Pékin Fine Arts is pleased to host Posers, a group exhibition of portraiture re-examined by eight artists:
Huang Zhiyang 黄致阳（b. 1965, Taipei, Taiwan）
Lu Ming 卢明（b.1983, Hebei Province, China）
Shen Liang 申亮 (b. 1976, Liaoning Province, China)
Sheng Tianhong 盛天泓 (b. 1973, Zhejiang Province, China)
Shi Xinning 石心宁 (b.1969, Liaoning Province, China)
Ellen Takata艾伦高田 (b. Boston, USA)
Wang Luyan 王鲁炎 (b. 1956, Beijing, China)
Wang Ziwei 王子卫 (b. Shanghai, China)
Figurative painting relies on many tools both mechanical and psychological. Traditionally, figure paintings would serve those in power, presupposing an idealized man or woman. More recently, often relying on the manipulation of photographic images to achieve painterly postures imbued with apparent moral authority and a false sense of authenticity. Slowly, more individualistic pursuits ensued, where a successful figure painter could use the subject’s surface features as a stepping off point to a deeper understanding of both the inner life of the subject, as well as the inner life of the artist portraying the portrait-subject.
This co-dependent relationship between portrait-subject and artist is an uneasy one. Each observing the other, to see how each is perceived. A bond inevitably develops between artist and portrait sitting subject. In the best of the new psychological portraits, the figure as it is portrayed, holds the keys to unlocking the inner self. Not only the subject’s self but also the artist’s and even the viewer’s selves.
And what of posthumous portraits or famous figures of the artist’s imaginative pursuit, where the connection between artist and subject is less apparent? Often times, there remains an obsessive need to record in portraiture those already gone, whether an obsession with famous figures or private, personal friends lost to death. Ultimately, all figure painting possesses elements of self-portraiture, and the personal gesture as evidenced in the artist’s recording of his total absorption in the object of his/her pursuit. In the most successful artworks, these are totally original and honest personal pursuits, regardless of the actual figure represented. The work can be most compelling where the artist allows the viewer into his/her private space, to observe the artist’s struggles with subject representation.
The ruling tendency in Chinese contemporary art is no longer figurative painting. The pendulum has swung to abstraction, multi-media and other post-modern pursuits. Despite these trends, there remains a belief that figurative art can go further. For some, there is a strong belief that figurative art is more complex, can go deeper and achieve more, despite current trends to the contrary. Perhaps it is within these trend-defying spaces, where individual pursuits will drive the figurative artwork into new 21st century realms, heretofore unexplored.