Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong
Ben Brown Fine Arts presents the first solo exhibition of artist Qin Feng at its Hong Kong gallery. The exhibition will include a selection of Qin’s iconic monumental contemporary ink paintings from his acclaimed Portraits of the Great and Desire Scenery series.
Qin Feng’s dynamic brush and ink paintings represent a sophisticated amalgamation of Eastern and Western artistic traditions, philosophy and representation. While Qin employs traditional Chinese materials in his work brush, ink and paper—and paints in a calligraphic manner, his works are created with a physical vigour and scale evocative of Western Abstract Expressionist painters (it is interesting to note that many Abstract Expressionists were deeply interested in Eastern philosophy). Qin’s nomadic upbringing and lifestyle have informed the cultural fusions found in his work.
Born in 1961 in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of North-western China, Qin spent his youth herding sheep in the vast and rugged landscape of this multicultural region where Chinese, Uighur, Arabic, Hindu and Russian are spoken—languages which have all been incorporated into his work—and received no formal education until the age of 12. In the 1980s, Qin left the region to study traditional painting and calligraphy at the Shandong University of Art and Design and in the mid-1990s moved to Berlin where he was asked to curate a show to promote cultural exchange between the two countries and then teach at the Berlin University of the Arts. Qin later moved to the United States, living in New York City and then Boston, where he did a residency at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University. This lifetime of multicultural influences and experiences is pervasive in all of Qin’s work.
Qin’s work is characterized by his highly expressive, gestural brushstrokes and use of unconventional support materials, resulting in an entirely unique pictorial language that addresses notions of civilization, philosophy, mysticism and language. He often constructs his paper—a blend of silk, cotton, linen and rice paper—by hand, lays the vast sheet on the ground, and, standing over it, sweeps and drips a huge Chinese brush dipped in black ink across the paper with unrestrained vitality.
In the Portraits of the Great series, Qin has experimented with printing images of Western style 19th century gilded frames onto his paper, only to fill the voids with dynamic brushstrokes of black and red paint. These calligraphic, twisted, anthropomorphic brushstrokes become abstract portraits that actively engage with the traditional frames, creating a spirited dialogue between East and West, while the thin red lines of paint represent threads or arteries connecting past and present, life and death and seemingly opposing cultures.
Qin’s Desire Scenery series marks a departure from his typically black and white two-dimensional works, becoming an exploration in colour and materiality. The works are constructed with many layers of thick paper, torn and peeled back to reveal a lurid pink circular core. Qin regards the colour pink as the symbol of desire, lust and the most basic of human instincts. Unlike his splash and drip paintings, the unique physicality of this series comes from the artist building up and tearing away the paper, digging deeper to explore and reveal the essence of human desire.
Qin currently lives and works in Beijing. His work has been exhibited at institutions around the world, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Beijing; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Saatchi Gallery, London; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and Museum of Modern Art, New York and is included in many prestigious public and private collections.