“Practice of Portraits” ( a series of 5 works )

Last year (2011) I was working on this “Practice of Portraits.” There are a few pieces in which you can see figures through a light source projecting from behind the painting. But this time I want to use a new technique.
So I use my own newly-created technique called silk wrapping: first I paint a portrait on the first layer of silk mounted on rice paper mixed with alum liquid, then I wait for one week, and then glue them on to a hand-made envelope. Inside of this envelope, there is a digital print of the portrait, but you can’t see it at all. The whole thing is wrapped with with another layer of translucent silk, and then I paint on this layer as well. This is the first time I have employed this tecnique of double-layer silk, which from the images depicted in this work, to the materials used to depict them, nothing is separate or independent.


Throughout the course of Western art history portraits have always played an important role as a form, in terms of both paintings, and scuptures. However in the past, in Asian countries the most important part of artisitc practic was the landscape painting, which required skill and spirit. In portaiture we focus on what is an image, how can we make an image, on three-dimensional perspective. But landscape painting is not interested in the question of “What is the image?” Rather it is more interested in questions such as “Where is the image,” and thus it emphasizes the idea of process and of time, both second and fourth dimensions. In this series, I used a lot of pieces of silk for wrapping again and again. The half translucent paper-like silk not only gives a mysterious quality, but more important is how I use a material to address those issues of dimension in an artwork. One layer and another one layer, they are not brush strokes anymore; they are materials which you can see and touch, and I wrap them into the space where those brush strokes should reside: Are they Western or Eastern? Are they posed or real? Ar they made on purpose or are they just a coincidence? You can notice that even these pieces of silk are painted with strong sense of design and a decorative feel. I would like to call them decorative objects.

I selected fives male subjects: they are artists of the young generation who are living and working in Europe. For me, they represent contemporary art practice in its use of many different medias and fields. Then I painted them in a quite realistic way — you might compare them to the skills found in the painters of the former Soviet Union art but also the Italian and French preists who were working for Qing Dynasty Court.

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