Yang Fan was born in Hong Kong in January of 1955 but his ancestral home is located in Nantong City, Jiangsu Province where he entered the Nantong Arts and Crafts Research Institute in 1972. In 1978, he was enrolled in the Department of Fine Arts of Nanjing Normal University and graduated in 1982. He has served as the dean of the School of Fine Arts at Nanjing Normal University and as a professor and doctoral supervisor there as well.
He now is the assistant dean of the Chinese Painting Department, of Chinese National Academy of Painting, supervisor of psot-doctoral students in Chinese National Academy of Painting, the dean of the Nanjing Painting and Calligraphy Academy, and the director of Jinling Art Museum. He is considered an expert by the Ministry of Culture and enjoys a special allowance from the State Council. He was hired as the academician of the National Academy of Science and Art of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2010, the academician of the National Academy of Science and Art of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan in 2013, and received the honorable title of Jurade Knight in Saint-Emilion, France, in 2014.