Artists re-create 'gongbi' spirit with a contemporary approach

By Lin Qi | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-27 07:20

Artists re-create 'gongbi' spirit with a contemporary approach

Jiang Ji'an's paintings and installations on show endorse an idea of ready-made art. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The highly realistic style of gongbi painting (meticulous brushwork) began to form some 2,000 years ago and created brilliance in Chinese art. Even though it is in decline today, contemporary artists are trying to enliven it with experimental approaches.

Among the established artists who make endeavors is Jiang Ji'an. The Beijing-based artist uses tea leaves to produce pigments for painting and then uses them to create small installations.

He then pairs the paintings and installations together to form a work that conveys a scholarly temperament that was hailed in Song Dynasty paintings.

In his work, he is inspired by French artist Marcel Duchamp's ready-made art concept, in which installations are created out of everyday objects.

He says that although his works involve little use of gongbi techniques, he endorses a philosophical understanding of the material world that is essential to the spirit of gongbi.

Ren Lihan, who graduated in September from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, explores the connection between past and present in his works.

He reproduces on a piece of paper images and inscriptions from ancient stone tablets, and details Buddhist figures on a semi-translucent layer of silk.

He then fixes the two paintings in a frame, the silk above the paper, to create a dialogue between the past and the present.

Artworks by Jiang and Ren are on show at an ongoing exhibition, the 10th National Exhibition of Chinese Gongbi Art, a triennial art show.

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