Tian MangZi was born in Shenyang in 1968. He started painting from an early age before he was a teenager. He studied ink and brush under the guidance of Chinese masters who taught him to paint landscapes. At 18 he entered the Shenyang Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1990 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. In 1992 he attended the classical Chinese paintings department of the Academy of Fine Arts of Xi’an and graduated with a Master’s degree in 1995. From 1999-2002 he taught painting at the Shenyang Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts. He has worked as a full-time artist since 2002.
When Tian Mangzi began to paint still life he focussed on trying to understand the structure and character of the pear, orange, banana and other fruits and vegetables. He finally chose the apple as his favourite object for still life paintings because it has the same characteristics of simplicity and complexity, just like Planet Earth.
One year after he started to focus on painting apples, he suddenly realized the reason for doing so. It was “an impulse to overthrow the accursed world and then to create a new, beautiful, peaceful planet which belongs to everyone.” Tian Mangzi does not tire of painting apples because he says, “What I have painted is not apples but planets.”
Tian Mangzi explains, “Chinese attitude is to suggest a shape as a hint of the universe. Chinese philosophy is based on emotion rather than logic or rationality. My art has two functions: firstly, to construct an apple, and secondly to try to encourage the viewer to move into a second stage of realizing that the shape represents the universe.
The apples/planets are suspended in space, but “space” has been removed so that the dimensional effect remains.”
The various colours that Tian Mangzi uses represent the different types of people, character and environment. The colours are his attempt to achieve happiness.