Tang Contemporary Art is delighted to announce the opening of our first exhibition at our Wong Chuk Hang Space in 2024, the international artists group exhibition "The Possible and the Elsewhere," which will be held on January 26, 2024. Curated by Fiona Lu and Huang Ying, the exhibition will present paintings by eight artists: Sophie-Yen Bretez, Demarco Mosby, Yowshien Kuo, Yuan Yuan, Wang Jian, Wei Minghui, Su Hang, and Jaeheon Lee.
Yowshien Kuo's artwork integrates the image of Asian Americans into surreal landscapes with a touch of American Western aesthetics. The television signal test pattern at the bottom of the image seems to be evidence of a glitch in the real world. The Asian figures in cowboy attire break free from stereotypes, appearing full-bodied and vibrant, like mythical gods. The diverse media employed transforms the artwork into a sensory stimulus, and everything outside the body is filled with desire: characters surrounded by old television sets, accepting the desires propagated by popular culture; the characters themselves are also filled with desires for certain things, blindly falling in love with ideals, cultures, or their own identities, but in this frenzy, they are actually unable to control the culture they are in.
In Sophie-Yen Bretez's paintings, the bare Asian female figures gaze back at the viewers, accompanied by the mysterious blue lobsters. Such autobiographical elements reflect the artist's exploration of personal history and identity. The horizon delineates the invisible boundaries of vast plains, evoking a collective nostalgia that is almost ethereal. The predicament of women and their dispersion returns to the intimate relationship between life and nature, as expressed in the poetic titles. The interplay of warm and cool tones, the harmonious contradictions in color and composition, coexist with the aesthetic beauty of form. While beneath the beauty and harmony, Bretez unveils that the essence is often one of pain, darkness, and sorrow.
Demarco Mosby's figures are outlined with loose and rugged brushstrokes, dressed in simple attire, holding a white bird, and trapped in stagnant waters. The clumsy gestures and blurred faces of the individuals in the thickly painted wilderness seem to be immersed in complex emotional confusion, visually metaphorizing primal human experiences and the psychological imagery filled with struggle, futility, and ambiguity. The allegorical narrative paintings provoke reflection on life: where does the true self reside in the repetitive journey of everyday life? Does the accumulation of emotional trauma bring underlying destruction or cultivate resilience?
In the absurdity of grey-toned everyday scenes, Wei Minghui's characters often appear trapped in a deadlock, stuck between action and stagnation. Within the awkwardness of the male figures crossing their legs, we find the fatigue discussed by Han Bingzhe, where the diminishing negativity in an achievement-oriented society creates a leisurely space that allows for lingering, providing a prolonged and slow observation. The artist focuses on familiar states and, through the dizziness, discovers that their essence is also an illusion that needs to be confronted.
In Su Hang's artwork, the cloud formations and solid rock forms in the surrounding environment of the composition seem to parallel the artist's contemplative processing of figures and subjects. Each character has their own direction of movement, whether on a journey or paying homage to the sun, creating immense tension arising from the conflict between belief and the reality of the situation. The deliberate choice of allegorical themes and stylistic prototypes rationalizes their contemporaneity through the repeated actions of painting, embodying the artist's struggle with issues of consciousness. Together, they form a radical yet restrained, heterogeneous narrative in painting.
Yuan Yuan's artwork reflects a greater pursuit of the ontology in oil painting. Yuan Yuan creates a sense of texture creating thick impastos by using a palette knife, and preserves the incidental products that emerge during the process on the canvas permanently. Everyday individuals, through intentional treatment, become entangled in the tension between realism and intense dramatic pulling, revealing glimpses of the external aspects of painting (realism and treatment) and the internal aspects (the spiritual essence of the painted subjects and the artist's own inner state).
