Friday, April 3, 2015

Wang Yidong - China Realism


A few years ago I stumbled across the work of Chinese realist artist Wang Yidong.  It was like finding hidden treasure in your backyard.  The more of his work I found, the more excited I felt about his work.

Yidong was born in China in 1955.  In an interview done by Sotheby's he said that the first painting he ever saw was done in the realist style and it stuck with him.  He has exhibited his work internationally and his prices have been climbing up into very rare air, especially for a contemporary realist.



Yidong's painting Teasing the Newly Weds, No.2 Lucky Cigarettes went for $1.67 million at auction in 2008.

The quality of realist art coming out of China is exciting and compelling.  Look at some of the works on this site from an exhibition of realist work in 2012.  Much of this progress has taken place in the last 12 years with Yidong seen as one of the trailblazers for the movement in China.

I appreciate the bold color in many of his paintings.  I like the bright reds against the black and white backgrounds.  I also admire the craft and exhibition of skill in his work.  Yidong manages to walk the line between feeling detailed, but not overwrought.

Be sure to click on the images and see them full size.  Many of them are large and reward the viewer for taking a close look.


The image below shows a little of the canvas texture, which is interesting to see along side the highly finished surface of his work.


I find the painting below to be peaceful and dynamic.  The way her feet overlap slightly on the small stone she stands on makes me feel her balance is a little precarious.  She holds it for now, caught in this moment permanently by the artist.  The big dark shapes around her, set against her light clothing and the light grey rocks give this piece an interesting structure.





I think the next two paintings have such beautiful shapes.  The strong contrast of the values and the red against the black, grey and white is compelling to my eye.



The next two paintings are my favorite of his works.  The top image manages to capture contemporary clothes and style, but in a way that makes it feel as though it will stay relevant for many years to come.  Their poses feel very honest to me, almost spontaneous, but clearly working as strong intentional design elements.  Another painting that makes great use of the contrasts in color and value, this piece also has a strong dynamic to it even though the figures are at rest.


The last of his pieces to share today is just so beautiful.  The trees are as beautifully rendered as the figure.  I really love the structure of this piece, the trunks of the trees framing her and radiating out from a point somewhere below the bottom edge of the painting.  The tilted horizon also gives some movement to the painting, which would otherwise be held still by the figures pose and gaze.  He again finds that great balance in this piece, maintaining a liveliness in composition while have a static subject.


I look forward to seeing the wonderful works coming out of the important and strong "China Realism" movement in the years to come.

Thanks for giving my post a read today!

Howard Lyon
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12 comments:

  1. Amazing Howard! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. My pleasure. There is a lot of great work coming out of China. If you do a Google search for Wang Yidong, it will lead to a lot of other great artists too.

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  2. They are stunning. Thank you so much for sharing the pictures and your insightful comments :)

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    1. Thank you Steffi for giving the post a read and commenting!

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  3. No kidding. "New" (to me) realist painter from China - awesome on so many levels.

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  4. Oh my word, these are absolutely beautiful on so many levels. Thank you for the great article!

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  5. Thank you Howard. Enjoyed this post very much.

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  6. These are amazing - I see hints of Caravaggio, Turner and Caspar David Friedric - they have that kind of slightly surreal feeling to them. :-D

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  7. These are incredible. Thank you so much for sharing!
    http://tawnyfritzart.wordpress.com

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  8. Thank you for showing these. They are wonderful, indeed.

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