Galerie du Monde is pleased to announce a joint exhibition of work by Chinese artists Wang Gongyi (b. 1949, Tianjin) and Yan Shanchun (b. 1957, Hangzhou), taking place between 2 September and 5 October 2016. Wang Gongyi and Yan Shanchun have collaborated many times, but this will be the first duo exhibition of both artists in Hong Kong. Both interpret Chinese traditional landscape painting, taking nature as the inspiration for their contemporary forms. The exhibition will feature a selection of lithographs and etchings, as well as large-scale landscape paintings on paper by Wang Gongyi, while also featuring a series of ink paintings and copperplate etchings from Yan Shanchun’s West Lake series.
The gallery will showcase four brand new large-scale paintings on paper by Wang Gongyi, created especially for this exhibition, with one being almost four metres in length. The artist likes to sketch with a calligraphy brush, using soft goat-hair on fragile xuan paper to create lines of profound tension and beauty. For the last few years, she has begun reinterpreting Chinese landscape paintings, neither conforming to nor rejecting traditional style, but instead employing lines and strokes as well as shading, dots and washes as with other abstract forms.
The dots and repetitive patterns hark back to the artist’s time studying in France when she felt she truly discovered her own heritage. The artist describes a specific trance-like painting of dots she created in a studio there, thereafter developing a Zen-like routine of artistic practice, which sees her drawn to repetitive patterns such as dots. Her incredible perception gained in part by approaching similar themes again and again, as exemplified by her dot paintings, saw her master etching and lithography in these early years, in which techniques she has been self-taught. A selection of etching and lithographs will also be on display at the gallery.
Wang Gongyi is an artist of high renown in China, having being awarded the grand prize for her Qiu Jin series of woodcut prints at the ‘Second National Youth Art Exhibition’, one of the most influential awards in China, supported by many of the country’s top cultural institutions. At the time, it was relatively unheard of for this prize to have been awarded to a female artist.
Galerie du Monde will also showcase a number of paintings on paper and copperplate etchings from the West Lake series by Yan Shanchun, one of the first generation of artists to graduate in China when the academies reopened following the Cultural Revolution. The artist hails from Hangzhou, one of Southern China’s most beautiful regions and famous for West Lake, a freshwater lake in the region that has been a source of inspiration for artists and poets for hundreds of years, such as Bai Juyi, Su Shi, Xu Zhimo and Hu Shih. The artist is predominantly inspired by the lake’s rich cultural history combined with the memories of it that followed him while he was working outside of China.
Yan Shanchun is also interested in the tradition of the Chinese literati in China who cultivated their art in seclusion. Choosing to detach himself from the ambition of the contemporary art world, Yan embodies this time-past tradition. A trained traditional ink painter, the artist’s paintings focus on broader sections and perspectives of West Lake, using layer upon layer of pigment, combining this with faint hints of colour and spatial tension. More recently the artist has started to create copperplate etchings which depict or evoke more precise characteristics of the lake, using sulphur and olive oil to create recesses in the copper plate which in turn is printed on to Japanese ganpishi paper. The artist has described the West Lake as ‘clear, remote, tempered and classic’, and the silver-print photography effect of his etchings perfectly symbolises this.
‘We are extremely pleased to present this exceptional exhibition of works by these two acclaimed artists who have had a close friendship for a great many years and have held many joint exhibitions together. Both artists have interpreted traditional Chinese painting in different ways. Both have also developed their work using a variety of mediums from etching and lithography to ink and color on paper, but most importantly, each in their own language, with nature being the common element to both.’
About the Artist
Born in Tianjin, China, in 1946, Wang Gongyi graduated in 1962 from the Affiliated High School of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. She joined the Tianjin People’s Fine Arts Publishing House as an editor in 1973. In 1978, she entered the Printmaking Department of the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now the China Academy of Fine Arts), and after receiving her degree there she remained as a teacher. In 1980, Wang was awarded the grand prize for her ‘Qiu Jin’ series of woodcut prints at the ‘Second National Youth Art Exhibition’. Six years later, she set out to France on a cultural exchange programme. By 2001, the artist had moved to the United States, where she is now based in Oregon.
She has exhibited her prints and works on paper since 1980 including one-person exhibits in France, China, Canada and the United States. Group shows include the 4th International Ink Painting Biennial of Shenzhen, China; Jose Martinez Gallery, Lyon, France; Art Basel, Switzerland; the Exhibition of 15 Famous Chinese Artists, Munich, Germany; and the International Print Exhibition, Portland Art Museum, Oregon.
Yan was born in Hang Zhou in 1957, graduated with his B.A. from Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in 1983 and began teaching at Hubei Fine Art Institute. He is currently deputy director and a first class artist of Shenzhen Fine Art Institute and the curator of Shenzhen International Ink Painting Biennale. His exhibitions include: The West Lake in My Dream: Yan Shanchun’s Works 2004 – 2005 (2005, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong), ‘West Lake’ series (2006, Contemporary Ink Painting Methods, Tianjin, China), Exhibition of Yan Shanchun’s Works (2006, Zhu Qizhan Art Museum, Shanghai, China).
About Galerie du Monde
Founded in Hong Kong in 1974, Galerie du Monde has been specializing in modern and contemporary works by internationally established Chinese artists for over 40 years. The gallery also nurtures and promotes emerging talent, presenting a varied programme of solo and group exhibitions with a strong focus on works of art on canvas, paper, sculpture, photography and new media. To celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2014, Galerie du Monde introduced the GDM Projects series to strengthen the gallery’s support to a wider group of artists from different nationalities, providing them the opportunity to exhibit outside of their own countries.