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Shi Yu

Portrait of Shi Yu in Yantai in 2009

Shi Yu moved an easel to the scene of a music playing, listened to the sound and drawn its shape, experienced the alternate of the slow and surging atmosphere, which was presented in the painting by the use of brush and pigments. The result of painting is static, a quiet environment and the fixed image is most suitable for the sketch. Shi Yu acted in a diametrically opposite way, included in the sound of music and action of objects in their own source of painting.

An Excerpt from Ma Lu: Painting and Music – On Shi Yu’s Art of Oil Painting

Shi Yu’s father was a member of the No Name Art Group. The member of No Name Art Group had an almost religious feeling to painting, they believed that the painting expressed the true feelings of the painters, and this kind of artistic idea was traced to the aesthetics of Chinese traditional literati paintings. Shi Yu grown up within the atmosphere of No Name Art Group, he was influenced by what he constantly saw and heard from the elder generation, borrowing Hans-Georg Gadamer’s term, it formed his own deep-rooted prior understanding or prejudice. Shi Yu was admitted to the High School Affiliated to CAFA, and then successively became an undergraduate and graduate student, taught at the academy after graduation, he has never leave CAFA since then. The academy school represented by the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA has a different understanding of painting from the No Name Art Group, so that, Shi Yu was half believing the academy art at the beginning. Staying at academy, Shi Yu naturally cannot get rid of the influence of the academy; but his “understanding” of painting formed in the academy has always been reconciled by the prior understanding of No Name Art Group. These two forces are almost equal for Shi Yu, which constitutes thesis and antithesis put forward by G.H.F. Hegel.

The confusion or entanglement reflected by Shi Yu’s paintings is fundamentally rooted in the irreconcilable between the two artistic principles of Na Name Art Group and academy school, and furthermore, it is diverted from contradictions between the traditional Chinese art view and modern western literature, the instinctive interest in art and the scientific training. Artist Shi Yu and his paintings are the outcome of this conflict.

Excerpts from Peng Feng: Fusion and Disputing of Horizon – Reading Shi Yu’s Paintings

Shi Yu’s paintings always present an implication of freehand brushwork, which is summarized and relaxed, refusing to get bogged down in petty detail, but focusing on the meteorology of the whole painting, with a stretching screen, instead of loading his work with fancy skills. The implication of this kind of freehand brushwork always has a gentle and quiet attitude in Shi Yu’s, failed an arrogance and rashness, but being plain. His brush stroke and speed of running a brush always presents an expression, as if allowing me to see the state of his painting, his focus, his enthusiasm and his talents. In the screen arranged by big colored blocks, he does not draw many but it is meaningful.

An Excerpt from Dai Shihe: Shi Yu’s Landscape of Oil Painting

I basically bring my oil paintings on photo, and the creating source is that teacher Tan once had a look at my works, he unconsciously saw my oil paintings on photo, and thought the theme and technique was very interesting, changed the original level and space, rather than the relationship between upper and lower layers in the traditional oil painting, it is the relationship between the inner and outer layers. These paintings are my recent tries, advancing oil painting brush strokes and colors on the background-color photo, it can create a restless and uneasy feeling. And the restless and uneasy feeling is particularly suited to express the urban night scenes, and the mentality has been consistent with the way of writing.

An Excerpt from Shi Yu: The Restlessness and Uneasiness of Urban Life

The show of ten artists presents more than 30 pieces of experimental work of oil painting to depict the urban night scenes, taking photo paper as material in an attempt to expand the depth and space of oil painting language. The plots of photos are taken as the bottom plate of oil pigments, to separate the original relationship of upper oil painting and lower canvas, to form a spatial depth. It is because of fusion of spatial depth and brush strokes, a restless and uneasy mood of contemporary urban life is created. And the deeper understanding is that the language expression of photo paper with oil painting graffiti is the best way to express the restless and uneasy mood.

