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Massimo De Carlo, Hong Kong

Hong Kong. Nov 5. @massimodecarlogallery opened the solo exhibition of Chinese painter Jing Kewen. The artist offered a glimpse into mid-to-late Twentieth-Century China with his realistic imagery and typical painting style of the time. One might feel the urge to view the works as a form of propaganda due to the resemblance of the art seen in 20th-century communist posters in China and Russia. For better or for worse, the paintings were meant to, rather, express Kewen’s fond memories from his childhood.

Cloudless 2009. No. 1. JING KEWEN. 2009.

The work depicts a smiling nurse holding a stethoscope. The painting is done in the classic style of 20th-century realism, although its expressive nature and exaggerated features set it apart from the European counterparts. Much like most of Kewen’s later works, the piece is flat and rather than employing any specific references of the period it was inspired by, expresses the feeling of a distant memory, not too socially-charged, but emotional and engaging.

Cloudless 2018. No. 1. JING KEWEN. 2018.

In Cloudless 2018. No. 1, one can notice a change in Kewen’s style. The subject of choice is no longer a person or a group of people, but a blooming tree, juxtaposed against a dreamy cyan backdrop, pushing softly towards the territory of surrealism. The brushstrokes here are much more defined and textured (as common in oil paintings and was generously employed by the likes of Van Gogh).

Going to Beilin Museum. JING KEWEN. 1990.

One of the earliest Kewen’s works presented this season, ‘Going to Beilin Museum’ is an image conjured directly from the artist’s childhood. It is not ‘some’ metaphysical person, but a very physical and very real Xi’an street captured at dusk. The work might be the most realistic of Jiwen’s oeuvre, and also the most detailed one. We see infinite perspective in the path framed with trees that go from featuring defined leaves to merging into dark clouds as the pavement stretches deep into the painting.


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