In the Studio: Tamen

Reverie Arts
Nov 18, 2014 6:58PM

Tamen (他们) is an artist collective composed of two young artists, Lai Shengyu (赖圣予) and Yang Xiaogang (杨晓钢), who were born in Hunan Province in 1978 and 1979, respectively. The group is alternatively referred to as “Ta Men” and “They”, which is the English translation of their name. As a collective, they reject notions of self and individuality in art by co-painting each work and collaborating in a manner that draws attention away from the individual.

Lai and Yang both received post-graduate degrees in 2004 from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in the Department of Printmaking, and are currently based in Beijing working at Beihang University (BUAA) in the Department of New Media Art. The two artists founded Tamen based on a common understanding and ideal of contemporary art. Expressing doubt at the overwhelming image of the self as advertised by their generation, as Tamen they slough off these false notions, replacing ‘self’ with ‘they’ and seeking individuality via the collective. The two artists co-paint, co-operate and co-practice, a wholly collective process that refuses to delineate between the artists – a lack of focus on the individual that distinguishes Tamen from the last and present generations of artists in China.

Tamen’s work focuses on the psychological effects of China’s new affluence and its contemporary state of being. Through works of oil on canvas or digital photography, scenes of big-city China or serene nature are flush with symbols to visually emphasize the tension and collisions that Tamen sees as the constant revolution in China’s society. Adopting both montage and Pop Art forms, Tamen plays with the spatial relationships between landscapes, architecture, objects and figures to highlight the curious simultaneity of China’s past and present.

Reality is juxtaposed with illusion and tranquility with anxiety. Adding a healthy dose of ridicule and incredulity to the mix, Tamen criticizes the human appetence hiding behind images and falsehood and the sheen of modern affluence. By holding a mirror to the objects and symbols to which contemporary society has attached itself to, Tamen uses its novel visual language of surrealism and critical realism to offer a philosophical analysis of man’s inner feelings in this new world – those of bitterness, solitude, and distance.


Tamen(他们)是一个艺术家小组,由赖圣予和杨晓钢两位年轻艺术家组成,他们分别于1978年和1979年生于湖南省。这个小组被称作“Ta Men”或“They” ,这是他们的名字的英文翻译。作为一个小组,他们拒绝艺术中的自我和个体的概念,通过共同创作,并以合作的方式将人们的注意从个体身上抽离。

赖圣予和杨晓钢2004年从中央美术学院版画系获得硕士学位,目前在北京航空航天大学的新媒体艺术系任教。两位艺术家怀着对当代艺术共同的理解组成了Tamen(他们)小组。他们对于同辈人对自我的过度热衷保持怀疑,试图蜕去这些虚假的概念,以“他们”取代“自我” ,并通过集体寻求个体性。两位艺术家共同绘画,共同协作,共同实践,这个高度合作的过程难于用语言表达。他们没有将注意力集中在个体身上,这大大地将Tamen(他们)与中国近几代艺术家区别开来。



Reverie Arts