Ji Chen was born in Shanghai, China. He completed his Bachelor of Arts degree at Shanghai Drama Academy in 1984, and later worked as chief set designer for the Beijing Opera Theater Company of China. His technical mastery showcased in his breath-taking landscapes quickly grew in reputation. Subsequently, his watercolor work, ‘pool’, was the recipient of a prestigious national award, and exhibited throughout China, which marked the beginning of his professional career as an artist.
Ji and his family arrived in Australia in 1989. For Ji, the vivid colors and brilliant light of the Australian landscape provided him an artistic subject like no other - ‘In Australia, the weather, and therefore the landscape, is the best teacher. I look and I learn’. Ji‘s artistic style is unique and instantly distinctive, comprising of broad, daring brush-strokes, juxtaposed with an almost ethereal softness and warmth, all the while born from a continuously evolving, fresh and unparalleled perspective. Whilst many of Ji’s artworks are imbued with a resounding and eternal affinity for the magnificent vistas and vast horizons of the Australian landscape, Ji often transcends his trademark artistic genre, as reflected by his monumental portraits, which comprise some of his most prized and highly sought-after works.
Ji Chen has been the recipient of some of the most prestigious art awards in Australia. His achievements include; first prize of the Brighton Art Award; first prize at Altona Art Show (on five occasions); the $10,000 first prize of the Victor Harbour Award (1994); and best oil painting award at Victor Harbour in 2006. Ji's most recent accomplishment was the 2016's 26th Tattersale's invite only 'Landscape Art Prize People's Choice Award'.
In 2002, 2004, and 2006 Ji Chen won the People’s Choice Award in the most reputed competition for landscape painting in Australia and abroad, the Fleurieu Peninsula Biennale ‘Fleurieu Peninsula Art Prize’. In 2004, Ji received the award for his spectacular work ‘Murray River’, and again in 2006 for his riveting landscape ‘Lake Eyre’. In 2005, he was awarded the $20,000 Best of Show Gold Medal Award at the Herald Sun Camberwell Art Show in Melbourne for his turbulent and extraordinary oil-on-canvas painting ‘Rough Sea’. Michael Berry, chief judge at the 2005 Camberwell Art Show summarized his judgement of ‘Rough Sea’ as follows:
‘This work stood out as exceptional for its masterly use of broad paint laden Zen-like brush strokes describing, forming and punctuating the picture plane’s space in single spontaneous sweeps of drawn energy – truly remarkable. The development of perspective is unusual and innovative being fully realised in the rear, middle and forward fields of the picture plan, then pushed further into the forward field (rocks) off the canvas into the space inhabited by the autonomous viewer outside the picture plane. Added to that is the quite unusual exploration of the oblique vanishing diagonals, and such multiple-focus shifting vanishing-point shifts as previously found in master works by Bruegel, Pollock and Matta – few in this country even understand the language let alone are capable of actually painting the space.’