Inspirational artists

November 6, 2019, 6:32 pm

Duan Jianyu

I discovered the Chinese artist Duan Jianyu during an exhibition at the Rockbund museum in Shanghai in 2013. The colors she uses are very intense and fantasy items appear within the landscape, floating between dream and reality. In her oil paintings, she explores the tensions between urban and rural parts of the rapidly industrializing China. 

She painted, for instance, the following canvas in front of the museum FRAC of Nantes.

She incorporated within the landscape of a fertile land some muses. Muses that can only be fully appreciated through the eyes of willing artists. She graduated from Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 1995. She currently works and lives in Guangzhou.

Elise Barat

Elise Barat is a French plastic artist, living in the east part of France. Her favorite theme is the painting of water landscapes. She succeeds in catching and painting the very essence of water. Each movement, undulation or reflection comes to life through her paintbrush.

And sometimes, the reflection of a half-dreamed half real landscape appears at the surface. Reality is distorted, landmarks are blurred and our gaze is attracted by the hypnotizing clarity.

You can discover a part of the work of Elise Barat on her website :

Qiu Shengxian

Qiu Shengxian is a famous Chinese painter. I had the opportunity to see his work in Shanghai in 2017 in the art district M50. 

He is a fine example of mixing the classical Chinese art with contemporary fashion art expressionism. He integrates "Fuwa" characters (child of good fortune) or "Mother and Son" in his paintings. The table below incorporates both characters. 

His work is precise. Each body is composed of a multitude of small characters, as if each parcel of the human body drew its energy from all the beings around it. This concept is close to feng shui. 

The thematics of wine and cigarettes are often present in his works of art. They could be associated to a symbol of elegance or vice, but are in any case, a step towards Western culture. 


Ren Hang

Ren Hang was a Chinese photographer and poet from Jilin Province. His camera provided to him an infinite space of liberty and sensuality. The subjects photographed are often naked. Bodies are intertwined in a very harmonious overall picture. 

Intense color splashes give life to the photography. His work was his way to exist and witness a new chinese youth. It is possible to read in his works the pleasure of the young people to be together, their confidence in each other but also their discomfort. 

Discomfort highly felt by Ren Hang himself. He sadly killed himself in 2017. 

Yang Liu

Yang Liu is a Chinese artist who traveled a lot in Europe and more specifically in Germany. During her trips, she focused on the differences she noticed between Germans and Chineses behaviors.

She tries to summarize the concept in a very minimalist way to transcribe this information with the fewest drawings. The result is full of insight and funny.

For example, in China, at work, the boss is held with very high regard and even nearly adulated. He is put on a pedestal. In Germany, or basically in Europe, the manager is of course respected, but stay a human being at the same level as the other workers.

Another example is the way she conceptualizes the way to deal with a problem. The Occidental way will consist in persevering and passing directly through it. This is effective but destructive. At the opposite, Asian people will work around the problem. They indeed want to preserve the integrity of each element. The way they eat translates very well this approach of thinking: as a matter of fact, in Europe, we use forks and knifes to cut our meal and bring it to our mouth. In China, they use chopsticks to take it to them without destroying it.

Yuan Shun

We met Yuan Shun at Mingqi Art, an important Art Space in development at the South-West of Shanghai.

Born in 1961 in Shanghai, Yuan Shun was trained at the art college of the People’s Liberation Army. He was first known for his paintings; however, it is for his virtual and futurist installations that he enjoyed success.

He creates surreal landscapes, most of the time desert, but sometimes which looks like a former military base. Lost in the past or in the future, we land on an unknown planet. The ground is arid, sheer cliffs and volcanoes are intimidating and the smoke that emerges does not welcome the spectator, who feels very tiny face to this powerful nature. The nature seems to have eradicated human life and regained its rights.

Thus, surprise is total when we discover that this amazing landscape was not wider than 2 meters ! Yuan Shun invented the concept of Chinese Bonsai idea. With sand, cements and a lot of imagination, he succeeds to send us in another dimension.

He does not hesitate sometimes to destroy himself his creations. Putting human and nature in one eternal face to face battle.

But, his inspiration does not come only from Science fiction, through these mountains profile, he reminds the ancestral ink paintings of hilly landscapes realized by Masters during Song to Ming Dynasty.

Based on ancestral philosophies, some other works are also inspired from Taoism spirit. In one infinite circle, he integrates various elements from tradition and future. In the example below, it is possible to notice the Chinese stones and its spiritual symbolism, theater Chinese masks, one geographer, the complexity of one atom or the macrocosm of the solar system. Yuan Shun creates a bridge between the future and the past, but also a link with Taoism, reminding that all those elements are one. Everything is basically one despite the appearance of differences.

Yuan Shun is still traveling between Germany and China. He is now based at Mingqi Art, Shanghai Suburbs. He is preparing a solo exhibition for September in Beijing.