Li Decai: The first person to hang a Chinese mural in Van Gogh’s hometown (photo)


In the history of European murals, this is the first traditional style mural painted by Chinese, and it is the pride not only of Chinese, but of the entire Oriental.

If Austria is the capital of music, then the Netherlands is recognized as the country of painters; It has not only produced world-famous painters Lumber and Van Gogh, but also has one of the highest number of painters, with more than 6,000 painters registered in Rotterdam alone. Of course. In the Netherlands painting alone could not survive, so the government had to buy a work from a painter every year. It is said that one is to fund the continuation of painting by domestic painters, and the other is to commemorate the famous Dutch painter Van Gogh, who was snubbed during his lifetime. Because this world-famous master painter sold only two paintings during his lifetime, one of which was bought by his beloved brother. And now everyone knows that Van Gogh’s works are the most expensive in the world, which is also the pride of the Dutch. Perhaps it is for this reason that the Netherlands is particularly fond of painting. It can be said that Dutch painting has a pivotal role and influence in Europe and even the entire West.

However, on September 9, 1993, something happened that shocked the Dutch and even the entire European art scene. In the mural column of buildings in the Katlay district of Rotterdam, which has always displayed the art of European modernist painting, there is a traditional Chinese painting entitled “Vigorous Festivals and Lingyun” with a height and width of 2 meters: between the stubborn stones, the bamboo knots stand tall and soar straight to the nine sky, symbolizing people’s indomitable spirit of striving for progress and indomitable. There is also an inscription poem next to the painting: “The rock cracks and stones rise up tender roots, and the humility sees the sentiment; Suddenly, a spring thunderstorm, choose to wear the clouds on the blue sky. “This painting combines poetry and calligraphy and painting, and is a typical Chinese literati painting. This was specially presented by the Rotterdam City Government to Chinese residents in the Catlair District in order to thank the Chinese for their contribution to the Deer Market. It was carefully researched by the Rotterdam Art Center and specially selected by Mr. Li Decai, a famous Chinese painter currently living in the Netherlands. In the history of European murals, this is the first traditional Chinese style painting painted by Chinese, and it is the pride of not only Chinese, but also the pride of the entire Oriental. At the same time, it is also an important contribution to the cultural exchange between the East and the West.

As the central figure of this activity, what kind of person is Mr. Li Decai, the author of this traditional Chinese mural? Why did the Lushi Art Center choose him to paint murals in the Katlay District among the many Chinese painters?


“I look at Samsung’s location every morning, get up at about 4 o’clock, and go into my cold, humble studio to paint. This seems to others to be very hard and tiring, but for me it is the greatest happiness and enjoyment”—— Recalling the past, Li Decai said.

Li Decai, character dashi, number Tianshi. Born in 1943 in Tongliao City, Inner Mongolia. At the age of 7, under the guidance of his maternal grandfather Qu Youling, he began to learn traditional Chinese painting, and after his death, he embarked on the road of self-learning, and has never been taught by any famous contemporary master. In 1960, Mr. Li was admitted to the Inner Mongolia Art Institute with excellent results, and all of the applicants were admitted to the Chinese painting major. A year later, due to work needs, he changed his major to stage art design. When talking about this past, Mr. Li said with emotion: “This is a big blow to me, and every day in class is the basic course of Western painting.” And I don’t paint Chinese for a day and it’s very unbearable. The weather in Inner Mongolia was cold, and the country was also difficult at that time. In order to save coal, classes are concentrated in one classroom, and the other classroom is empty. I cleaned up the classroom and painted in it; But because the weather was too cold, the frost on the wall was more than an inch thick, and when I drew on the rice paper on the wall with a brush, the frozen tip actually scratched the rice paper. I had to go into the garbage to pick up coal cores, warm the classroom, and then enter my own world of painting. I like Saturdays and Sundays the most, because the time from Saturday night to Sunday is all my own, and I can paint in the cold room to my heart’s content. The school usually turns off the lights on time and goes to bed, and no one is allowed to violate it, but there is no limit on the time to get up in the morning. I look at the location of Samsung every morning, get up at about 3-4 o’clock, and enter the studio to paint, which seems very hard and tiring to others, but it is the greatest happiness and enjoyment for me. ”

