It’s not a matter of painting life, it’s a matter of giving life to painting.
— Pierre Bonnard
First, the painting must be well composed, including its surface. Then the artist injects the object with life, a soul.
Pékin Fine Arts presents Nashunbatu’s 3rd solo exhibition with the gallery, following his exhibition at Pékin Fine Arts (Hong Kong) in 2015. Born in Inner Mongolia in 1969, Nashunbatu graduated from university in Ordos, and earned graduate degrees in Germany. Today, he divides his time between his studios in Beijing and Frankfurt.
Nashunbatu is fluent in the Mongolian language, as well as Chinese, and also speaks English and German. He is typical of today’s artists from Mainland China emerging on to the international stage: Polymaths, well studied, well travelled, and actively engaged with Western and Chinese, (and Mongolian), contemporary culture, art history, literature and philosophy.
As an “Overseas Returnee” (part-time in China and full-time in Germany), and like many of his generation, Nashunbatu operates from the awkward vantage point of “outsider”, observing a rapidly evolving Chinese art scene with critical distance, while entrenched in German contemporary art.
Both ethnically (Mongolian) and by virtue of his German base, he is more cosmopolitan, more prone to deviate from Chinese art world trends and discourse. If representative of anything, his painting practice is a “sign of the times”, of the rich and unpredictable repertoire of a highly experimental painter, working occasionally from Beijing.
In new works, mainly completed in Germany, surreal and dreamlike figures come to the foreground, they are less obscured by his earlier predilection for vast landscape, now more isolated, and often literally de-contextualized. We don’t know who or what they are, we don’t know where they come from; some are hovering ghost-like, slightly above the earth. Nasun’s painting subjects are at the same time both narrative and abstract, deliberately out of sight, incomplete and unknowable. Nasun’s monochrome palette of earthy brown-green-black, only occasionally includes glimmers of light. In the latest works, he disassociates human, animal, and tree like subjects from naturalistic settings; replacing realism with moody imagery outside traditional representation.
Our eyes follow Nasun’s deceptively familiar objects and beings into unfamiliar territory, toward an idiosyncratic world of the artist’s imagination. These painted objects can only be the artist’s aesthetic incarnation, offering clues to the artist’s mood, and ultimately the mood of each painting.
Bits of representational painting together with abstracted elements are rendered with cool distance and sober thought, implicitly pondering the meaning of painting. Subjects are neither comedic nor romantic; rather, they remain dreamy and distant, just out of reach of the viewer’s understanding. These are fleeting and disjointed images of events to which we the viewers are never privy. We are not supposed to take them literally, we are only offered a window into the mood of fleeting moments, recorded for posterity by the artist.
— Meg Maggio, Beijing, November, 2017
The exhibition will remain on view through February 17th.