For the gallery’s first participation at the Westbund Art & Desing Fair, Shanghai, we will present seminal works by the American artist Mark Tobey (1890-1976), shown at the gallery for the first time in 1945, as well as the Cantonese artist Yang Jiechang (b. 1956), shown at the gallery for the first time in 1989. This year, Yang Jiechang is celebrating his 40th anniversary of collaboration with the French gallery.
Both artists, from West to East for Mark Tobey, and from East to West for Yang Jiechang, have had a spiritual path throughout their work
Born in 1890 Centerville, Wisconsin, Mark Tobey studied at the Art Institute in Chicago and converted to the Baha’i faith in 1918, whose teachings emphasize the oneness of all religions, people and aspects of the world which had a profound effect on his work. After moving to Seattle, he was initiated to calligraphy by his Chinese student Teng Kwei. The artist is now recognized as a vanguard figure, whose work anticipated the formal innovations of the New York School with artists such as Jackson Pollock. Mark Tobey’s unique style uses most of the time tempera paintings with an all-over composition, creating a unique style of abstract painting. After furthering his knowledge of calligraphy in Persia, Tobey traveled extensively through China and Japan in the 1930’s which would prove the foundation of his mature work. He states : "it was there that I got what I call the calligraphic impulse to carry my work on into some new spiritual dimensions; I painted the frenetic rhythms of modern cities, the interweaving light and the streams of people entangled in a big world net. He deployed it beautifully in his special series of white writing. His artistic career is entirely tied to his spiritual journey, and he is known as the artist who reconciled East and West in his work. Mark Tobey will be represented through a group of essential 10 works ranging from 1954 to 1970.
Yang Jiechang, born in Foshan in 1956, emigrated to Europe in 1989 when he was invited for the large exhibition Les Magiciens de la Terre at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. After being a red guard in 1970, the artist decided to study intensely calligraphy and Art History at the School of Fine Arts in Canton where he also studied ink paintings after practicing calligraphy. He then decided to study Zen Buddhist painting as well as Taoism. The real is without form seems to be the leitmotiv, which the artist has developed for more than 30 years, through both his abstract and his figurative painting phases, profoundly anchored in his life of accumulated experiences, his sensations and his perpetually changing and mobile knowledge which has been accumulated over more than 40 years.
Our presentation will show a group of 10 works from Yang Jiechang, from the 100 layers of ink series to the meticulous painting style. The unique historical serie of 100 layers of ink paintings from his trip to Mexico in the early 1990’s was exhibited at Centro Cultural Conemporaneo of Mexico City. The director Robert Littman had seen Yang Jiechang’s 4 monumental panels at the Paris exhibition Les magiciens de la Terre and thus decided to invite Yang Jiechang to exhibit in Mexico. Brett Litman expressed at the time : Yang only needs a lot of ink and it will be a great experience for him. And so he ordered a large amount of Chinese ink (Zhongua Mozi). When Jiechang visited the National Museum of Mexican History, he discovered with surprise that all these spiritual artifacts of foreign civilization seemed familiar to him. He made a series of drawings during the 45 days of the journey in Mexico. The vestiges of Maya culture became a kind of spiritual passage leading the artist home. A few works from this historical series will also be exhibited for the first time in Shanghai.