桐林 (Tong Lin)

For more than 50 years 桐林 (Tong Lin) has been fascinated by nature’s many manifestations. Born at the end of the 1950’s in Beijing, he studied as a child at Jing Shan Children’s Palace for the Arts, focusing primarily on drawing. He continued his studies into his teenage years through oil painting and color theory under two of China’s master oil painters. Tong went on to put his studies to practical use in the 80’s where he worked as a stage designer for one of Beijing’s premier dance companies. By the 90’s when China’s boarders began to loosen, Tong traveled to Europe and the United States, opening his eyes to Western cultures. During his time of travel, he befriended Russian painters and under their influence, he began developing his own distinct style of landscape painting. In 1987, he created his first oil painting in this new direction called 春讯 (Spring News). It was selected to be apart of China’s first national exhibition for oil painting.

For 15 years, Tong traveled back and forth between Russia and Beijing, meticulously studying a vast array of landscapes and gathering his source material from nature. Whether he paints an image of the serene countryside in the fall, an untouched spring meadow, or the brooding of a winter storm in the distance, Tong’s work remains very quiet, taking his viewer on a journey to a different time and space. His portrayals of nature are often elegant and demure, even when painting a vast scene. His ability to contain his sometimes grandiose landscapes within the borders of a 3 by 3 foot canvas is breathtaking. From afar, his paintings look full and realistic, but up close, his thick and raw brush strokes dotting the canvas almost rhythmically give his subject matter life with abstract qualities. Tong’s inherent understanding and brilliant use of color is harmonious with what nature looks like in its most glorious state.