LONDON — Chang Qing (b.1965), an established portrait painter from China will present his version of contemporary realism to a British audience for the first time, at his forthcoming solo exhibition (Un)social Realism at Cookhouse Gallery Chelsea College of Arts this September (15th-20th).
As endorsed by Chairman Mao in the 1970s, “The life of the people…provide literature and art with an inexhaustible source, their only source”; socialist realism has been deeply rooted in modern and even contemporary Chinese art history. Although Chang Qing is a painter of “the life of the people”, you will not find any propaganda DNA in his works. In Chang Qing's first London exhibition entitled (Un)social Realism, he will present 30 works created between 2012 and 2015, illustrating the often difficult yet interesting life and strained social conditions of the most ordinary people, in the fast-developing Chinese society. In these paintings, there are no perfect heroes, but instead a mixed cocktail of blind masseuses, potbellied street-food eaters, bombastic businessmen, lonely gate guards, and mischievous domestic cleaners. Through carefully observed compositions, Chang Qing unveils the current social issues of the marginalized lower classes in a contemporary, urbanized China, chronicling like few others, their all but invisible existence.
“The series (Un)social Realism are simply my observations and representations of daily life. These 'clips' may be outwardly trivial but I pay attention to the lives lead closest to me, and I’m interested in the true state of life of people around me. Unavoidably, this series also contains my own judgment and interpretation of what I see” says Chang Qing.
Chang Qing created the series (Un)social Realism based on the daily snapshots taken by his smartphone or camera over the period of 2012-2015. Although smartphone and social media penetrate our life exponentially, and there are countless selfie-portraitures generated every second, Chang Qing still sees the irreplaceable meaning of the existence of portrait painting today. He believes, “painting, in particular portrait painting, is a pure and magical act, which will be permanently the preserve for those with the talent and innate ability of draughtsmanship.”
Teaching oil painting at China Academy of Art for more than two decades, Chang Qing is best known for his oil painting. However, Chang Qing painted the series (Un)social Realism all with ink and rice paper, the media of Chinese traditional painting. The shifting from canvas to rice paper, is not only because of the influence by the artist’s father who was an ink painter, but also Chang Qing’s relentless endeavour of seeking changes in his artistic career. By combining his advantages benefiting from years of accumulated experience in oil painting, Chang Qing is ambitious to bring something new to the field of Chinese ink painting today and innovate ink painting in his way.
As Li Xiaoshang says, a daring Chinese art critic who provocatively claimed the dead end of traditional Chinese painting and criticized the nihilism in 1985,“Chang Qing’s works announced the other end that ink painting can achieve, instead of utilizing any ready-made templates and schema”.
(UN)SOCIAL REALISM – CHANG QING SOLO EXHIBITION at Cookhouse Gallery, Chelsea College of Arts (16 John Islip Street, London SW1P 4JU) will open daily 15 -20 September 2016.
About Chang Qing
Chang Qing was born in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China in 1965. He started painting enthusiastically as a child. He studied oil painting at China Academy of Art and became a teacher at the school after his graduation in 1989. Currently, Chang Qing lives and works in Hangzhou as a professional artist, as well as the professor of the Oil Painting Department at China Academy of Art. His paintings have been widely exhibited in China as well as in Singapore, Japan, Germany, USA, etc. Paintings by Chang Qing have also been acquired by leading museums and art institutions in China, such as the Shanghai Art Museum, the National Art Museum of China, and Zhejiang Art Museum.
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