YUAN Space is pleased to present an exhibition of carefully selected paintings of the great Chinese painter Yu Youhan. Under the title “ 一斑 yībān” the exhibition is dedicated to giving a large overview of Yu Youhan’s various work periods. Early and late abstract works, such as landscapes, his famous political pop paintings and very early expressionism paintings will be presented in Yu’s first solo exhibition in Beijing.

Yu Youhan’s sophisticated paintings are heavily saturated with his own language of form. Tiny specks and marks run throughout his entire work. These infinite variations of spots and strokes might seem meaningless at first, but actually hide a richer spiritual content. The title一斑 yībān can be understood as starting from a small point, but directing straight towards a bigger structure, perhaps towards a vast spiritual world. As the pronunciation of 一斑 is the same as 一般, common and mundane. Yu’s modest, indifference to fame and self-deprecating nature characterizes him not only as a person, but also as an artist.

Throughout his works the influence of the classic modern painters can be clearly distinguished. Lines can be drawn to Cezanne, Chagall or even Van Gogh, but clearly displaying characteristic traditional Chinese techniques. A strong tension is created by combining elements of French impressionists with components of Chinese iconography. His powerful expression captures the viewers’ attention. Especially his abstract works reveal a very unique practice of forms, colors and elaborate brushstrokes. At times, his marks appear thin, subtle and delicate, but then surprise by their bold thickness. Every stroke has its own individual personality. At times it appears his paintings act like organic microcosms and release associations to cellular forms and to botany. Yu uses muted monochrome shades, demonstrating a highly sophisticated spectrum of color. Often the borders between figurative and abstract seem to blur. His choice of color varies; sometimes bold and vigorous, sometimes subtly discrete. An elaborate orchestration of lighting creates beautiful contrasts between light and dark planes. A subtle eclecticism of different styles plays an important role in his body of works and decisively contributes to his game of dazzling the viewers’ eyes.

It is his proper formal vocabulary, underlined by a distinguished flow, which figures the combining element throughout his various themes. Regardless of which work period, the artist leads the viewer through maze-like forms and patterns, arranging a confused, misty state of mind, leaving him to confront by himself the sensational effect without giving any concrete answers. His oeuvre demands an emotional approach and the viewer is free to read his work however it speaks to him.

Yu Youhan is mostly known for his big format abstract paintings and humorous political pop. This exhibition is not only showing some of Yu’s most famous works, but also offering a unique possibility to see his early works which are not easy to come across in publications. YUAN Space is proud to present these mostly small paintings on paper, which have never been exhibited before.

Yu Youhan born in 1943 in Shanghai studied art at the Central Academy of Art & Design in Beijing. After his graduation in 1973 he pursued his painting, which he never really abandoned. He was one among other Chinese Artist to be exhibited for the first time at the Venice Biennale in 1993. Yu has widely shown his work in many important art institutions in China and abroad, and has contributed a significant part to Chinas Art History.

About the exhibition

Duration: June 23rd to August 17th, 2013

Venue: Yuan Space

Courtesy Yu Youben and Yuan Space, for further information please contact +86 10 57755060 or media@yuanspace.cn.

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