Yu Xiaoyi was born in Shanghai in 1949. He graduated from the Department of Fine Arts of Shanghai Donghua University in 1969; worked and studied in the Shanghai Oil Painting and Sculpture Studio in 1975; and worked as an artist at the Shanghai People's Fine Arts Publishing House in 1979. In 1986, he went to the United States to study in Chicago. During his stay in the U.S., he studied and explored the authentic oil paintings of famous realistic oil painters in the past and obtained rich oil painting techniques and creative ideas. Most of the oil paintings he created in the United States are based on figures and landscapes. His works have been exhibited in different galleries many times. Many works have won awards and have been collected by collectors from all over North America and Europe. In 1995, he was included in the Who's Who of Chinese Artists in North America and made a member of the American Portrait Painters Association.
He currently is a guest professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing; and guest professor at Xiamen University Art College.