Wang Jian, on the other hand, abandons more narratives and cleverly combines classical forms with contemporary life scenes, pursuing the artist's subjective expression and a pure visual experience. In the traditional pairing of women and indoor spaces, the sense of confinement and suffocation disappears, leaving behind the everyday ambience. The slender figures of the girls, whether facing away from the viewer or holding books with their faces unseen, exhibit a mysterious and resistant posture, with the individual features of the face hidden, emphasizing the embodiment of the body as a representative state. After deliberately removing the sense of portraiture, the girls present a certain homogeneity and flexibly move in different spaces as symbols.
The female figures depicted by Jaeheon Lee are comparatively more ethereal and subtle. Multiple faces and silhouettes overlap, existing boundaries are blurred, much like the features of the women themselves, which are obscured by the artist—body/soul, reality/fantasy, presence/absence, the living/the dead. Could these women be embodiments of Woodman? The space on the canvas is split from reality, and the brushstrokes become fragmented and conflicting traces left by the self. Everything is uncertain, dislocated, and fleeting.
Yuan Yuan Youth Two Oil on canvas 140 x 110 cm 2021
Yuan Yuan Youth One Oil on canvas 140 x 110 cm 2021
Yuan Yuan Xiao Hui Oil on canvas 200 x 200 cm 2018
Su Hang Fire in the distant Also named: That's the year people will talk about Oil on canvas 180 x 140 cm 2022
Wei Minghui Stop the Footsteps Oil on board 120 x 120 cm 2023
Su Hang Don't fucking drip it on me Oil on canvas 180 x 150 cm 2022-2023
Su Hang A Long Way Oil on canvas 150 x 180 cm 2022-2023
Su Hang Pray to the Sun Oil on canvas 180 x 150 cm 2023
Wang Jian The Maze Gate Oil on canvas 130 x 170 cm 2023
Wei Minghui You Don't Have to Stress Oil on board 80 x 100 cm 2023
Wei Minghui Work in Progress Oil on board 100 x 120 cm 2023
Yowshien Kuo Counting on the Most Extraordinary Inventions Acrylic, Bone Ash, Chalk Dust, Glitter, and Plastic on Aluminum 2023 183 x 152 cm
Yowshien Kuo What I purpose is to Inter-be Acrylic, Bone Ash, Chalk Dust, Glitter, Plastic, and Synthetic Fibers on Aluminum 152 x 152 cm 2023
Sophie-Yen Bretez Oh time! With clear, wandering flow, Within thy wave the sun whispers low And tell my soul-searching eyes Close to the sea the truth lies. - And in the middle runs a river. Oil on linen 120 x 170 cm 2023
Sophie-Yen Bretez In the fullness and depth of night, By the mountains, near the river, Fisherwoman of stars and light, Dreaming softly, fighting ever, You’ve been teaching me how to play - With stone, sky, wind and day. Oil on linen 120 x 150 cm 2023
Sophie-Yen Bretez Like the river running to the sea, Years and days in their wild race Spill drops of memories of gold and blue, Where sorrow and joy have their place, And suddenly, life begins anew, - And suddenly, it's dawn. Oil on linen 130 x 130 cm 2023
Wang Jian The Green Book Oil on canvas 70 x 50 cm 2023
Wang Jian Call From the Distant Hill Oil on canvas 100 x 200 cm 2024
Lee Jaeheon Figure in a Garden Oil on canvas 190 x 150 cm 2018-2023
Lee Jaeheon Figure in a Garden Oil on canvas 190 x 150 cm 2018-2023
Demarco Mosby With Your Hand in Mine Oil on canvas 152 x 122 cm 2023
Lee Jaeheon Viewer 016 Oil on canvas 190 x 150 cm 2021-2022
Demarco Mosby Solo Act Oil on canvas 122 x 91 cm 2023
b.1991, Kansas City, US
Lives and works in New York, US
Demarco Mosby is a New York-based painter who examines the depths of our internal-selves, using the human figure to both mirror and reveal the weight and complexity of life’s tribulations. By incorporating his symbolic vocabulary of objects like birds, ropes, rocks and landscape, Mosby creates layered narratives that visualize the complexity and disorientation of our emotional states. His paintings narrow in on an ambient anxiety to question the stability of our relationships, while also examining the internal forces that cause us to feel anxious, threatened, and isolated.
