Journey Exhibiting Artists Introduction I
Our latest exhibition Journey is on view until March 26. The exhibition, titled Journey, invited six post-80s artists, including Xu Zhen, Yan Zhancheng, Yang Xun, Zhang Ben, Zheng Mengqiang, and Zhou Dong, to showcase their recent artworks. They have years of practice in painting and thus have slowly established their style. Journey, as a medium for experiencing the world, provides opportunities for creative expression. Painting, as a direct way of communication, eliminates the existence of time barriers. Using painting as the medium to preserve ideas, artists explore the spiritual and philosophical aspects of art, embarking on a journey of never-ending exploration.
This article will introduce two of the artists, Yan Zhancheng and Zheng Mengqiang. All kinds of people we met on the journey are memorable. In Yan Zhancheng and Zheng Mengqiang’s paintings, the characters were depicted uniquely thus metaphorically revealing the soul of artistic creation.
闫占城 Yan Zhancheng, P,
2022, 布面油画 Oil on canvas，120 x 100cm
闫占城 Yan Zhancheng,
起初是黄色的 It was Yellow Originally,
2022, 布面油画 Oil on canvas，300 x 220cm
In Yan Zhancheng’s painting, the characters seem to have a special narrative power that brings people into the specific setting. The artist uses soft and loose brushstrokes to illustrate their facial features. With some melancholy feeling, the man and women that were depicted avoid eye contact with the viewer, looking straight out of the picture frame. And these real-life characters, or virtual avatars, are interwoven with the various clues to build a scene, sometimes shrouded in a veil. The viewer cannot help but ask them to speak their mind.
Yan Zhancheng once described his creative process as follows: "The memories of reading and travel are transformed into color blocks, into a specific color that is stored in the memory, and finally come back to form a combination of pictures." 1
郑孟强 Zheng Mengqiang, 白兰湾 Bailan Bay, 2023,
布面油画 Oil on canvas, 200 x 150cm
On the other hand, the characters in Zheng Mengqiang's paintings are more intimate and ambiguous. Under the warm sunlight, two figures, a man and a woman, enjoy their leisurely time. They either recline on the balcony or lie down on the beach as if they are having the most cherished conversation. Or they are suddenly pausing in the middle of the dialogue, enjoying a moment of tranquility under the warm breeze. Whether it's the unangular silhouettes or the soft low saturated colors, the painting has a warm power to soothe the restlessness in the heart. Under the frenetic daily life and the steel and concrete of urban living, who would not want to find a private space to spend some cozy time together just like the characters in the paintings?
In his works, Zheng Mengqiang tries to recreate those fragments of memories that have faded away in time but settled deep in his consciousness. Therefore, the characters, the subjects of his works, are often framed in a subtle moment, hovering between ambiguity and detachment, hiding signs of intimacy and vulnerability. In the imaginary space emptied of emotions, they speak of the softness of human nature and the power of self-reflection in a still and obscure manner.2
艺 术 家 介 绍
Yan Zhencheng was born in 1984 in Yan’an, China. He graduated from Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts Oil Painting Department with a bachelor’s degree in 2018. He currently lives and works in Beijing, China.
Zheng Mengqiang was born in Fujian, China in 1987. He was graduated from the Oil Painting Department of Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts in 2011. He currently lives and works in Beijing, China. Zheng Mengqiang's works are based on his experiences and emotions, searching for inspiration from personal memories and self-perceptions.
His works attempt to explore the poetry of painting. Although the initial ideas may originate from real-life fragments or cinematographic images, he restrains his momentary inspirations and emotions, and after a long period of brewing, he reorganizes and refines the picture elements, forming an abstract geometric composition through the generalization of forms and the division of color blocks, creating a clear figuration of non-reality. At the same time, the use and selection of colors are also heavily generalized and refined, weakening the contrasting relationship of colors and revealing a more hazy and mysterious sense with the almost monochromatic soft colors. This introspective and sensitive quality of his images gives his works a more romantic realist meaning.
Content based on a dialogue with Yan Zhancheng
Content based on Zheng Mengqiang’s Artist Statement
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