Nie Ou encountered Western art at an early age but initially avoided traditional Chinese art. She attended the Beijing Youth Palace, a preparatory school that incorporated Western art into the curriculum. In 1969, she was sent to a small farm in Datong as part of the Cultural Revolution agenda of re-educating urban youth. Based on her experiences in Datong, peasant life became a prominent subject in her work. Only after her return to Beijing did Nie express interest in learning Chinese painting techniques. Nie uses an abstract style to merge contemporary peasant figures with traditional ink techniques and landscape elements. Her oil paintings, such as the two in our collection, contradict the traditional definition of Chinese painting as ink on paper.
Nie Ou was born in Shenyang in 1948 and moved to Beijing with her family in 1953. Nie received her first art lessons at the Beijing Municipal Children’s Palace in 1954. From 1960-1966 Nie was studied Chinese Brush Ink Painting at the Beijing Municipal Children’s Centre. Nie’s education was unexpectedly interrupted during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) and in 1969 she was sent to a farm in Yanbei for re-education.
On returning to Beijing, Nie expressed a desire to learn traditional Chinese painting. She enrolled at the Beijing Academy of Fine Arts to complete a Postgraduate course in Traditional Chinese Brush Ink painting under the tutelage of Li Keran. After graduating in 1981, Nie joined the Beijing Painting Academy as a Professional Painting Master. Nie also joined the China Artists Association and was elected Director.
Nie’s works take their inspiration from her time spent in Yanbei during the revolution and mixes the contemporary villagers with the traditional style of ink drawings. Living the life of peasants, they worked long, strenuous hours but Nie ultimately found piece of mind in the remote land. Her paintings rarely feature any traces of city life. Her favoured subjects involve serene country activities such as a family working together in the fields or a child tickling the ear of her sleeping grandfather.
Children also feature heavily in Nie’s works, reflecting her both her personal experience and her view of the world through innocent eyes and a child-like heart. Using spontaneous brushwork and infrequent areas of colour, Nie manages to depict the most rudimentary and unsullied form of the images. Nature is reduced to its simplest form, as if being seen by a child. The unique appeal of Nie’s paintings is their ability to remind us of long forgotten childhoods.
Nie’s works have been exhibited frequently throughout the US, Europe and Asia and have been selected into may public and private collections, including at the British Museum.
A Selection of Important Modern and Contemporary Chinese Artists, Fine Arts Asia, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
Group Exhibition of Contemporary Chinese and Korean Artists, China, Korea
Open Times National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
2000 - 2001
Group Exhibition of 6 Chinese Artists, China Academy of Chinese Painting, Beijing, China
Group Exhibition of 21 Chinese Masters, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
Ninth National Art Exhibition China
Group Exhibition of China Academy of Chinese Painting, Beijing, China
Paintings by Chinese Women Artists, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
Modern Chinese Ink Painting and Sculpture Travelling Exhibition, organized by the Cultural Department of Mainland China Government, France, UK, Austria
Modern Chinese Paintings, A Selection from Beijing, Hangzhou & Sichuan, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
Exhibition of Chinese Water Ink Painting USA
Seventh National Art Exhibition China
First Exhibition of Chinese Oil Paintings, Beijing, China
Exhibition of Chinese Ink Paintings, USA
Hsiung Shih Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
Contemporary Chinese Ink Painting Exhibition, Hong Kong
Sixth National Art Exhibition China, China
The works of postgraduates of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China
National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China
China Academy of Chinese Painting, Beijing, China
China Artists Association, China
New South Wales Art Gallery, Sydney, Australia
The British Museum, London, United Kingdom