ArtCN Gallery is pleased to present “Eccentric Curves”, a solo exhibition by Pang Yongjie, featuring his new sculptures and works on canvas.
Born in Shandong in 1968, Pang Yongjie is recognized as one of the leading Chinese artists who has championed China’s emerging "post-contemporary abstract" movement. Pang studied both oil painting and Chinese ink and water painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts and at Shandong Normal University. At school he achieved a high degree of proficiency in expressive color and imagery - evident in the Neo-Expressionism movement - and in his refined undisrupted lines and forms, influenced by classical Chinese painting. He has gradually shaped an unconventional abstract figurative painting style, gaining recognition for his voluptuous and playful rendering of fleshy human figures and anthropomorphic sculptures. These fluid female figures have become his signature in both his painting and sculpture.
In his early work, Pang Yongjie found in folk art a constant source of inspiration. By using strong forms, colors, volumes and lines he wished to express through semi-realistically shaped women a pleasant visual experience, a “feast of vision”. This he achieved with generous breasts and hips, bright lips on a round face, and fleshy curves, reminding us of the famous Tang beauties. As his art evolved from folk art combined with a study of color from the modern western world, the structure of his paintings became more refined, using simple lines and forms to express the complex relationship between space and the object - continuity between flat and cubistic, line and color blocks. The difference of perspective brought a different attitude toward the observation of the object and the folk factor gradually disappeared. His evolving approach to the maternal figure lead him towards more free and subjective shapes. Here the object does not always appear in complete form, however the integrity of the object is much more visible. Accordingly, the unique position of each character in the overall arrangement of the layering and spaces of the painting allowed Pang to evoke his inner feeling toward love and sensual pleasure.
Pang's stainless steel women with their bulging metallic presence create a tension between the power of their lines on one hand and their volume on the other allowing them to interact with intimacy with their surroundings. The sculptures Pang is currently creating could be perceived as female, but actually are gender neutral. Pang has clearly stated, “Many people believe the image is a woman, however, that is not a woman but rather a more gender-neutral being, or at the same time it might be something as private as a self-portrait”. Pang also says that as this figure went from resembling a woman to looking like an “animal”. He designed it to look exactly how he felt it should look and then he would revisit it months later to see if it still reflected the way he felt. He has used the same basic shapes to provoke a variety of emotions in the observer. Our mood changes from sculpture to sculpture and our emotions evolve each time we revisit a piece. Looking at Pang’s work is a journey through one man’s vision of the world of men, women, and animals.
Pang, along with most of his contemporaries, lived through the frenzied era of political criticism and social cynicism. Their ramification subsequently dominated almost the entire dialogue of China’s contemporary art for more than two decades. Yet he found himself counter-intuitively exploring and reveling in abstract figurative painting as a joyous and deeply sensual experience, possibly repelled by the efflux of disingenuously fabricated visual symbols and social signifiers. This rebellious determination led Pang to an alternative artistic U-turn which seemed to answer the calling for the liberation of the self from socialist ideology and moral surveillance, a calling often manifested in art forms which express social criticism in China.
In addition to his ever-growing popularity in Asia, Pang has been exhibiting regularly in Europe including the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and France since the early 2000s and more recently in New York.