In 1964, Mr. Li graduated with honors from Inner Mongolia Art Institute with a major in stage art design. He has successively worked as an art designer in Inner Mongolia Humeng Song and Dance Troupe and Baotou City Song and Dance Troupe; Later, he was admitted to the Central National Song and Dance Troupe as a stage art designer with excellent results. Due to his solid foundation in Western painting and his skillful skills in Chinese painting, Mr. Li boldly innovated and soared freely in the field of stage art design, and soon became the main force in the troupe. In the past, when a show was held in the group, 5-6 people were always borrowed from outside, and even the set made in this way could not satisfy the director. After Mr. Li came, he designed and painted all the time, whether it was design drawings or large sets, he used Chinese painting techniques in one go, coupled with the artistic environment of Chinese painting poetry, which was often appreciated by the director and praised by the audience. The programs designed and staged by Mr. Li include “Rainbow” (choreographed and directed by Jia Zuoguang), “Reba on the Grassland” (choreographed and directed by Omega), “Spirit of the Sparrow” (written and directed by Yang Liping), “Big Green Tree” (choreographed and directed by Xu Wenling), “Daughter of Fire” (choreographed by Gong Jilong and Zhang Zhenying), “Birds and Flowers” (choreographed and directed by Yu Liqun) and the Korean dance “Rainbow Cloud” and so on.

Mr. Li devoted himself to Chinese painting and was fascinated by Chinese painting; This was quite incomprehensible at the time, and even said to be unprofessional. At that time, everyone in the group ran their own factories to work, because they could get bonuses for their work, but Mr. Li did not go. At that time, although life was very difficult and everyone needed money, Mr. Li not only did not earn money, but spent more money and time to study Chinese painting.


Todo Japan held a solo exhibition, and Mr. Shizumoto Kio, Minister of Self-Government of Japan, personally inscribed the title of the exhibition. Prime Minister and Prime Minister of Japan, Yasuhiro Nakasone, presented a flower blue to the exhibition.

In 1987, Li Decai was invited to give lectures in Japan and hold a solo exhibition. In the beginning, a building company was responsible for reception; However, Mr. Li soon discovered that the club was not specialized in cultural communication, and the commercial atmosphere was too strong, and even Mr. Li painted anything; There were also strict restrictions on how much to be made, and cooperation was in crisis and could not continue. At this time, Mr. Hisao Ishino, president of the Japan-China Ink Painting Association (former member of the House of Representatives), took the initiative to serve as Mr. Lee’s identity guarantor and arranged him in Oko Town, which is a beautiful town in Japan. Since then, Mr. Lee has had the opportunity to enjoy Japan’s famous waterfalls, Fukuroda Falls and the picturesque scenery around Oko Town. Here, he created works on Japanese landscapes such as “Fukuroda’s Waterfall”, “Tsukiji Falls”, “Yoshino Sakura”, “Yazuma Mountain”, and “Yagochi Mountain Smoke and Rain”, which are very popular with Japanese people. Some works were bought before they could participate in the exhibition.

In 1988, at the “Li Decai’s Masterpieces Exhibition” held to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the conclusion of the Japan-China Treaty of Amity and Peace, Mr. Fujita Suzuki, the mayor of Takagi City, Japan, saw Mr. Li’s works and appreciated them very much. In order to show his support, he personally offered to be Mr. Li’s identity guarantor, and established the “Li Decai Support Association” in Gaodi City to specifically support his artistic activities during his time in Gaodi City. Mr. Lee lives in a free seaside apartment provided by support member Kazuhiko Watanabe, and he can see the vast ocean from his standing on the lanai. During his one-year stay here, Mr. Li fully appreciated the wind and waves of the Pacific Ocean and created a large number of paintings with marine themes. Most of these works are collected by various circles in Japan.

In the spring of 1988, the first venue for the “Li Decai Solo Exhibition” was Fuji Gallery in Ginza, Tokyo (it is said that painters from all over the world want to hold a solo exhibition in Ginza, because it is a world-famous gallery area.) There are more than 120 galleries in the Ginza area, which are open to the public every day, exhibiting works by painters from all over the world). Since then, Mr. Li’s art exhibitions have been launched in Japan. He has successively held “Li Decai’s Solo Painting Exhibition” in Umiku City, Fisheries City, Kitabaru City, and Takadi City in Tokyo, Japan.

