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MASSIMODECARLO is delighted to present Silent Exuberance, Yan Ping’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Yan Ping (b.1956, Shandong, China) graduated from Shandong University of Arts in 1983 where she taught as a professor. She graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1991, and has been a professor at the School of Arts, Renmin University of China since 2003. 

As one of the most influential Chianese female painters working today, Yan Ping’s artistic career is highly significant. She experienced a special era during the development of Chinese society and a life of poverty in the 1970’s when she worked in rural China. What makes Yan Ping special is her capacity to face her life with an optimistic, open mind. Such spirit un-doubtfully transpires in her practice and has become the hidden theme of her artworks. 

Yan Ping’s inspiration comes from her personal experience and observations of society. She started her Mother and Son series in 1991, incorporating her female identity through a simple and unpolished perspective, which gradually became her signature style and earned great recognition in the Chinese art field. She then created the Chinese Opera series in 1995: paintings based on impressions of her life in rural areas during her early years, as well as her observation of local opera and acrobat performances. In that era, when facing the influx of Western art movements, Yan Ping’s paintings not only served as emotional representations of society, but also reexamined the role of local artistic elements in the western-centric narrative of contemporary art.

Besides, Yan Ping painted many flower still-lifes. Wings In My Heart is among Yan Ping’s latest works. “In late summer, I returned to my studio in my small town, to witness flowers blooming in my yard. At that moment, the roaring world quiets down. All is silent. I see only the flowers blooming. I hear only the new branches growing. The scent of flowers makes me think only about painting. With the war, the pandemic, and the covid tests all dissipate. The growth of flower branches is vigorous. Flowers draped with leaves are slightly bent, like the invisible wings in my heart.” Such experience creates an interesting comparison with Butterflies Are Free (2014), the artist’s self-portrait. Yan Ping defined herself as a butterfly coming out from its chrysalis, allegorically telling the story of enduring a restricted lifestyle in order to enjoy a free and beautiful future.

In Yan Ping’s creation, she loves inviting models and capturing their distinctive gestures and expressions, which directly affect her painting themes. Painting Studio In Greece (2016) depicts the scene of a studio she rented when she was in Greece with her students. The model in this image provided her with unique inspiration: “The model who came that day had tattoos on her feminine body parts, which made me feel amorous and thought about Picasso’s masterpieces drawn from his lovers as well as Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits dedicated to her sufferings and love. The excitement of the young students around me was also lively. I always observe the beauty of sex and look for inspiration.” In another work, Go. Where Are We Going (2018), the model stretched her body like a flying bird. Although she appears on the right side of the painting, her beautifully exaggerated gesture dominates the overall image, catching viewers’ attention at the first sight. 

In many of her paintings such as the Horses and Youth diptych and Upon the Mountain Peak, Yan Ping uses lots of dark heavy lines. The jumping and flying of her free brushstrokes are a reference to Chinese calligraphy. In addition to the intense composition, characters and space in her paintings seem to be distorted as a dream, filled with her surreal imagination. 

In the exhibition presented today at MASSIMODECARLO, the four flower paintings offer a sense of vitality and joy, with bright brushstrokes intertwined with each other. The lively colors represent hope, freedom and unrestrained spirit. Yan Ping once declared: “Every flower painting is a spiritual refreshment. In the past years, whenever I feel depressed or tired, I would give myself a bouquet of fresh blooms, forgetting connections to the outside world and enjoying the intimate moment with flowers.”

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