Executive Director, Zhu Qizhan Art Museum
The ancient talked like a duet, the modern converse in a dialogue. According to the tradition of Chinese intellectuals, reverence for the great is what an erudite artist feels. The double identity as scholar and artist enables Yan Shancun to steer – by practicing and exploring the ink and form – a dialogue with his inner world so as to gain a delicate, original experience. His thinking and practicing also enables him to taste the fun in the tradition of intellectual painting. Standing in a high level of art, Yan uses his creation as a response to the challenge and allusion in his heart. In the meanwhile he draws on the cognition to refresh the context of his metaphysical thinking.
With great savvy on semiology and its deduction in the Western modernism, Yan is adroit at gathering scattered but contemporary and figurative thoughts, which facilitates him to forge his personalities culturally influenced by the traditional. Yan’s works on paper produce, with a few touches, flashbacks of the West Lake in his hometown Hangzhou. And some simple, concise images arise from the real and the conceptual. His latest productions that were actualized with ink, acrylic and many materials and techniques involved in tempera depict the unforgettable hometown. To this end he extracted the visual residues – whether conscious or subconscious – and filtered the vintage formative style so as to achieve a sense of both caprice and austerity. Yan can travel easily back and forth along the lineage of intellectual painting while making his unstrained renovative contribution to the system of art history. The dialogue he enacted was also preprogrammed by Yan himself. Within a no more silenced text system, his discourse shows somewhat artist’s high ambition. Against the global background and with the speedy cultural import-export, Yan has had an increasingly more realistic and open context. Evidently, he is about to meet up with a longer resonance.
Yan’s words and paintings remind me of Wang Wei (Tang Dynasty)’s self-mocking yet pretentious verse: a poet I am but a painter I was in the preexistence.
I mast have been an artist, but now I have being thought of as a poet.
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