Cen Long

Chinese, born in 1957, graduated with a master’s degree from Xi An Academy of Fine Arts in 1980. Member of the Chinese Artists Association and an active participant in China’s Eighty-Five New Wave movement. A former oil painting professor at the Hubei Institute of Fine Arts. He is now a professional painter.

His signature artistic approach consists of a simple style, sophisticated brushwork, rigorous composition, and layered and solid coloring. These mastered techniques engender a strength to his paintings; each piece contains a deeper meanings beneath its various surface qualities. Together, these attributes express values that can withstand the test of time and captivate the imagination. His works evoke a sense of clarity and serenity to the viewer, encouraging those who are burdened by the hustle of modern life to re-experience the aesthetic of tranquility, to return to a more fundamental state of being. Due to the influences of his father, Cen Jia Wu, who was a renowned sociologist, art historian, and anthropologist, Cen Long pays special attention to the customs of ethnic minorities and the general public, which has become the foundation to his artistic inspiration. Whether through his paintings or illustrations of picture books, Cen Long always imbues his works with humanistic concern and compassion. The characters in his artwork are often those of a lower class, but they express confidence, genuine happiness, and ease in their demeanor. In our era where art is reigned by the economic demands of the market, his paintings are unquestionably different. His art causes one to consider a lifestyle marked by sincerity and exposes the viewers to the culture of everyday customs; with an alternative language of pure artistic expression that sits apart from the trend of the mainstream art market.

2017 October | venews – Utopia for realists / Metra Lin, perspectives on evolving art

Metra Lin is a young curator who already has an established career in Asia. We met her in Venice in the occasion of the Art Biennale at Palazzo Mora, where she presents The Southern Cross by Cantonese artist Cen Long, part of collective exhibition Personal Structures. An interesting painter, Cen Long takes early XX-century French tradition into his large canvases to show a very personal lyrical language, one that shock the spectator with a conjugation of modern realism and a dimension of suspended temporality. Metra Lin chose this artist to represent not one world but the many worlds of art, which in her precise, deterministic vision go beyond geographic boundaries and develop self-sufficient lives of the greatest artistic freedom.

In Asia, thanks in particular to the power China showed in re- cent years, contemporary art grows exponentially year over year, both in terms of art qua- lity and in terms of market. This has been affecting the hi- storically west-leaning art world. How did you, as a cura- tor, lived these changes?

2017 May | venews – The Southern Cross / Cen Long, his World of Art

The southern cross is a star that shines eternally in Cen Long’s heart. It is small, but nonetheless a bright and magical star; it brings him luck and illuminates his soul in a way that it becomes his muse and guides him on the path of art.

2016 June | ROTHENBURG STADT UND LAND – Fernöstlicher Grauschleier / Doerfler-Galerie bietet Einblicke in die Besonderheit asiatischer Kunst

SCHILLINGSFÜRST – Zeitgenössische asiatische Kunst im Haus der Heimat: Hai Yan Waldmann-Wang, Leiterin der Doerfler-Galerie, hat eine ganz besondere Ausstellung nach Schillingsfürst geholt. Die drei Künstler aus China, Japan und Taiwan gewinnen in ihrer Heimat zunehmend an Bedeutung. Ihre Werke werden für teilweise bis zu mehreren zehntausend Euro gehandelt. Einer von ihnen, Cen Long, ist zudem so etwas wie ein „Bruder im Geiste“ von Ludwig Doerfler.

Wer glühender Verehrer der farbintensiven Pop-Art ist, wird sich mit dieser Ausstellung vielleicht etwas schwer tun. Es lohnt aber allemal, sich einmal gezielt auf eine neue künstlerische Welt einzulassen. Die Werke, die auf den ersten Blick aufgrund ihrer überwiegend in Grau gehaltenen Farbgebung scheinbar melancholisch wirken, entfalten erst beim bewussten Betrachten ihre einnehmende Wirkung.

Denn die vermeintlich düsteren Grautöne sind mit Gelb angemischt, erklärt Hai Yan Waldmann-Wang. Die „Farbe der Hoffnung“ wirkt wie eine aufhellende Ergänzung. Cen Longs Werke sollen nicht herunterziehen, denn er sei „nicht hoffnungslos der Welt gegenüber“, erklärt die Museumsleiterin.

2015 May | FAS 15 x FOCUS

Realism in recent times seems to have become an alternative style of painting. People favors more abstract, deformed, or more decorative or installation art. However, since the appearance of painting, realism has been associated with human survival and evolution, it was never interrupted nor did it ever disappear. People are used to appreciate those painting that interprets what is related to their real life, what is familiar or from and ideal environment. Over the past decades, realistic painting focused on plot, specific objects and character description, as well as religious, fabled and narrative contents. Today, along with advances in transportation and communication, the geographical gap has shrunk; people pay more attention to the spiritual and common emotional expression. Abstract art forms make it easier to reach a shared spiritual satisfaction, because these forms bring greater imagination space than the realism style.

