Yuan Yuan, Humid Region, 2011; oil on canvas, 180×170cm

Edouard Malingue Gallery announces the first solo exhibition in Hong Kong of Hangzhou artist Yuan Yuan on Wednesday, 19 September, 2012. Yuan Yuan is gaining critical acclaim on the international art scene thanks to his distinctive paintings focusing on architectural subjects that convey a unique atmosphere.

Yuan Yuan’s subjects are mainly interiors – some once grand such as great halls with neo-classical arches and balconies, others more modest such as entrances of old apartment buildings. All share a sense of abandonment and dereliction, offering just a glimpse of their former glory. According to Yuan Yuan, ruins give us a sense of security. They are also public places which people may visit. In his paintings, Yuan Yuan tries not to describe a place now, but to identify the residual traces of what a place used to be in the past.

In his most recent work, Yuan Yuan focuses further on enclosed spaces, such as the narrow alleyways between old buildings. Frequently, the viewer looks through a gate or bars at whatever lies beyond. Sometimes Yuan Yuan manipulates architectural details to create new spaces of his own. As a result, the scenes he depicts seem to lie somewhere between reality and illusion.

Yuan Yuan’s compositions are highly structured and orderly, dictated by the geometric details of the architecture depicted. However, what sets Yuan Yuan’s paintings apart is the incredible detail with which he describes every individual surface within the composition. In particular, Yuan Yuan is fascinated by mosaics and patterns of tiles, whether on floors, walls, or lining pools and showers.

Yuan Yuan’s meticulous skill in depicting mosaics is unparalleled. Not only capturing thousands and thousands of tiny individual tiles in a single composition, he is able to play with an infinite variety of hues within the same colour scheme to produce a stunning visual effect. The atmosphere often feels humid in his paintings, with water in pools or dripping from the ceiling or decaying walls, and the mood is slightly wistful and melancholy.

At first glance, Yuan Yuan’s paintings seem devoid of any human presence, yet this is not quite the case. Yuan Yuan wants to represent people by depicting traces of their activity in the past. Thus, at the same time as describing in microscopic detail every element in a scene, Yuan Yuan also conveys a sense of passing time, of transition and history.

About the artist

Hangzhou artist Yuan Yuan (b. 1973) is gaining critical acclaim on the international art scene thanks to his distinctive paintings focusing on architectural subjects, executed with impeccable technique and conveying a unique atmosphere.

Born in Zhejiang, Yuan Yuan studied in the Oil Painting Department of the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, where he gained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1996 and a Master of Fine Arts in 2008. As a secondary school student, he also studied traditional Chinese painting which influences his thinking. The Academy, founded in 1928, was the seedbed of modern Chinese art after its founder Lin Fengmian turned to the West in a bid to reinvigorate Chinese painting. When Yuan Yuan was studying there, while Chinese society was still very conservative, the Academy was “like a sunroof, always open for us” and he benefited from a library well stocked with foreign periodicals.

Yuan Yuan is inspired by Western artists such as Richard Long (b. 1945), who creates “art made by walking in landscapes” – sculptures which are lines or circles made from natural materials, and photographs of them. Yuan Yuan admires Long’s ability to go to places other people cannot reach, and awaken the viewer by letting them experience such places. He also cites the late Cuban-born American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996), whose work “successfully places private sentiment in the common consciousness.”

About the exhibition

Duration: 20 September 2012 – 10 November 2012

Venue: Edouard Malingue Gallery

Address: First floor, 8 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong

T +852 2810 0317

F +852 2810 0311

E-mail: mail@edouardmalingue.com

Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 7pm

Courtesy of the artist and Edouard Malingue Gallery, for further information please visit www.edouardmalingue.com.

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