Galerie du Monde is pleased to announce Memories of West Lake, the first ever solo exhibition in Hong Kong by established Chinese female artist Wang Gongyi (b. 1946, Tianjin, China) from 3 November to 14 December 2017. Showcasing 11 paintings created from 2013 onwards, the works seek to reinterpret the traditional Chinese landscape, each taking nature as the inspiration for their contemporary forms. These works recount Wang’s memories of the West Lake in Hangzhou, China, a place that continues to deeply resonate with her.
The exhibition introduces Wang Gongyi’s tenacious affinity for natural elements as a central inspiration for her practice. Alluding to traditional Chinese landscape paintings and the abstract visual language that has been inherently part of modern art in the last three decades, Wang’s works are characterized by a sublime knowledge of compositional balance and sensitivity towards the
nuances of tone and color, which has been attributed to her extensive academic training in China and abroad. Wang Gongyi’s visual language also speaks to the principles of Buddhism, a balanced simplicity with hidden depths that has long been an inspiration for her life and work.
The most iconic work in the exhibition is Peach Blossom, a multi-paneled work on Xuan paper, which extends over two meters tall and eight meters long. Despite limiting her main color palette to red, Wang was able to meticulously and vividly paint various tones of the striking hue across all 18 fragments of the painting. With an impressionistic wash effect to portray the variations of red
found in a peach blossom, Wang sensitively evokes sentiments of passion, love and life. The red blotches resemble blood cells meandering through the capillaries, ostensibly representing a beautiful naissance of life upon the dawn of spring. The tree trunks attempting to penetrate through the domination of red blossoms symbolize the dynamic forces on a pictorial form. The fragmentation
of this painting disrupts the congruous pictorial style of traditional Chinese ink painting, and presents multifaceted narratives as well as emphasizing the spatial relationship between the artist and this chosen scenery.
Another mono-color work is from the Windsor Blue series, painted between 2013 and 2016. Wang Gongyi has always maintained her connection with Buddhism and it was her familiarity with this philosophy and her expedition with abstract art that made possible the sensitive, strong, harmonious, yet naturally flowing character of Wang’s work. In this series, Wang has broken down the
conventional forms of traditional landscape paintings, blurring the values within the system of contrasts with astonishing variations in tonality to depict the intrinsically complex essence of nature. In these mono-color works, her forthright employment of various densities of blues portray earthy elements meandering along the gorges, the valleys and the streams, while the fine balance between the softened forms and emptiness engenders a sense of space.
Painted between 2016 and 2017, one salient feature of the Lotus Diary series is its raw power of gestural strokes juxtaposing with the style of the other paintings in the show. Using charcoal to imbue strength in her marks, made against a background of ink, watercolor and acrylic, Wang brings new life to these recollections of natural landscapes. The lotuses are characterized by an
agitated and an unrestrained energy that defies our idealized memories of nature as a soft and subdued realm. The surface is swathed with rhythmic black lines intersecting with the lotuses, which transforms the chaotic scene into a statement of the multifaceted aspects of nature. This aesthetic departure indicates how Wang Gongyi capitalizes on the dualities of softness and wildness of nature based on her observations of the West Lake in Hangzhou.
The Hong Kong presentation follows on from the recent showing of these works as part of Records of the West Lake, a joint exhibition with fellow contemporary Chinese artist Yan Shanchun held at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou earlier this year.
“Galerie du Monde is proud to present a much deserved solo exhibition of Wang Gongyi in Hong Kong. Not only a significant female Chinese artist in the medium of print making, I also consider Wang to be a trailblazer in contemporary Chinese ink art as she has an innate ability to distance herself from the omnipresence of culture and to evoke compelling sentiments in her artworks.”
– Fred Scholle, Founder and Chairman of Galerie du Monde
Wang Gongyi, Fred Scholle (Founder and Chairman), and Kelvin Yang (Managing Director) will be attending the opening reception on 2 November 2017, and are available for interview upon request.
About the artist
Wang Gongyi (b. 1946, Tianjin, China) graduated in 1962 from the Affiliated High School of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. She joined the Tianjin People’s Fine Arts Publishing House as an editor in 1973. In 1978, she entered the Printmaking Department of the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now the China Academy of Fine Arts), and after receiving her degree there she remained as a teacher. In 1980, Wang was awarded the grand prize for her Qiu Jin series of woodcut prints at the ‘Second National Youth Art Exhibition’. Six years later, she was chosen as one of the four artists set out on a cultural exchange program to France. By 2001, the artist had moved to the United States, where she is now based in Oregon.
She has exhibited extensively globally. Her recent solo exhibitions include: Exhibition of Wang Gongyi’s Works (Zhejiang Art Museum, Hangzhou, China, 2013); Wang Gongyi’s Art Work (Tianjian Academy of Art Museum, Tianjin, China, 2010); Wang Gongyi – Works on Paper (Laura Russo Gallery, Oregon, USA, 2009). Her recent group exhibitions include: Records of the West Lake
(China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China, 2017); Wang Gongyi and Yan Shanchun Joint Exhibition (Galerie du Monde, Hong Kong, 2016); Living Legacies: The JSMA @ 80 (Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, University of Oregon, Oregon, USA, 2013); Exhibition of Wang Gongyi’s Works (Zhejiang Art Museum, Hangzhou, China, 2013); and 2012 Ink Painting: 2012 International
Ink Painting Exhibition and Symposium (National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, Taipei, Taiwan, 2012).
Wang Gongyi’s works are in the collections of many museums and organizations, including: The Vivian and Gordon Gilkey Center for Graphic Arts, Portland Art Museum (USA); The USC Pacific Asia Museum (Pasadena, USA); The National People’s Congress (Beijing, China); The National Art Museum of China (Beijing, China); China Academy of Art, (Hangzhou, China) ; Shanghai
Art Museum (Shanghai, China); The Liaoning Provincial Museum (Liaoning, China); Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum (Jiangsu, China) ; and the Zhejiang Art Museum (Zhejiang, China).
About the exhibition
Opening Reception with Artist Attendance: 6:00 – 8:30 pm, 2 November (Thursday), *RSVP* Essential
Exhibition Dates: 3 November – 14 December 2017
Venue: Galerie du Monde, 108 Ruttonjee Centre, 11 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie du Monde, for further information please visit