Yifei Chen was born in Nigbo, Zhejiang China in 1946. Chen graduated in 1965 from the Shanghai Art Training School. While in Shanghai, Chen gained a position as the head of the Oil Painting Department at the Painting Academy.
Yifei Chen moved to the United States in 1980 to continue his studies in art at Hunter College. Chen moved again in 1982 to Europe to study the Classical European masters of oil painting. In 1983, the first exhibit of his work was held, an exclusive exhibit at the New York’s Hammer Gallery. It proved to be the first of many exhibits. Chen’s work garnered high prices, and he became one of the first Chinese artists to have their work exhibited and sold throughout the Western Hemisphere and Europe. During the 1980s, Chen’s artwork became popular not only in China and the United States, but also in Britain, France, and Japan. One of Yifei Chen’s accomplishments was in 1985, when his painting, “Bridge”, was used by the United Nations. Around the same time Armand Hammer who was the chairman of the Occidental Petroleum Corporation gifted another of Yifei Chen’s artworks to Deng Xiaoping.
After Chen’s studies in Europe, he returned to China to start a series of paintings of Waterside villages in the Jiangnan province. In 1990 he took a trip to Tibet and painted several scenes of the culture and scenery there. Chen’s oil paintings consisted of Western and Chinese musicians and ballet dancers as well as landscapes from Venice and China. In 1991, Chen’s painting entitled “Lingering Melodies at Xunyang” sold for over $100,000 in Hong Kong. This was the highest price ever paid for a painting in the Chinese art world.
Yifei Chen was not only a talented and successful artist, but also a film director and fashion designer. In 2001, Chen was the agent for several designers with the fashion magazine called Yifel Vision, which was sponsored by China Youth Magazine. Throughout his lifetime, Chen donated much of his earnings to the charity Project Hope.
Yifei Chen died of an upper-digestive-tract hemorrhage in the Huashan Hospital in Shanghai in 2005.