Tan Ping: What Is Painting 1984-2021
Curator: Cui Cancan
5.15 - 6.30, 2021
Beijing 1st and 2nd Space
Tang Contemporary Art is proud to announce the opening of a major retrospective for Tan Ping, entitled “Tan Ping: What Is Painting 1984-2021”, held in both of the gallery’s Beijing spaces at 4 p.m. on May 15.
Curated by Cui Cancan, the exhibition will showcase more than one hundred drawings, oil paintings, prints, and videos, offering a complete overview of Tan Ping’s creative career since 1984, as well as his most recent work from 2021.
Tan Ping: What Is Painting 1984-2021
As one of the leading figures in Chinese abstract art since the 1980s, Tan Ping has provided us with a rich and complex body of examples of how to reshape the grammar, structure, and experimental methods of a medium; in the process, his work has become an important reference in the Chinese contemporary painting scene.
In a painting career spanning nearly 40 years, Tan Ping has witnessed many waves of artistic ideas. In the early 1980s, he engaged with traditional academic realism and naturalism, but after 1984, he moved on to a formal interest in still lifes, landscapes, and figure paintings and the study of Surrealism and Expressionism. In the early 1990s, experiments with blocks of color, line, black and white, spatial sequences, and other materials appeared in a series of prints and oil paintings that began Tan’s visual exploration of abstract art. After 2000, his formal experiments shifted towards a broader range of painted actions, including calligraphy, scrawl, repetition, and layering.
After this point, abstract art was just a vehicle or a tool for Tan Ping. He drew freely from Minimalism, conceptual art, happenings, Fluxus, action painting, and site-specific art to play with the ideas of washing, grafting, and rebirth. From his studies of form, Tan moved toward a study of painting and the mechanisms, conditions, styles, and concepts that produced it. His painting moved from the two-dimensional toward the three-dimensional, toward action, toward the site-specific. He eventually returned to the origin of painting, to the essential and foundational grammar of painting, in an attempt to respond to the medium’s simplest yet most difficult question: What is painting?
Is painting a point, a line, a plane, or a symphony of the three? Is it form or concept, process or result? Is painting the product of rationality, design, and modules, or is it inspired by perception, passion, and spirit? This series of questions informs his philosophy of painting, a set of diverse values and broad visions for painting after realism.
In the post-1980s context of globalized contemporary art and post-modernism, Tan Ping imbued painting with new meaning. Painting is no longer an extension of classicism or realism; it connects post-war contemporary art and different aspects of Eastern and Western culture. He broadens the discussion of abstract art into a form of artistic reflection. He has become more interested in the artistic definition of abstraction than its formal manifestation. Instead of a mode of abstraction that is neither simply realist nor representational, he examines an open, diverse, and heterogenous world of painting that cannot be defined or conceptualized.
Painting is the confluence of time, space, and an individual. Only one person has had these personal, present, and past experiences. However, with conviction and ambition that has lasted nearly 40 years, Tan Ping has created endless experiments that ask, “What is painting?” and offered that to us as a shared experience.
Acrylic on canvas 300 x 400 cm 2016
Acrylic on board 50 x 50 cm 1984
Acrylic on cardboard and collage 110 x 79 cm 2020
Acrylic on canvas 300 x 400 cm 2015
Acrylic on canvas 200 x 200 cm 2019
Acrylic on canvas 200 x 300 cm 2021
Acrylic on canvas 200 x 200 cm 2020
Acrylic on canvas 160 x 200 cm 2021
Acrylic on canvas 150 x 120 cm 2021
Chromatic woodcut 78.5 x 120 cm 2012
b.1960, Chengde, Hebei Province, China
Tan Ping is an artist, educator and vice president of Chinese National Academy of Arts. He graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1984, studied in Germany in the late 1980s’ and received a master's degree and a Meisterschule degree. He also was the honorary doctor of Kingston University, dean of the Design Institute of China Central Academy of Fine Arts and vice president of CAFA. He is regarded as the leading figure of Chinese abstract art, the pioneer of the contemporary Chinese art design discipline and the promoter of Chinese experimental art discipline. Through 40 years of art practice, Tan Ping has been exploring many fields such as painting, printmaking, multimedia, design and so on. In his continuous changes and his creation full of tension, many important aspects of contemporary art were running through consistently.
