Hotspot Songzhuang: Fang Lijun & Ren Rong
30.08.2020 – 18.10.2020
In the artists’ village Songzhuang, located east of Beijing, numerous artists once settled in order to escape the narrowness and high cost of living of the capital. The then tranquil village has now become a hotspot for art. Originally, the artists here sought the simplicity and tranquillity of rural life and direct dialogue with one another. Both Ren Rong and Fang Lijun are among the artists who were drawn to the tranquillity of Songzhuang – today one of the largest artist colonies – in order to be able to work there in a concentrated manner.
Fang Lijun was born in 1963 in Handan, the Chinese province of Hebei. In 1989 he completed his studies in printmaking at the Central Art Academy in Beijing (CAFA). His international breakthrough came with his participation in the 1993 Venice Biennale.
As one of the most prominent representatives of a young, at that time unusually garishly colourful, striking painting, he already emerged in the mid-1980s, drawing with a simple ductus mainly young, bald men, sometimes grinning, sometimes amazed, but above all often presented in densely packed coexistence. This stereotypical repetition of figures and actions stands for the uniformity of social togetherness. It testifies to the influence of Russian-style Socialist Realism on the one hand and the striking staging of figures within American Pop Art on the other. In particular, the consumer-oriented character of Pop Art, which calls into question the norms of art, can be heard here. Lijun thus creates a conscious approach to Western art and yet maintains a critical distance to both styles. Early on, this painting was called Cynical Realism.
Fang Lijun knows better than almost anyone else how to realize his paintings as large-format prints – partly divided into several parts. Especially the colour intensity of his woodcuts is remarkable. In the centre of his works is always the human being, often trapped in large crowds or even lonely lost in a big sea of worlds. Fang Lijun underlines the sensitivities of a society in which the individual is almost nothing, but society is everything.
Ren Rong was born in 1960 in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. Shortly after his artistic education in painting and calligraphy in Nanjing, he moved to Germany in 1986 to perfect his education at the art academies in Münster and Düsseldorf.
Already at an early age he succeeded in becoming nationally and internationally known. His paintings are characterised by a reduced formal language in which he achieves the symbiotic unity of the “plant man”. The latter becomes a leitmotivic figure, which in variations, associated with different attributes, shapes his pictorial world. For him, this motif is at the same time a symbol of the close, albeit idealised, fusion of man and nature. As steel or iron sculpture, shiny or rust-red, wood or silhouette, watercolour or print, wood, wax or lacquer work, these abstract-concrete hybrids are symbolic of a human coexistence, whereby Western and Chinese art are combined.
In his latest works Ren Rong occasionally turns to the Chinese tradition of landscape painting, which he echoes in his abstract frottages. His latest room installation of floating spades with mask faces speaks of crowds, de-individualization and pain. It is precisely the reflection of the shadows emanating from these masks on the wall that transfers the pure material in its rich abundance into an almost mystical scenario. In its modern guise it almost conjures up the shadows of the past.
A catalogue (german only) accompanying the exhibition will be published during the exhibition period. Non-binding reservations are accepted at the museum’s ticket office.
Fang Lijun, Untitled, 2016, 244x366cm, woodcut, 2016