May 24 – Jun 29, 2019
Tang Contemporary Art is pleased to present Chen Danqing: Disguise and Paintings from Life, a solo exhibition of oil paintings by Chinese-American artist Chen Danqing. The show marks Chen’s first major solo presentation in Hong Kong and his first exhibition with the gallery. Curated by Cui Cancan, it showcases Chen’s latest figure paintings from live models.
Chen Danqing is one of the most important painters in the history of Chinese contemporary art. Born in Shanghai in 1953, he created propaganda posters as a teenager depicting the feats of Mao Zedong. He took an interest in painting at a young age, constantly studying works by Western artists to improve his technique. Chen was particularly influenced by the works of the Realist painter Jean Francois Millet whose works were featured in the group exhibition Exhibition of French Rural Landscape Paintings from the 19th Century at the National Art Museum of China in 1978. In 1976, Chen visited Tibet and painted Harvest Fields Flooded by Tears that earned him early recognition. His growing interest in Tibetan people and their life resulted in visiting Tibet for the second time in 1980 and producing numerous life-drawings, sketches later realised in the form of paintings. He graduated from the Chinese Academy of Fine Arts in 1980 and participated in the graduation exhibition showcasing his most well-known series of Tibetan paintings.
The medium of painting allows Chen Danqing to orchestrate the viewer’s interaction with work, therefore producing a flow of pictorial associations. According to the artist, “key elements of painting include composition, colour, genuineness, rhythm and idea development. Painting definitely has limits, you cannot release yourself through the process of painting. Painting can no longer provide so-called ‘nutrition’, which is why I do not care about what I do. In this sense, all the people that are still into painting are immoderate.”
Chen’s latest works were produced in collaboration with models from China Bentley Culture & Media Company and renowned stylist Xie Xing. He worked at the studio of artist You Yong from the Chinese Academy of Oil Painting. The models’ height encouraged the artist to create large-scale life paintings for the first time. By integrating influences of Western aesthetics with Chinese culture, Jean-François Millett’s technique is manifested in chromatic brilliance of Chen’s paintings.