Cecilia Aisin Gioro
Many people know the Chinese dress known as the Qipao, but far fewer know that Qipao has its origin in a non-chinese family, the Aisin Gioro – a Manchu royal family that ruled the Qing dynasty of China from 1644-1911. Qi in Mandarin means banner, and pao means dress. In the original Han Chinese, Qipao meant the Manchu banners lady’s dress. The painting "That Night 2" shows a lady wearing a modern Qipao painted by artist Cecilia Aisin Gioro, the grandniece of the last Chinese emperor Puyi Aisin Gioro. In 1911, the world changed for the ruling Aisin Gioro family. Many were killed in the ensuing
revolution and lost their heritage. Many changed their last name to a single Han Chinese character ‘Jin’, or the family generation code. Baby Cecilia was spirited away to a small village in the Changbai Mountains of northeastern China by her grandmother, hoping they would there be safe. When she was five, Cecilia was instructed by her grandmother in the techniques of Royal meticulous, a tradition of watercolour painting from the Qing court. From what we know, her grandmother was an exacting instructor, insisting that every detail be done just perfectly, an approach that would serve Cecilia well as her artistic talent began to bloom. Later, Cecilia was a student of the famous Chinese artist Chen Yifei, from whom she learned to paint delicate faces and drapery folds. She has learned to combine the techniques of Royal meticulous and those from Chen Yifei with her own inventions to create oil paintings with sensitive faces, robust textures and extravagant colours, as shown on these pages. She has also developed a new painting technique based on
Chinese traditional meticulous watercolour, but done in oil on canvas. She has continued to hone this style, and her paintings are now valued by Chinese collectors. While there are some one hundred painters in the Aisin Gioro family throughout the world today, Cecilia is the first and only oil painter. This year, she is taking her heritage a step further with the opening of her own gallery, the Aisin Gioro Fine Art gallery, in Vancouver's Chinatown. This museum style gallery will feature Cecilia's work, and art works by other members of her family, along with Manchurian and Qing dynasty artefacts. Look for Cecilia and selected paintings from her gallery at Art Vancouver 2016, and at the Aisin Gioro Fine Art Gallery, located at 119B East Pender Street in Vancouver, BC.
above, The Stage #1, oil on canvas, 31" x 47", 2014 right, The Bride #4, oil on canvas, 31" x 47", 2015
left top, That Night #2, oil on canvas, 31" x 47", 2014 left bottom-right, Emperor Qianlong, oil on canvas, 31" x 47", 2015 left bottom-left, That Night-the Magic Mirror, oil on canvas, 31" x 47", 2015 above, The stage 3, oil on canvas, 31" x 47", 2015