Chen Jianghong

Portrait Chen Jianghong
© Ali Ghandtschi

Chen Jianghong was born in the Chinese port city Tianjin in 1963 and grew up during the Cultural Revolution. He studied painting from 1979 to 1982 in his home town and completed his studies in Beijing in 1987 at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts. He has lived since then in France, where he works as a freelance painter and illustrator of books, which have been translated into more than ten languages to date.

Chen Jianghong’s international fame is due largely to his picture books. In »Zhong Kui« (2001; tr. The horrors of evil) Chen skillfully evokes the atmosphere of the theatre, transferring it to the two-dimensional level of a book allowing its pages to become the stage for an allegory of justice and truth. »Le cheval magique de Han Gan« (2004; En. »The Magic Horse of Han Gan«, 2006) is about the legend of Han Gan, an 8th century Chinese artist whose paintings of horses one day come to life. The striking and colourful compositions are a parable of power, responsibility and the miracle of art: »Le Prince tigre« (2005; tr. The tiger prince) is an enchantingly illustrated and fascinating story about the mother-son relationship between a little prince and a tigress. »Petit Aigle« (2001; En. »Little Eagle«, 2007) tells the tale of a young boy who is taught the secrets of eagle boxing by Master Yang, a famous Chinese wise man. Chen’s autobiographical »Mao et moi« (2008; En. »Mao and Me«, 2008) is about his childhood, during which he was strongly and lastingly influenced by his grandfather. The »FAZ« said of the book: »a stroke of genius in the form of a picture book« and nothing less than Chen’s »masterpiece – the most personal, most thrilling and the wisest in a long series of books which could all justifiably be called masterpieces.« The book »Le petit pêcheur et le squelette« (2013; tr. The Little Fisherman and the Skeleton) has appeared after a five-year publishing break by Chen Jianghong. Chen’s illustrations are characterised by an impressive dynamism as well as by the combination of classical Chinese painting with modern Western imagery.

His paintings have been exhibited in various galleries and museums in Europe, Asia and America. To date he has written and illustrated eleven of his own books and provided illustrations for more than twenty works by other authors. His books have been awarded numerous important prizes, including the Prix Sorcières (2004), the German Prize for Youth Literature (2005). Chen Jianghong has lived in in Paris since 1987 and since 2011 has had a studio in Berlin.