Yu Hong: The Laughing Heart
Inspired by Dunhuang: Re-creation in Contemporary Chinese Art, China Institute Gallery, 2013-14
Though her work is grounded in a Socialist Realist style, Yu Hong eschews anodyne depictions of smiling, hale workers, and instead explores the complex experience of contemporary Chinese women in her lush, expressive paintings. Working with oil, pastels, and fabric dye on canvas, silk, and resin, Yu portrays an array of women—young to elderly, traditional to modern, active to contemplative, sultry to silly. She depicts them in groups or isolated against solid backgrounds, or in domestic spaces, sometimes incorporating a photograph of her painted subject into her works. In She-Retired Worker (2004), for example, Yu shows an older woman in her home with her husband and a young woman. Next to this painted scene is a photograph of the woman holding a baby girl—a poignant juxtaposition, suggestive of the shifting position of women in Chinese society across the generations.
Chinese, b. 1966, Beijing, China, based in Beijing, China