Wang Yan Cheng

East meets West in majestic, classically-realised abstractions by Wang Yan Cheng.

Wang Yan Cheng wearing a white laboratory coat sat on a stool by two paintings
close-up of artist's hand covered in paint as he layers colours onto a canvas
Wang Yan Cheng in his very large studio space where the floor is covered in paint
6 images

Wang Yan Cheng was born in 1960 in Guangdong, China, and now lives and works in France.

Collections

Works placed in prestigious collections worldwide including UNESCO, Paris; Museum of Fine Arts, Beijing; Museum of Fine Arts, Shangdong; Institute of Fine Arts, Shangdong and Ancient City Hall, Shanghai.

At Auction

Critically and commercially acclaimed, Wang is the first Chinese artist to be awarded three medals of honour by the French government and in 2016 one of his paintings was purchased at auction for more than $2,000,000 USD.

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Practice overview

Wang is a central figure in contemporary Chinese art. His work continues the legacy of Lyrical Abstraction, in particular, predecessors such as Zao Wou-Ki and Chu Teh-Chun. The energetic, colourful works use highly cultivated painting techniques to create surging abstract compositions. The works are wonderfully textural, with layers of oil paint added over long periods of time. Wang pulls influence from both Eastern and Western art history: Abstract Expressionism is paired with meticulous detail evocative of traditional Chinese painting techniques such as Gongbi, as well as landscape elements reminiscent of European Romanticism. Through his paintings, Wang conveys an essence of life, emotion and the universe, placing us within the cosmos of his artistic world.

Nature is an important theme for Wang. While his works are never fully representational, throughout his oeuvre, oceans, mountains and deserts are suggested through natural colour palettes and organic forms. Untitled (Triptych) (2018) is a large-scale oil on canvas made up of three consecutive panels that total 2.1 x 7.8 metres. Deep turquoise and aquamarine rush and spill across the canvas, with splashes of yellow and white that drip and foam like a roaring wave. Each gesture in the painting feels both spontaneous and considered, accumulating into a cacophony of colour and form that behold the pure and intimidating beauty of the sea. By evoking these natural forms on such an impressive scale, Untitled (Triptych) has the grandeur of a history painting that, instead of documenting an important moment or event, portrays the timeless power of nature, and our individual and collective responsibilities as part of it.

Through painting, Wang expresses the immaterial core of life. Drawing from Eastern philosophies such as Yin-Yang and Essence-Function, the physical and non-physical do not exist as binary entities in his work, but instead, are codependent. Titles such as Vase Composition or Night Falls on the Water ground Wang's abstract visions in reality, while the technical mastery of his work transcends a display of skill, and instead acts as a tool to convey emotion. Thus, Wang's painting poses a question: beyond the appearance of an ocean, a shape, or a colour, how does it make us feel? And, more importantly, how is this feeling constructed by the materiality that surrounds us and vice versa? Using the power of technique, Wang conveys our inner landscapes and spiritual connections to the world around us in his remarkable paintings that have already made an important mark on the art history of today, and will continue to do so into the future.