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Born in 1949 in Southern China, Datian endured the cultural revolution of the Communist regime where he was denied a formal education and forced to work as a farm laborer, carpenter, and puppet maker. Despite the hardships, Datian still yearned to pursue his life's passion in art, as his father, a Paris-educated painter and sculptor, once did.

In 1984 when he was awarded the silver and bronze medals for his paintings "Life" and "Roots" at the China National Fine Art Exhibition. This achievement accorded him national recognition as a master painter. With his place in the art world established, his work traveled to Moscow, London, New York, and Tokyo as part of the China Fine Art Museum exhibition. In 1989 he immigrated to the U.S. and staged one man shows in New York and London.

To commemorate the Year of the Horse in 1990, Datian painted the exquisite "Horses" series. It garnered acclaim and was eventually selected by the U.S. Olympic Organizing Committee as the basis for the 1992 U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team poster. He earned yet another artist appointment from the 1996 U.S. Olympic Committee. A number of his paintings and sculptures remain an integral part of the Olympic Games Museum.