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Chinese artist paints the town

Mathew Street residency for portrait master

Written by . Published on September 4th 2012.

Chinese artist paints the town

CHINESE artist Zhao Zhu is to show his work for the first time in the UK with an exhibition at Ken Martin’s View Two Gallery at 23 Mathew Street in Liverpool.

It comes after successful art shows in the National Art Museum of China in Beijing and in Shanghai.

Face to Face opens at View Two Gallery with a private view at 6pm on Thursday, September 6.

Zhao Zhu will unveil his latest work, a portrait of Brian Wong, regarded as Liverpool’s own Mr Chinatown.

Look, it's himKen Martin: Look, it's him

He will remain as artist in residence at View Two until the end of October, giving lovers of impressionist portraits a chance to closely watch him at work.

The 48-year-old artist from Guizhou Province teaches art at Guiyang University in the province’s capital city.

Inspired by the great oil masters of the western world, particularly Lucien Freud style of thickly impastoed portraits, Zhao Zhu has developed a style fusing impressionism with Chinese characteristics.

Since arriving in Liverpool he has already completed paintings of gallery owner and renowned architect Ken Martin and Liverpool businessman David Doyle.

Typically he completes his works on four feet square canvasses in a matter of hours.

Zhao Zhu’s interest in art developed as a 10 year old when he sketched people, still life and landscapes. In 1983 he won a place at China Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing, described as China’s most prestigious centre for education in the arts.

Zhao Zhu said: "Oil painting was introduced into China from the western world and I was impressed by the great masters. I adore the work of Lucien Freud and during my studies and my practice I was able to develop my own distinctive style.

Zhou's AcrylicsZhou's acrylics

"I look at my subjects from eye to eye and from heart to heart and capture what I see on the canvas. My aim is to capture the whole character of the person in my work."

Zhao Zhu’s portrait work won acclaim during his exhibitions in China.

His residency in Liverpool has given him first chance to capture westerners in his distinctive style.

"I chose Liverpool because of the city’s links with China, particularly the sister links between Liverpool and Shanghai."

Gallery owner Ken Martin said: "When I first saw the work of Zhao Zhu I was amazed and impressed. He is an incredibly talented artist. I sat for two hours and he spent so much time seemingly deep in thought as his brush moved across his canvas.

"He just observed me objectively and dispassionately and within two hours he had created a painting of me that just has to be seen. It is incredible. He works very quickly and paints with a real emotion. I feel very lucky to have this gifted artist in residence at View Two."

Gallery manager Jamie Burns will be organising a number of social events and gatherings centred around Zhao Zhu in the coming weeks.

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