Throughout his career, contemporary Chinese-American artist Martin Fan Cheng has persisted in his quest to “to paint the real world as we see it.” Cheng’s work is influenced by fishing, one of his beloved hobbies, through which he became intrigued by the glistening presence of fish. More recently, he has produced a series showing fish in their natural habitat, reflecting the Chinese painting tradition of depicting the beauty of the natural world. Along with his interest in the natural world, his work also alludes to the significance of food as a Chinese cultural obsession, and focuses on fish and other food in a life-size or larger format.
About the Artist
Martin Fan Cheng was born in 1931 in Anhui province, China. His family then fled to Chongqing, Sichuan province during the Sino-Japanese War. In 1949 he moved to Taiwan, where he received a degree in Civil Engineering from National Taiwan University. In 1958 he came to the US, where he earned a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and Mathematics from The University of Minnesota, followed by a Ph.D. degree in Mathematics from The University of Kansas. In 1980 he completed a BFA degree from the same university, then an MFA degree from The University of Washington. Today he lives and paints in Lawrence, KS.
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Martin Fan Cheng, Two Fish (detail), 1990. Watercolor and graphite on paperboard. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, gift of Dr. Chu-tsing Li and Family.
Martin Fan Cheng, Chinese Tea Eggs, 1985-1986. Watercolor on paperboard. Lent by Martin Fan Cheng.