Gallery: Axel Vervoordt Gallery
Artist(s): Angel Vergara
Opening / Event Date: 18 Nov, 2023
Closing / End Date: 16 Mar, 2024
“In 2017, my soul lost its shines, just like the love that all beings have always had is gone. I’m all alone, but I don’t want to be lonely…I walked towards the universe, towards formlessness, and saw how time operated, as well as the new time and space and the light that is set to come. My soul is led by instinct, I see more clearly with my heart, understand my nature, and fulfill my wishes. Without the Degenerate Age, there is no future.”
– Ren Sihong
Whitestone Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of Ren Sihong, one of the most prominent Chinese artists who were born in the 1960s and have flourished since the late 1980s, significantly shaping China’s contemporary art history. The exhibition will showcase the artist’s works created in the last three years, the ‘Black and White’ series which started in 2017, ‘Value of Colors’, started in 2018, and ‘Spirit of Flowers’, started early this year during the pandemic period. Stepping away from his previous style, Ren has adopted an expressionist and abstract way of painting his recent works and hopes to enlighten the viewers through this intriguing energy.
Born in 1967 in Hebei, Ren Sihong found his talent in painting when he was young, and therefore enrolled in Oil Painting Department in Hebei Normal University and later on continued his study in Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. After graduation, he became one of the residential artists at the Old Summer Palace (Yuan Ming Yuan), the earliest artist village in China’s modern history (1989 – 1995), representing the most avant-garde and experimental spirits at that time. As Yuan Ming Yuan was removed, the artists had to find new places to establish their studios, various art villages and districts, such as Song Zhuang and 798 have been developed across the city of Beijing, and in 2006, Ren Sihong moved into No.1 International Art District. Like many artists who were born in the ‘60s, Ren experienced social movements that held collectivism and socialism at heart, therefore he tended to express his experiences and memories with a humorous, grotesque, and sarcastic approach. His oil paintings were selected for the 3rd Annual Exhibition of Chinese Oil Painting in 1995, and his work of sculptures were shown at ‘Voice of the Unseen’ exhibition at Venice Biennale in 2013.
Ren Sihong’s creative practices are continuously evolving. Every time he starts a new series, he has the urge to let go of what he used before and fight against old habits in order to create something different. The year of 2017 was a turning point for the artist, as his father passed away. Due to the great loss of his beloved father, Ren lost interest in shapes and colors, he dived into black and white as well as a “formless” way to paint. For him, it is as if walking through time, and resonating with the ups and downs. He is fascinated by the ‘void’ in black and white, believing that valuing simplicity can achieve more. Gradually he has healed himself through painting and has become stronger than ever.
Since 2018, Ren has reviewed the value of colors, and he started giving meanings to the three primary colors, red, blue, and yellow. For Ren, the color of red represents the Sun and energy, it is also the symbol of freedom and giving. Blue represents the Moon and wisdom, and yellow represents the Earth and morality. He turns the colors into elements of the universe and makes sense of the universe by using these colors. He witnesses the world experiencing a severe decline of morality in this era, therefore he encourages the viewers to open their hearts for emotions, love, and energy, which are the most valuable things in the world that can’t be measured by quantity – so to make the world a better place.
Since the beginning of 2020 with the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been fewer people around and the world seemingly comes to a stop. However for Ren, he senses that deep down there is some sort of undercurrent going on – it is something unprecedented, unfamiliar, and even fearful. He is excited to experience these and has more time to have conversations with himself. He opens up his heart like a blossom, letting something warm and pretty come to life. Therefore he started to paint flowers, using opulent colors and vivid brushstrokes to depict the spirits and hopes.
Ren Sihong strives to understand the rules of the world and humanity through painting, and during the process, he learns kindness. He hopes his work could bring the same energy to its viewers and leave them enlightened, even though it is not always the case – some people are frightened to see his work, intimidated by its forms and shapes. “When people are looking at an artwork, the artwork is looking at them in the meantime – how they see it also reveals their personalities, making them be honest with themselves.”
Opening Reception: 5 September 2020, 4 – 6pm
1967年出生於河北，任思鴻在年輕的時候便發現了自己繪畫的天賦，於是就讀於河北師範大學油畫系、隨後到北京中央美術學院入讀助教班。畢業後他入駐圓明園藝術村，這是中國最早成立的藝術家村落（1989 – 1995年），代表著當時最前衛和最具實驗性的精神。圓明園藝術村後被移除，藝術家們需要尋找新的地方作為工作室，由此北京的各個地區湧現出新的藝術家村落如宋莊、798等，而任思鴻在2006年搬入了一號地國際藝術區。如同許多60年代出生的藝術家們，他經歷了許多以集體主義和社會主義為中心的社會運動，更傾向用一種幽默、荒誕和諷刺的手法去詮釋自己的經驗和記憶。任思鴻的油畫作品曾於1995年入選中國第三屆油畫展，雕塑作品曾於2013年參加威尼斯雙年展的平行展《未曾呈現的聲音》。
任思鴻一直試圖通過繪畫了解世界的運行和人性，在這個過程中他學會了仁慈。他希望他的作品也同樣能把這股能量帶給觀者，儘管這不總能如願 – 有些人會在看到他的作品時感到害怕，被它的形式所震攝。“當人在看作品，其實也是作品在看人；它會揭示出觀者的個性，讓他們更加誠實地面對自己。”