Mosby received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York in 2014 and his MFA from Hunter CUNY, New York in 2021. His work has been exhibited at venues such as Analog Diary, Beacon, NY; Leeann Gallery Daegu, Korea; Luce Gallery, Turin; Hauser & Wirth, New York; Lyles & King, New York and UncleBrother, New York.
b.1976, South Korea
Jaeheon Lee attempts to visualize existing forms and unknown spaces based on figures and landscapes. Lee explores the history of painting from the painter's point of view and melds the existential forms and unknown spaces onto the canvas. Jaeheon Lee’s paintings overlap several, sometimes two, three, or four faces on one body. The facial features and the repeated erasing of the brush strokes make it look far removed from reality as if a misty film has been applied; at the same time, the classical Western attire worn by the subjects gives the painting a sacred and religious impression. The contrasting composition of the face that seems to have been erased, the clothes depicted with lively brush strokes, and the background show the artist's consistent approach to capturing existential forms and unknown spaces on one canvas.
Lee’s works were shown at solo exhibitions in Korea and the U.S., as well as important institutions including the Seoul Museum of Art, SOMA Museum of Art, Gwangju Museum of Art, Jeonbuk Province Art Museum, etc.
b. 1994, Vietnam
Sophie-Yen Bretez earned a master’s Grand École at Neoma Business School in Rouen, France in 2018. In 2021, Bretez decided to follow her passion for art and began creating full-time as a self-taught artist. She currently lives and works in Paris.
Bretez’s style is marked by her iconic dream-like surrealist figuration and skillful depiction of complex emotional states like the state of recovery. Depicting her characters in semi-open spaces with a warm sunset or sunrise in the background, Bretez blurs the boundaries of the confined, sheltered ‘safe’ space one builds for oneself in moments of weakness, highlighting the ambiguity of the human condition of pain. Aiming at disrupting the traditional male gaze, Bretez utilizes reverse voyeurism with unwavering female figures confronting viewers directly, building distance and asserting their control over their own bodies. Embracing her introspection, Bretez names her works after her spontaneous and instinctual poems, adding another layer of dialogue between the work, the viewer, and herself.
Selected solo exhibitions include “Powerful, Despite It All,” JD Malat Gallery, London (UK, 2023). Bretez’s recent group exhibitions include “Volery Gallery,” Dubai (United Arab Emirates, 2024), “A Bold Harmony : Group Exhibition,” Tang Contemporary Art, Bangkok (Thailand, 2023), “Summer Exhibition,” JD Malat Gallery, London (UK, 2023), “All Together,” Lorin Gallery, Los Angeles (US, 2023), and “Woman, Empowered,” JD Malat Gallery, London (UK, 2022).
b.1996, Changsha, Hunan
Su Hang graduated from the Third Studio of the Oil Painting Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts with a bachelor's degree in 2019 and a master’s degree in 2022. He now works and lives in Beijing. Su’s creation revolves around the relationship between art and politics, exploring through painting based on his individual experience of social reality. Su Hang does not deliberately pursue a certain constant creative style, nor is he limited to forming recognizable personal symbols. He develops artistic practice through different methods. Most themes of his paintings are problem-conscious and based on multiple and specific personal experiences, he is committed to forming a method and language that matches himself in the process of exploration.