Mr. Lee’s last solo exhibition before leaving Japan in 1989 was held in the large exhibition hall of the Ibaraki Prefectural Cultural Center, sponsored by the Tokyo International Art Association. Mr. Shizumoto Kio, Minister of Self-Government of Japan, inscribed the five characters “Li Decai Painting Exhibition” for the exhibition. Mr. Yasuhiro Nakasone, Prime Minister of Japan and Prime Minister of Japan, presented a basket of flowers to the exhibition. Mr. Jun Hasegawa, Minister of Justice of Japan, also presented a flower basket to the exhibition; Mr. Katsuo Takayama, President of the Tokyo International Art Association, and Mr. Shizuhide Torii, President of the International Art and Culture Association, presented flowers to the exhibition. The ribbon-cutting ceremony of the exhibition was presided over by Mr. Fujita Suzuki, Mayor of Takagi City, Japan. This exhibition exhibited many large works and achieved great success. Among them, the work “Four Gentlemen” won the award, and major Japanese news media have done a lot of coverage.

Many Japanese who saw the exhibition said, “It’s so beautiful,” “It’s the first time in my life,” and “It’s amazing.” After the exhibition, the audience was reluctant to leave the exhibition hall and wait to talk to Mr. Li. These include professional painters, amateur painters, and general audiences. They ask all sorts of questions. From their interviews, Mr. Li also learned about the style and level of Japanese ink painting and their understanding and love for Chinese painting art.

Mr. Lee’s seascape painting “Takato’s Shioyin” won the “Excellence Award” at the “Haruken Exhibition” held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in 1988. “Hitachi Kaskain” won the “Gold Medal” at an international exhibition held by the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.


In the Netherlands, Li Decai said: “Although these Dutch copyists are very high-level, they can’t copy my works because they haven’t painted Chinese paintings.” ”

In 1991, Mr. Li was invited to hold a solo exhibition in the Netherlands, the hometown of the master painter Van Gogh, to promote and introduce traditional Chinese painting to European audiences, so that European audiences can have a preliminary understanding of Chinese art and even the whole of Oriental art. At the same time, Mr. Li lost no time in observing and appreciating European paintings and masters’ works, from which he understood the essence of art and the differences with Oriental painting art. Mr. Li often said that various arts learn from each other and learn from each other; Talents complement each other and improve day by day.

In the spring of 1993, at the “Chinese Culture and Art Festival” held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Mr. Li participated in the “Chinese Art Six Artists Exhibition” together with the works of five other Chinese painters. At that time, Mr. Apmann, chairman of the Rotterdam City Art Center, saw Mr. Li’s work and admired it. Through the introduction of the comrades of the Cultural Affairs Department of the Chinese Embassy, Mr. Apollman met with Mr. Li. He offered to ask Mr. Li to paint a Chinese painting on the mural column in the Katrei district of Rotterdam as a gift from the city government to the Chinese community. Mr. Lee readily agreed.

In terms of painting methods, Mr. Li surprised Dutch painters; According to the traditional Dutch painting model, Mr. Li only needs to draw a sketch of more than a dozen centimeters, which is enlarged and copied on the wall by the master of mural painting of the Art Center. All the works on the Dutch mural column are copied by these masters, and it can be said that there is little difference. But Mr. Li insisted on drawing it himself, saying: “Although these Dutch reproduction masters are very high-level, they can’t copy my work because they haven’t painted Chinese paintings.” What I gave him was a small sketch of more than a dozen centimeters, and if I asked him to draw it, it could only be an enlarged sketch, not a complete work, and only my own second processing could make it a complete work. Because the production of Chinese paintings requires profound traditional painting skills, this alone cannot be achieved by Western painters. This is really “wild talk” in the Netherlands, which is known as the “country of painters”. However, what happened afterwards not only confirmed Mr. Li’s “wild words”, but also made his Dutch counterparts admire.

“I am a Chinese painter and I think Chinese ink painting is the best painting in the world. My greatest wish in life is to be able to hold solo exhibitions in Paris and Rome, so as to serve the motherland that gave birth to me and raised me, and won glory for the Chinese nation.” This is the painter’s words for his beloved Chinese painting, but also for his motherland.