Portrait series of Tong Yanrunan
Gantuya Badamgarav, Curator of Mongolia Pavilion in Venice Art Biennale 2019; Founding Director of Mongolian Contemporary Art Support Association.
When I heard about portrait series of Tong Yanrunan, I wondered what could be the reason for portraying well known people. Nevertheless, I never asked him about it, but tried to understand through his works.
The first thing I realized was the size of his work, which is pretty small. And the second thing which made me wonder was how these small sized works can have such monumental character. Furthermore when I looked at the faces, they seemed to me like clay or stone, non-living. But with little more attention, I was able to sense the motion on their faces and got a feeling that they were speaking to me. And I tried to understand the relationship between monumental characteristic depicted through Tong Yanrunan mastery and popularity of these people. I looked at the faces again and was able to read protective gestures and unspoken bold statements written on the faces of these people. Suddenly I realized that I was standing in front of sculptures of ego and self-statements. Is there strict correlation between growing popularity and ego?
In my opinion, Tong Yanrunan possesses outstanding ability to study diverse characters and carefully explores mental and physical associations rooted in various personalities. And his brush strokes with thick-paints depict various personalities as if they were different mountains, shaped through the ages by winds, storms, waters and snows.
His works share some similarities with Lucian Freud figurative portraits, but Tong Yanrunan brushes float freely and works possess more abstract nature.
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