Wang Yan Cheng
Wang Yan Cheng’s majestic abstraction is a hybrid of East and West, ancient and contemporary, and his remarkable skill and intuitive spirit.
Cheng 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. Cheng is the first Chinese artist to receive three medals of honour from the French government, and his paintings are incredibly sought after, selling for over $2,000,000 USD. 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.
- Work in collections inc. UNESCO, Paris, Museum of Fine Arts, Beijing, Museum of Fine Arts, Shangdong, Institute of Fine Arts, Shangdong, Ancient City Hall, Shanghai
- Solo show, Movement at Galerie des Tuiliers, Lyon, 2020
- Solo show, Wang Yan Cheng at Acquavella Galleries, New York, 2019
- Solo retrospective, WANG YAN CHENG at the National Museum of History, Taipei, 2014
- Appointed Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, 2006
Cheng 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, Cheng conveys an essence of life, emotion and the universe, placing us within the cosmos of his artistic world.
Nature is an important theme for Cheng. 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, Cheng 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 Cheng’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, Cheng’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, Cheng 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.
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