An Excerpt from Shi Yu: The Statement about Graffiti

About Shi Yu

1989-1993 Studied in the High School Affiliated to CAFA

1993-1997 Studied in the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA, with a bachelor’s degree

1999-2002 Studied in the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA, as an equivalent graduate student

2005-2008 Studied in the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA, as a college teacher on-the-job graduate student, with a master’s degree

1997-1999 Taught in the High School Affiliated to CAFA

Since 2002 Taught in the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA


2015 Fellow Travelers, Bridge Art Space in 798 Art District, Beijing

2015 The Temperature of History–CAFA and Chinese Representational Oil Paintings, China Art Museum, Shanghai

2015 “Breaking the Image” Group Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Sishang Art Museum, Beijing

2015 Art Beijing, National Agriculture Exhibition Center, Beijing

2015 One Thousand Years of Context Yuelu Literati Party, Li Art Museum, Changsha, Hunan Province

2015 The work “Sacrifice of the Ganges River God” was selected in the “Spirit of China the 4th Chinese Oil Painting Exhibition by the China Artists Association, Beijing

2015 Shi Yu’s Solo Exhibition “The Painting”, Bridge Art Space in the 798 Art District, Beijing

2014 The 12th National Art Exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, his work “The Expeditionary Force to Build Roads” was shown in Beijing

2014 Fertile Soil of the Central Plains – My Soil, My People Oil Painting Invitational Exhibition, Shandong Art Museum, showcased the work “Hearth”

2014 Running Away - Shi Yu, Liu Shangying Oil Painting Exhibition, Bridge Art Space in the 798 Art District, Beijing

2013 From Beijing – Teachers from Department of Oil Painting in CAFA Works Exhibition, New York Academy of Art, America

2013 New Sketch • Common Freehand Brushwork – Known Chinese Oil Painters Sketch Research Exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing

2013 Colors - Shi Yu Works Exhibition, Inside-Out Art Museum, Beijing

2013 CAFA 10 Teachers Exhibition, Today Art Museum, Beijing

2013 Well-Known Painters Nominated Exhibition, Zhuzhong Art Museum, Beijing

2011 Academy 8 Artists Exhibition, Baiyaxuan Gallery, 798 Art District, Beijing

2011 The 4th National Youth Fine Arts Exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, the work “Dongyu River” was selected

2010 “Oil Painting Art and Contemporary Society - Chinese Oil Painting Exhibition”, National Art Museum of China, Beijing

2010 Invitational Exhibition of Rome Academy of Fine Arts, ILMONDO DELL’ ART Rome, Italy

2009 Giants’ Footprints – Commemorating Founding Fathers National Fine Art Exhibition, the work “Hengtang House” and “Cotton Padded Overcoat” were permanently collected by Chinese Modern Culture Research Center

2008 Group Exhibition of 50 Chinese Contemporary Oil Painters, Huantie Art Museum, Beijing

2007 CCTV Chinese Contemporary Oil Painting Exhibition, CCTV, Beijing

The work “The Kitchen of Cave Dwelling” won the Excellent Price of CCTV Chinese Contemporary Oil Painting Exhibition and permanently collected by CCTV

2006 Reviewing Realism – 50 Chinese Contemporary Oil Painters Exhibition, Liu Haisu Art Museum, Shanghai

2006 Sketching the Phase – Liu Shangying and Shi Yu’s Oil Painting Exhibition, CAFA Art Museum, Beijing

2005 Academy • Mutation – 2005 Young Artist Oil Painting and Sculptural Works Exhibition, Shanghai Spring Salon Art Fair, Shanghai

2004-2005 Baishi•Oil Painting – Commemorating the 140th Anniversary of the Birth of Qi Baishi Chinese Freehand Brushwork Oil Painting Invitational Exhibition, Liu Haisu Art Museum, Shanghai; CAFA Art Museum, Beijing


2004 The Spirit of Square Cun – Shi Yu’s Oil Painting Exhibition, CAFA Art Museum, Beijing

Courtesy of the artist and CAFA ART INFO, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO.