Dragons in the Lion’s Den
Chinese Contemporary Art

“The beginning of the tradition of Chinese painting can be traced back to ancient stone-age porcelain.  The art form evolved from monochrome to colour and flourished for more than three thousand years, long before writing developed.  The ancient practice of porcelain painting emphasised resolve and purpose rather than the expression of shape and detail and this approach was highly influential on Chinese painting.

The use of calligraphy and rice paper are key elements of Chinese painting.  Rice paper shows the flow of ink and the movement of the brush stroke and the traditions of calligraphy and painting are intimately connected; ink and paper are used for both and both are characterised by the same simplification and abstraction.

In the middle of the late nineteenth century, China opened its doors, partly for reasons of trade and partly due to foreign force, and the flow of Western style paintings in China increased gradually with Western styles welcomed as they became more fashionable.

An increasing number of Chinese, having studied Western art in Europe began to advocate Western aestheticism, leading some artists to begin to challenge the traditional methods used to represent beauty.

Conflict was inevitable between the desire to protect the traditional practices and applying Western techniques and approaches to Chinese painting”.

Abstract by Lo Jhy-Yen

In Dragons in the Lion’s Den, Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery in association with Ping Works, a UK creative hub, brings you an exhibition of contemporary Chinese art – a collection of some of China’s best up and coming artists from establishments like the China Academy of Art, the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing, Western establishments like the Slade School and Central St. Martin’s and including accomplished self-taught artists.

Artist Profiles

Yinjie Sun – Exhibition Curator
Yinjie Sun was born in China, studied at the China Academy of Art from 2005 and at London’s Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design.  In 2010, one of his works was purchased by the Museo Ramon Ma Aller Museum in Spain and three works were purchased by the Sunshine International Art Museum in Beijing for their permanent collection.  He studied calligraphy and Chinese painting and traditional western old master’s paintings.   His earlier works are about people’s daily routines, highlighting the nature of humanity. With China’s modernization and the gradual loss of its historical legacy, his current work depicts the social change and moral degradation in China, capturing the social change and moral crisis in his motherland.

Chao Lu-Chia
Chao Lu-Chia’s Wonder series is the work chosen for the exhibition publicity materials.  He is a graduate from the Department of Art, Tainan University of Technology.  He was also a student at the National Taiwan University of art (now called the Taipei National Taiwan University).  He has participated extensively since 2000 at various exhibitions in Taipei and Taichung, including a number of solo exhibitions.

Funa Ye
Funa Ye was born in 1986, in Yunan, Kunming, China.  Educated at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China and obtained her MA in Fine Art at the Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design in 2009/10.  Between 2008-11, she exhibited in a number of exhibitions internationally – at the Bargehouse OXO Tower, the Today Art Museum in Beijing, the Mednarodni Grafini Likovni Center in Ljubljana, the Galerie Anne De Villepoix in Paris,the MOCA Museum, Shanghai, and the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.

Hou Zhichao
Hou Zhichao graduated with B.A. (Hons) in Fine Art at the Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design

Liu Jin-Cheng
Liu Jin-Cheng was born in China and works as an artist between Beijing and London.  In 2007 he was the Royal Institute of Oil Painters Exhibition prize winner.  He graduated in 1982 with a BA degree from the Fine art department of Capital Nomal University, Beijing, China and in 1989 studied as a post graduate student at the Slade School of Fine Art in London.  He has exhibited in many one man exhibitions since 1990 in London and Italy – Aosta Exhibition Centre, Italy; Albermerle Gallery; Sedgewick Art Gallery.  He has also done many group exhibitions in Italy and London – Chianciano Terme Art Museum, Italy, Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, Victoria and Albert Museum and National Portrait Gallery.

Lo Jhy Yen
Lo Jhy-Yen is a Chinese artist who was born in Vietnam in 1952. He loved painting from a very young age and has since developed a passion for Chinese calligraphy and painting.  He came to the UK in 1981 with his family as refugee.  1993-96 he embarked on the China’s Yellow River photographic project, shooting subjects along the 4350Km (2700miles) of the river. In 2001 he switched medium to painting & relief.  He now works in mixed media paintings focusing on the strength of colours, and the characteristics of different materials. His exquisite colours contrast but remain in harmony and his paintings are popular with collectors particularly in the USA and Middle East.  In 2008, he founded the Yellow C Group a collective of artists devoted to developing new techniques, styles and ideas.  He designed multi-layered paper-cut painting as a modern art form.

Lori Endo
Lori Endo graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  He has exhibited extensively including in Chicago and Hong Kong as well as a solo exhibition in 2009 in Tokyo, Japan.

Ma Bo
Ma Bo is a full time artist working in Beijing and qualified with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the China Academy of Art.

Master Simon Wong
Master Simon Wong is originally from China and has been a British resident since 1978. Master Wong is a spiritual Master, a Feng Shui Master, a professional Chinese Astrologer, an artist, musician, songwriter, scriptwriter and author.  Master Wong does not give names to his paintings. The Tao Te Ching states: The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal Name.  When the Master uses the finger to point at the moon the student should not just be looking at the finger. The finger is just a tool pointing to the direction. Painting is the same, the medium that is used is not important, it is the mental expression behind the art work that gives a picture its spirit. After perfecting his artistic style for the last 40 years, Master Simon Wong is now exhibiting and selling his work.

