Cyber Art Gallery Featured Artist

Feng Lei


Artist’s Statement

I have had a strong interest in art since high school. When I was in the countryside, I would paint every day after doing a day’s farm work. The three year’s practice in the countryside assured me of passing the entrance exam for Xi’an Art Academy and I have viewed painting as my life’s career ever since. And although my life experience is hard and full of suffering, I like to express the theme of a beautiful world and raise people’s love for nature. I describe a world which is even more beautiful than real nature. Watercolour is bright and fresh and can produce fabulous effects. I combine the skills of modern strong-colour painting and Chinese traditional painting and create uniquely coloured paintings which express the goodness in life.

Translated from Chinese by Xiao Li

Artist's Biography

Feng Lei was born in 1956 near the ancient capital of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, in the People’s Republic of China. In a family of seven people he learned the rigours of hard work by herding sheep, mowing hay and helping his parents with farm chores. Looking after the animals began his lifelong fascination with nature and its creatures. “I raised chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs, birds, silkworms and fish; I even raised ants when I was in primary school. I found it interesting to see them burrowing around and transporting food.”

In 1974 he graduated high school but with no entrance exams for university in those years, all high school graduates were sent to the countryside to receive re-education from the lower-class peasants. “I worked and lived with the peasants for three years. I had a chance to talk and mingle with them and was really impressed by their tough working spirit.” Life was difficult. Food and oil were strictly rationed; meat was served in meals only every few months. Steamed bread made from corn and wheat flour was the staple food. In the area where he lived, only a few drops of water were available for sponge bathing. In spite of the hardships Feng Lei maintained his love for the natural world. “Every time I saw the grass and trees in the mountains I became excited and a love for life and nature came into my heart.”

He graduated from the Xi’an Art Academy in 1979 and helped his father, the sole breadwinner, support the family. At 23, he gave up an office job to work in a carborundum factory instead. From 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. he shoveled sand into a smelting furnace and loaded the products onto trucks; the work was filthy and exhausting but after a day’s work, he had two extra hours to go outside and do oil paintings of scenery. With a worker or peasant as model, he would do line drawing for another two hours until bedtime at 10:00 p.m. This was his life for five years when at 28 he was assigned another job, this time design work, which gave him more time to draw. He studied traditional Chinese ink painting, poetry, calligraphy and seal cutting from books. From 1990-2000 his job was in the public relations department of a hotel. Additionally for two years he sold his paintings every evening at the front gate of a hotel for foreign tourists.

In 1998 Feng Lei happened upon the works of modern American–Chinese painter Ding Shaoguang whose use of watercolours to achieve bold, bright colours deeply impressed him and he began to change his own painting style. “I saw a road leading me in a new direction. I painted humans, scenery and animals with watercolour and got fabulous effects.”

Finally, in 2002, his talents were put to good use when he became a photographer and editor for Shaanxi Pictorial Magazine. But always and for decades, it has been his painting that allowed him to forget the exhaustion and sadness in life and work, and to dream that, maybe one day, he would change his life with his paintbrush.

Translated by Xiao Li and edited by Linda Neilly

Dimensions (centimeters)

#06 48x50, #15 47x50, #16 47x50, #18 48x50, #19 98x96, #24 67x67,

#27 39x48, #35 98x96, #37 98x96, #38 68x72, 39 #72x68, #43 72x68


The Durham West Arts Centre exists to create, manage, and operate a centre for the advancement and promotion of artistic disciplines, and related activities throughout the community, for the benefit of the residents of the
Regional Municipality of Durham, and the Province of Ontario.

Durham West Arts Centre • 72 B Old Kingston Road, Pickering Village, Ajax, ON Canada L1T 2Z8
TEL: 905-250-9891 • WEBSITE: • EMAIL: info@dwac.caWEBMASTER