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Mao Yan: By The Edge

Exhibition details

Opening / Event Date:
7 June, 2018
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Closing / End Date:
12 July, 2018
Event Category:

Pace Gallery is pleased to present By The Edge, Mao Yan’s third show with Pace, following the artist’s previous exhibitions in Beijing and New York. The show presents a series of ten new works completed in the past three years, including a continuation of the artist’s renowned “Thomas” series, as well as still-life and landscape paintings that present a broader development in Mao Yan’s oeuvre.  There will be an opening reception in the presence of the artist from 6pm to 8pm on Thursday, 7 June, 2018, and the exhibition will be open for public viewing until 12 July, 2018.

Mao Yan is widely considered as one of the most preeminent contemporary artists in China. In his work, Mao Yan depicts everyday faces with fine and delicate brushstrokes, guiding his audience to enter an era of meditation and tranquility against the fast-paced world. In conjunction with this, his works hold an essence of revere for the historical and heritage value within the art of portraiture. Each of the exhibited works display Mao Yan’s signature aesthetic of gray ashen tones. Along with layers and infiltration of oil paint, the concrete and explicit subjects are gradually translated into an abstracted analogy. Within both the portraits and still-life pieces, Mao Yan conveys a profound connection between his brushstrokes and emotions, creativity and an existential exploration. His poetic strokes transform portraits, objects and landscapes into a spiritual medium that surpasses the reality.

The exhibition presents the latest works within the artist’s most well-known portrait series, “Thomas”. Since 1998, Mao Yan has been using Thomas, originally an international student from Europe, as a model. The portraits of Thomas have been depicted, deepened and dismantled repeatedly throughout the past two decades until the subject is transformed into an ambiguous, vague and nearly imaginary face. In terms of artistic process, Mao Yan’s paintings are often based on photography, and although not directly engaging with a conceptual dissection of the medium, Mao Yan prefers to compose his works based on the photographs he personally took. This habit of his revealed the essence of the artist’s creation. Furthermore, being extremely patient in composing a visual representation of concrete objects, the artist initiated an inner self-conversation.

Drawing parallels between his own internal process and exploration, Mao Yan’s works personify the flux of the human psyche, infused with both frustration and resilience, through the depiction of the artists relations with his subject, be they object or person. To quote the Chinese writer, Han Dong, “he does not seek for agreement in the existing dimension, nor seek for any supportive answer from the illusion of future. He is more like a traveler, who turns and wanders around, as if his destination is fallen deep inside the history of paintings.”

Mao Yan (b. 1986, Hunan, China) graduated from the Oil Painting Department at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing in 1991. Named as the representative of Chinese Neo-realism by the renowned art critic Li Xianting, Mao Yan continuously explores the potential of portrait paintings in the contemporary art scene. With highly a recognizable painting style, the artist depicts the spirit in humanity beyond characteristics of a specific era of time. Mao Yan’s works have been showcased in many Chinese and International exhibitions, including two exhibitions of Ho Duo & Mao Yan at Nanjing Art Institute Art Museum (2014), Ethos: Mao Yan Works, Art & Public” in Geneva (2012), 30 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art at the Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai (2010), Longing for More; Mao Yan Solo Exhibition at the Shanghai Art Museum (2009), and Todays’ China at Beivue Museum in Brussels (2008). Also, many of Mao Yan’s works have gone to well-known public collections, such as Yuz Foundation, Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum of Art, Shanghai Long Museum, and Hong Kong M+ Museum. Mao Yan lives and works in Nanjing, China. He has been represented by Pace since 2013.


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