Recent Exhibition: 2012 “A Line”, Tan Ping Solo Exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China; 2013 "Murmurs", Tan Ping Solo Exhibition, Meilidao International Art Institution, Beijing, China; 2014 "Follow My Line", Tan Ping Solo Exhibition, PIFO Gallery, Beijing, China; 2015 "Tan Ping: Follow My Line", ASU Art Museum, Tempe, USA; 2015 "Drawing: The Art of Tan Ping", Ginkgo Space, Beijing, China; 2017 "The Certainty of Uncertainty", Leo Gallery, Hong Kong, China; 2017 "……", Yuan Art Museum, Beijing, China, 2017 "FORMFORCES", Leo Gallery, Shanghai, China; 2017 "TAN PING", Horsens Museum of Modern Art, Horsens, Denmark, 2018 "Tan Ping 1993: The Beginning of Two Modules", Platform China, Beijing, China; 2019 "Duet: A Tan Ping Retrospective", YUZ MUSEUM, Shanghai, China; 2020 “2020: Tan Ping Site-specific”, Artron Art Center, Shenzhen, China etc.
Personal Achievements: 1984 Graduated from the Printmaking Department, Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing; 1984 – 1989 Lecturer, Printmaking Department, CAFA; 1989 – 1994 Won the West German Cultural Exchange ScholarshipDeutschen Akademischen Austauschdienste (DAAD) Master of Arts and the degree of Meisterschule in the Free; Art Department, Kunst der Hochschule, Berlin; 1994-2002 Director of Design Department of CAFA, Professor; 2002 – 2003 Director, School of Design, Professor, CAFA; 2003 – 2014 Vice President, CAFA; 2014－Present Vice President, CNAA
Important Collections: National Art of China, Beijing, China; Today Art Museum, Beijing, China; Portland Art Museum, Portland, USA; Ludwig Museum, Aachen, Germany; Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China; Shenzhen Art Museum, Shenzhen, China; Qingdao Art Museum, Qingdao, China; Artron Art Museum, Beijing, China; Museum for Modern Visual arts, Kolding, Denmark; Longmuseum, Shanghai, China
Cui Cancan is an active Chinese independent curator and critic.
He has won CCAA (Chinese Contemporary Art Award) Art Review Award for Youth, Critics’ Award in Chinese contemporary art by YISHU, Annual Exhibition Award by Art Power 100, Nominee for Lincoln Curator Prize by TANC Asia Prize, The Best Artist Solo Exhibition of the Year Award by Chinese Contemporary Art News, Best Exhibition Award by Gallery Week Beijing, Annual Curator Award by Art Bank, et cetera.
Since 2012, he has curated almost 100 major exhibitions, including group exhibitions like Hei Qiao Night Way (2013), Rural Wash, Cut and Blow-dry(2013), FUCKOFF II (2013), Unlived by What is Seen (2014), Between the 5th and 6th Ring Road in Beijing (2015), The Decameron (2016), Rip it Up (2017), Spring Festival Projects (2018) , The Curation Workshop (2019) and Nine-Tiered(2020). He has curated artists’ solo exhibitions such as Ai Weiwei, Bao Xiaowei, Chen Danqing, Chen Yufan, Chen Yujun, Feng Lin, Han Dong, He Yunchang, Huang Yishan, Jiang Bo, Li Binyuan, Liu Gangshun, Liu Jianhua, Li Qing, Li Zhanyang, Ding Muer, Ma Ke, Mao Yan, Qin Qi, Sui Jianguo, Shijiezi Art Museum, Shi Jinsong, Shen Shaomin, Tan Ping, Wang Qingsong, Xie Nanxing, Xia Xiaowan, Xia Xing, Xiao Yu, Xu Zhongmin, Xu Xiaoguo, Zong Ning, Polit-Sheer-Form, Zhang Yue and Zhao Zhao et cetera.