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Born in Dalian, China, Qiang Zhang finished high school in 1979 and enrolled at LUXUN Academy of Fine Arts, majoring in oil painting for his Bachelor of Fine Arts. From 1984 to1989, Zhang worked as an art editor for a magazine while participating in several art exhibitions.
Zhang emigrated to Australia in 1989, settling in Doncaster East and in 1999 held an exhibition at Salon Des Refuses NSW.
In 2006, Zhang sold his business to concentrate on painting. His unique artistic expression was acknowledged when he was named as a finalist for the 2008 Wynne prize, 2009 & 2012 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, 2013 Black Swan Portrait Prize & Finalist 2014 Archibald Prize. He also exhibited in the Camberwell Rotary Art show.
Zhang attributes his passion and dedication to painting to his children. “What really motivates and influences me is my kids, and out of your whole life you have to do something worthwhile, something that makes you think that you haven't wasted it. My daughters inspire me to do what I am doing now because I wish for them to receive the best childhood I can give them, to receive a normal happy life with no complications, just like any father would want for their kids.
I love to paint because everyone is gifted with a special talent, and mine just happens to be art. I love it because I can convey my feelings on canvas where it is secret and only I can understand the true hidden colours.” Zhang offers emotive and vibrant seascapes, such as Summer’s Day and St. Kilda Beach, echoing Zhang’s love of the water. “I paint the beach because it brings back memories. Explaining his fascination for painting sea and landscapes, Zhang says, “I paint to show the relationship between the nature and humans, and to show that we need each other to survive and also to show that we, as humans, are responsible for how we act and affect nature.”
Having embraced the challenges of settling and raising a family in a new country and running his own business, Zhang’s personal fulfilment is reflected in his art: “My spirit sometimes seems disappointed now that I'm old and there are life’s difficult pressures to deal with. However, now when I paint, it has more of a spirit. I've loosened up when I paint and am more relaxed.”
Zhang sums up his approach to his art, “Painting is not something I rely on to just make money: it is something that I feel passionate about. I can express my feelings and I can show people my ability. I don't try and focus to make my painting style unique because it's just natural for me to paint uniquely.”