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Love Between a Fish and a Bird

Yan Ping

21.02.2024 | 30.03.2024
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MASSIMODECARLO is delighted to present Love Between a Fish and a Bird by Chinese artist Yan Ping, marking her second solo exhibition with the gallery, and her debut exhibition in London.

Yan Ping is one of the pivotal figures among contemporary Chinese female painters. Rooted in the socio-historical context of 1970s China, Ping navigated through a period characterised by societal evolution and personal struggle. However, central to Ping's allure is her resilience, epitomised by an unwavering optimism and a receptiveness to life's myriad challenges - an ethos that informs her artistic oeuvre too.

Ping's artistic journey commenced with her seminal Mother and Son series in 1991, a watershed moment where Ping candidly channelled her feminine consciousness. This marked the inception of her distinctive artistic signature, which resonated deeply within the Chinese artistic sphere, earning her considerable acclaim.

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Drawing from her rural upbringing and immersion in indigenous opera and acrobatics, Ping infuses her work with cultural resonance. This reflects a conscious engagement with her roots and a commitment to exploring themes embedded in Chinese cultural heritage.

Amidst the prevailing Western artistic paradigms, Ping's canvases assume a dual role. The artist’s works transcend mere aesthetic representation, embodying a nuanced dialogue between tradition and modernity, heritage and innovation.

Marking her inaugural exhibition in the United Kingdom, Ping unveils a profound fascination for British culture. Her admiration extends to revered artists such as Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, and David Hockney, alongside a deep appreciation for the ambiance of the Royal Academy of Arts and the enduring elegance of classic British fashion. Beyond cultural confines, Ping's artistic expression evokes a romantic and timeless essence.

Music, too, serves as a significant source of inspiration for Ping. Influenced by the melodies of The Beatles, her works exude a soft, sweet, yet rebellious vitality that enlivens her canvases.

The exhibition title itself, Love Between a Fish and a Bird, finds its origins in a song written by Chinese singer Cui Jian, resonating deeply with Ping's artistic sensibilities.

"I am a bird in the air, you are a fish in the water.
I don’t eat you, just to put you in my mouth.
Sometimes it’s wind, sometimes it’s water."

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The exhibition encapsulates the delicate interplay between romanticism and pessimism, reflecting on the inherent fragility yet beauty of life.

The exploration of life, encompassing aspects of youth, natural landscapes, fauna, and the inherent poetics of our surroundings, emerges as a central motif in Ping's artistic oeuvre. Jiaodong Bay vividly portrays a scene where teenagers congregate by the sea, encircling a central pink inflatable swan boat. Within this composition, Ping captures the essence of youthful desire, which she perceives as imbued with purity, courage, and boundless happiness. The Wind Comes presents a seemingly simpler composition, featuring a young man and woman standing amidst a leafy lakeside backdrop, animated by the gentle stirrings of wind and flickering reflections of trees.

Love Between a Fish and a Bird, invites visitors into the evocative landscapes that have long stirred the artist's creativity. Despite geographical divides, Ping's worlds capture universal narratives of life, humanity, and our intrinsic connection to nature. Through her authentic brushwork, Ping unveils the essence of reality, crafting an exhibition that speaks to the depths of introspection and familiarity.

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The Artist

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Yan Ping

Yan Ping (b.1956, Shandong, China) attended Shandong University of Arts in 1979, graduated in 1983. In 1989, Yan Ping attended the Oil Painting Department at Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA). She is now a professor of School of Arts, Renmin University of China, director of China Artists Association, as well as the director of China Oil Painting Society.

Yan Ping has exhibited in many important museums such as Suzhou Art Museum (2023), Shandong Art Museum (2021), National Art Museum of China (2020), Jining Art Museum (2019), Museum of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute (2018), Palais Brongniart (2016), Today Art Museum (2016), and Xi’an Art Museum (2012). Her works are included in prominent collections, such as National Art Museum of China, Shanghai Art Museum, National Center for the Performing Arts (China), Suzhou Museum, Xi’an Art Museum, Zhuzhong Museum, Hongyi Museum, Fang Yuan Art Museum.

Yan Ping portrait