His recent solo exhibition “The Sleepwalkers,” took place at Cassoulet Gallery (Hong Kong, 2023). Recent selected group exhibitions include “Development of painting to avoid backward living,” Author Gallery (Beijing, 2023), “The Way Forward,” inner flow Gallery (Beijing, 2023), “If You Can See,” Tang Contemporary Art Center (Beijing, 2023), “Brand New,” inner flow Gallery (Beijing, 2023); “The Signature Move,” Y SPACE (Shanghai, 2023); “Rivers of Stars,” Shanghai Exhibition Center (Shanghai, 2023); “My Generation: The Art of Post-90s”, Shanxi Contemporary Art Museum (Shanxi, 2023); “Broken Spring,” Tanko · Moof land (Beijing, 2023); “Pin Imagination,” RCM (Nanjing, 2023); “Shadow of Image—The Media, Systems and Spaces of Contemporary Painting,” Xie Zilong Photography Museum (Changsha, 2023), etc.
b. 1987, Harbin, China
Born in Harbin in 1987, Wang Jian graduated from Minzu University of China specializing in Oil Painting. He now lives and works in Beijing. Often through the observation of the everyday living quarters, Wang Jian acquires a set of aesthetics familiar to the masses, composing one-of-a-kind scenes with a mix of mysterious and decorative qualities. His paintings strike a tender balance between the emotional poetic-ness of the brushstrokes and the rational thoughtfulness of the composition. The artist introduces himself by constructing this private, narrative space, where female figures as symbols of pure beauty are embedded in the canvas among signifiers of the delicate artistic language, resulting in an exquisite relational model between human, space, classicism, and daily life.
Selected exhibitions include: Addiction (2023 SOUL ART, Beijing), Inquiry to the Wall – International Young Artist Invitational Exhibition (2023 SOUL ART, Beijing), 2023 JINGART (2023 Beijing Exhibition Center, Beijing), Becoming Balthus’s Muse (2021 Dreamland Art Center, Beijing), The 8th Beijing International Art Biennale (2019 National Art Museum, Beijing) and so on.
b. 2000, China
Wei Minghui graduated from Henan Normal University in 2022, majoring in Oil Painting. The artist engages surrealist painting as the core of his creative language to salvage plenty of transient and paradoxical axes of time. The subjects of his images oscillate between nouns, adjectives, and adverbs, resulting in the form of humor derived from living mechanically. In this structure, all the common states are transformed into delusions that Minghui has to dispel, in order to restore the original motive for being alive.
Selected solo exhibitions include “The Crack Will Show Up on Time,” at OUTSIDER Gallery, Zhengzhou (China, 2023). His recent group exhibitions include “Where to Arrive,” at Tong Gallery+Projects, Beijing (China, 2023), and “Dream Bird,” at Tang Contemporary Art (Hong Kong, 2023).
b. 1985, US
Yowshien Kuo is a St. Louis-based artist working primarily in painting. His work blends his personal experiences as a Taiwanese American with historical references and criticism to comment on social and racial inequality, cultural constructs, sexuality, and the human condition. Kuo graduated with an MFA in 2014 from Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri. Most recently he was the recipient of the Great Rivers Biennial Arts Award 2022-23, having a solo exhibition at The Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis. His artwork has also appeared in many publications including New American Paintings #149 in 2020, where he was prominently featured on the cover. Kuo has exhibited throughout the United States and Europe.
b. 1971, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China
Yuan Yuan is a professor and doctoral tutor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. He is currently the director of the Oil Painting Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, the director of the first studio of the Oil Painting Department, a member of the China Artists Association, and a council member of the China Oil Painting Society. He was awarded the Silver Prize in Oil Painting at the 13th National Art Exhibition and the Excellent Talents of the 21st Century Award by the Ministry of Education. His oil paintings, including “Memory of Monument,” “Suhe,” and “Daughter of Dunhuang,” have been collected by the National Museum of China, National Art Museum of China, General Administration of Sport of the People's Republic of China, National Grand Theatre of China, Art Museum of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Fine Arts, and Taiwan’s Changliu Museum of Fine Arts, among other art museums and organizations.
Yuan Yuan uses oil painting materials and the means of topography to make “reproduction”: Yuan Yuan’s paintings are equal-sized human bodies, and the process of painting itself is a reproduction of human beings on the canvas, and then he uses a composite means similar to topography to realize a special picture language, trying to use “reproduction” as an artistic language to express the reaction of human beings in social life and their state of existence, and then to explore the possibilities of innovation in the language of traditional oil painting.