2014 October | ORIENTAL ART MASTER – Cen Long and his Silver Age

Cen Long is like an artist in the Silver Age, who is stuck in the gap of glorious and absurd times. He longs for the glory of the Golden Era while sighing for its recession, knowing that those shines will not come back, yet refusing to follow the crowd; instead, he strives to handedly build his own Silver Age, the transitional age between divine and depravity. Such ambition has kept his painting techniques and sentiments tranquil and interesting, out of tune with our flashy world.

2014 October | Art as Person – Cen Long and his Paintings

Commenting on Cen Long’s art is easy as his paintings are everything of his daily life. They are his life. You can understand his art if you walk into his life. However, commenting on his paintings is not easy as his life is definitely rich and plump. Walking into someone’s daily life is certainly not easy either, not to mention to walk into his life. I am a lucky man though, because of certain reasons, I could walk nearby his daily life and watch some of his life. When I started to write, I felt that interpreting his paintings seems to be redundant as the paintings themselves can explain everything.

2014 October | Mind-Nature Blended, Identity of Object and Self – Artwork Comments on Cen Long

In my mind, Cen Long not only is tremendously devoted to arts and a pioneer who views arts equivalent to life, but also a mentor with deep learning and cultivation, benevolence, rough life experiences and talents. His work was frequently selected to the National Popular Science Exhibition, Chinese Oil Painting Exhibition, the Seventh National Art Exhibition etc., back in the seventies and eighties, and has already revealed outstanding gifts in the oil painting industry with his solid skills and brilliant talents.

2014 October | A Monk Searching for the Purpose of Life

I prefer to describe the feelings I have for master Cen’s works by “open sky, vast land and genuine people”. In his paintings, the high and broad sky is like ancient truths; the solid and warm land embraces all things; and the pure, simple and practical people are our goal of utopia. I personally believe that, Cen Long is not only an artist, a philosopher, but also a monk searching for the purpose of life. While writing this article, I looked at his paintings on my walls, and again I am wondering in the starry universe, sing in the mountains, running on the fields, and greeted with a satisfied smile. Through his paintings, I deeply realized that, a true wealthy life is not in the fame in a pompous world, but in the simple life of contentment and the understanding of love and giving.

2014 April | HUBAI INSTITUDE OF FINE ARTS JOURNAL–Cen Long and his Silver Age

Cen Long is like an artist in the Silver Age, who is stuck in the gap of glorious and absurd times. He longs for the glory of the Golden Era while sighing for its recession, knowing that those shines will not come back, yet refusing to follow the crowd; instead, he strives to handedly build his own Silver Age, the transitional age between divine and depravity. Such ambition has kept his painting techniques and sentiments tranquil and interesting, out of tune with our flashy world.

2010 November | Artco Monthly Magazine – Story About the Ordinary – Discussing Cen Long’s Art Purgatory

The purgatory described within Dante’s Divine Comedy is an environment that all must suffer through before reaching Heaven.  There, the human soul goes through repentance, cultivation, and purification to gain a new life and enter heaven.  It can be said that all my paintings are also going through purgatory’s baptism!   (Self-Portrait)

2010 May | Artist Magazine – Contemporary and Timeless

This Chinese New Year, I sent Cen Long my usual wishes for a happy new year and everlasting success with his artwork.   He replied with a letter stating: “I just want to be an artist that lives up to the standard of art!”  This impressed me very much.  Thinking about his lifelong dedication to creating art, I am humbled and filled with admiration.

Cen Long and His Silver Age

Cen Long took northern farmers, nautical fisherman, the monk and Xinjiang nomadic people as his topics, and creates a self-contained and symbolic ideal world, where his effort in this individual utopia has became nearly religious.

The Singer on the Top of Clouds

Cen Long, an artist from China, is a singer on top of clouds. He praises the ordinary beauty of simpleness, seeks the innocence of the essence of life and is adamant to never be blinded by commercialism. His art works incarnates Dante’s purgatorio, it purifies one’s soul and leads the viewers back to the broad road of simplicity and sincerity.

The Southern Cross – Cen Long, His World of Art

Many have said that listening to Bach’s music is enough to make one believe that cherubs are gracing the sky: it enforces one’s belief in the existence of ethereal bodies. Bach’s music is infused with a pious and ardent quality—whenever I listen to his music, I always indulge in the bliss and elation religion imparts to the soul. On multiple occasions, Cen Long’s artwork has reminded me of such experiences.

Cen Long – The Follower of Light

Why do I call him a follower of light? His paintings have always been suffused with an inner glow, a holy light of kindness. Cen’s earliest motif was the traveling bard, wandering amid depictions of down-to-earth scenes of Northern Chinese agriculture, cultures, and farming habits. These rustic human landscapes brought to light his most frequent theme: the harmony between man and nature lending the strength needed to survive in harsh conditions with only primitive technology. During this period, the light that permeates Cen’s art is one of gentle hope: men find a home in nature and inspire one another with love and solidarity. He paints lives, man and animal both, that live close to the sun on highlands and prairies. Around this time in his artistic career, he told me that he would be satisfied if his artwork, like the sporadic starlight one sometimes sees at night, could touch the heart of even a few.