Dr. He Qi was among the many people sent to the countryside during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. As a young man, he escaped hard labor by painting pictures of chairman Mao Zedong. During those years, he once found a copy of Renaissance artist Raphael’s Madonna and Child in a magazine, and was so moved by it, that he began to paint copies of it at night.
He Qi earned a doctorate in religious art from Nanjing Art Institute, having studied medieval art in Hamburg, Germany. He was a professor of Christian Art at Nanjing Theological Seminary before moving to St. Paul, Minnesota in 2004. He is a member of the Chinese Art Association, and a council member of the ACAA (Asia Christian Art Association). His work has been seen in many international journals and media outlets, and he has exhibited in Asia, Europe and the United States. His wife is a musician, and his son is a student at Augsburg College in St. Paul.
One can better understand the art of He Qi when it is seen as a reinterpretation of sacred art within an ancient Chinese art idiom. Chinese religious art, being an expression of Buddhism, was historically typified as a tranquil and utopian portrayal of nature, often painted with black ink and water. He Qi is especially influenced by the simple and beautiful artwork of the people in rural China. Within that framework, he seeks to redefine the relationship between people and spirituality with bold colors, embellished shapes and thick strokes. His work is a blend of Chinese folk art and traditional painting technique with the iconography of the Western Middle Ages and Modern Art.
A 127 page color monograph of the work of He Qi was published by OMSC in 2006. Unfortunately, this book is sold out in the OMSC bookstore. The artist has a new monograph available (published in 2013), which is available at his website.