Nei Chun-Mei
Nei Chun-Mei was born in 1977 in Ji Lin Province, China. Chun-Mei has been interested in painting & drawing since a very young age, especially skilled at freehand drawing with full of imagination.  In 2002 she received her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at the Central Nationalities University in Beijing, China.  Chun-Mei furthered her training at Cavendish College in London, where she received a Diploma in Graphic Design.  In 2006 Chun-Mei then obtained a Master of Arts degree in Illustration & Design at Sunderland University.  At the present time she is living & teaching art in Beijing, but joined Yellow C Group in 2009 when she was in London. She shows great interest in the use of multi-layers papercut as an art form.  She has participated in various art exhibitions – the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath, November 2010 in Windsor Contemporary Art Fair, and in February 2011 at the Royal College of Art, Kensington, London.

Qing Qi
Qing Qi’s work explores the complex relationship between culturally specific issues and larger developments of a modern/post-modern age. Within this context, she tries to appropriate and transform both conventional Chinese aesthetic idioms and contemporary Western vocabularies to negotiate the cultural differences between past and present, self and other.  Qing Qi’s works relate to Chinese philosophy of an aesthetic evaluation of the composition- “Ma-Hsia style”. Using Photoshop to put this calligraphy into pictures, she changes the calligraphy into two different ways which stand for Chinese philosophy- Yin and Yang. Qing Qi attempts to convey new representations of the encounter between Western and Eastern aesthetic and spiritual tradition.

Qian Wu
Wu Qian has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Illustration from the Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design and is a full-time artist living in London and is also a member of the Halo Arts Association.  Qian Wu has won many awards from shows in 2009 at Nippon Steel USA and an exhibition in Chicago.

Shal Fu
Shal Fu was born in 1987 in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China and studied at the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts, Ceramics Studio from 2006 to 2010.

Shoran Jiang
Shoran Jiang studied Chinese traditional painting and achieved her BA and first MA degree in Nankai University, China. After coming to the UK, she studied fine art and got her second MA degree in fine art in Chelsea College of Art and Design. She focuses on the inner feelings of women, and tries to explore these feelings from a woman’s point of view. She develops Chinese traditional techniques from a modern standpoint, creating new two layers drawings, which gives flat artwork a new third dimension. Shoran Jiang has experimented not only with shapes and representation but also with ideas of empowerment that concern women. Despite the shock content of the concept, the strength of Shoran Jiang’s work lies in the fact that the work is visually attractive, and therefore cleverly sublime in the delivery of its serious thought-provoking content. That somehow sets it apart from many other artists.

Sun Xiao-Xiao
Sun Xiao-Xiao was born in 1982, and is a London based Chinese professional visual artist having worked in a variety of media, film and art productions across China and the U.K.  She is also a wildlife campaigner.  She has won many photography and film awards in China, London, Japan, Mexico and Korea.  Her artist statement would be: ONE’s DESTINATION IS NEVER A PLACE, BUT A NEW WAY OF SEEING THINGS.  For Sun Xiao-Xiao, the feeling of strangeness is very important, not only for taking photos or making a film but for life itself.  An excellent new artwork or any great work is the one that can make a difference.

Tian Mu
Tian Mu was educated at the Beijing Institute of Graphic Communication School of Art and Design with BA (Hons) Media Art.  He also did a postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art at the Chelsea College of Art and a M.A. in Fine Art at the Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design.  He currently lives in London and has participated in various exhibition in Beijing and London.

Wai Wong
Wai Wong a.k.a. James is an artist based in Hong Kong and London. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Beijing. His practice expresses his inner feelings and thoughts and relates to contemporary society and the environment. He is also interested in the decorous social persona and the inner human natures in his paintings.  His art is related to modern architecture in different countries, and presents an imaginative metropolis in his paintings, which shows the emptiness and loneliness of people’s live.  He is currently earning his MA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design in London

Wei Hang-Shan
Wei Hang-Shan is full time artist living in London.

Yang Kai
Yang Kai believes that mainstream traditional Chinese culture is vanishing.  Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhist, so representative of the Chinese value orientation, are no longer strong enough to influence modern Chinese in terms of the major significant decision making in their life. Yang Kai uses Chinese traditional ink as the medium that combines modern concept and language to memorize the disappearing cultural memory in people’s mind. Every single memory is like a cultural monument that will live in there for good.  He works in his favourite medium, Chinese ink and paper to paint following the Chinese tradition. He thinks this traditional Chinese art form is the most appropriate to the memory of traditional culture.

Zhang Xingyue
Zhang Xingyue was born in Jilin China, one of the coldest cities in my country. She started to learn studying Chinese brush painting and calligraphy when she was four. She was trained at Central Saint Matins College of Art and Design (BA, Fine Art), Wimbledon College of Art (Foundation) and Beijing Concord College of Sino-Canada. Her work is always characterized with Chinese elements and during her 4-years stay in the U.K., she realized the huge cultural differences between China and the Western world.  Her current work is now influenced by her understanding of the two cultures.  Since her childhood in China, she has specialised in painting the water lily, her favourite flower.  Her wish is for Western audiences to understand Chinese culture and art.  In 2010-2011, Zhang Xingyue exhibited in Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Bargehouse, Oxo Tower and Cork Street Gallery London.

~ by smokehousegallery on May 4, 2011.

One Response to “DRAGONS IN THE LION´S DEN.”

  1. […] An Open Space Artist’s Discussion addresses issues raised by the current exhibition DRAGONS IN THE LION´S DEN, at the Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery, Hackney Wick (6th May – 3rd July […]

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