and heart. His innovative oils helped develop “Scar Art”, an important artistic movement in China that examined the painful memories of the Cultural Revolution. Two of his “Scar Art” paintings, No! And We Were Young Then, were acquired by China’s National Art Museum for their permanent collection. In 1979 he was elected to the All China Artists Association. He was the youngest artist at that time to have achieved the honor. In 1984, his painting, Preparing for winter, one of the first oil paintings depicting Tibetan life, won the Bronze Medal. It was also acquired by the National Art Museum for their permanent collection. At the same time, Hongnian was accepted to the extremely selective Central Art Academy’s Master Degree program.
In 1985, Zhang came to the United State to continue his study in art. He became involved with New York’s Grand Central Gallery and was one of the artists in the gallery’s successful 1986 show, “Realism from China.” It was the first show to introduce Chinese oil painting to the Western world. Art News and CBS were among the media groups that acknowledged the show with reports and interviews.
After moving to Woodstock, New York in 1991, Zhang continued to work in the realism tradition, yet expanding his subjects from Tibetan to a wide range that include Chinese and American historical paintings, and contemporary American subjects. He has taught in various art schools, including the New York Academy and the Woodstock School of Art. His works have appeared in numerous publications, including National Geographic Magazine in October 2001, July 2003, February 2004 and July 2005. Four of his Chinese historical paintings were acquired by National Geographic Society and included in their collection. Zhang and his wife, Lois Woolley, co-wrote The Yin Yang of Painting, which presents his unique artistic approach and style for oil painting.