Vermillion Art Gallery offers in Australia a rare chance to see recent works from one of the leading figures from China’s ‘Youth Cruelty’ movement of painters. Born in the 1970s in harsh conditions, this group of painters emerged in the mid 1990s as the next generation of Chinese contemporary artists. Beijing artist Yin Zhaoyang is regarded as a leading representative of this group.
At a time when the Cynical Realism movement – juxtaposing commercial pop art images with propaganda art – was the dominant narrative by which the international art world came to notice Chinese contemporary art, Yin and his small group stayed close to the painterly traditions in which they had been trained in China’s great academies.
Thoroughly versed in the Western Masters, Yin’s work has moved from figurative to more abstract expression. What is unifying across his work is his intense, energetic, at times explosive, style no matter the subject. His work seems to vibrate from within the canvas.
With maturity and his establishment as a major international figure in Chinese contemporary art, with successful solo shows in the West and China, and sales through the major auction houses, his work has become more reflective and contemplative, but the subliminal energy remains, almost as if the work is breathing.
Over the past decade, Yin has turned to landscapes set in the ancient Song Mountain range in his home province of Henan. These works are rich in colour with thick oil paint applied in wide sweeping strokes. The intensity of the colours, the thickness of the paint and vividness of the whole composition take his landscapes to another dimension altogether, teetering on the edge of abstraction.
To these Vermillion has included some of Yin’s most recent work, semi-abstract portraiture, including several of Yin’s tributes to his greatest inspiration: Vincent Van Gogh.