Yue Gang Weng Critique by Timothy Warrington

Yue Gang Weng is an extremely talented figurative and abstract expressionist artist from Shanghai, China. Extensive experiments with a variety of mediums including oil, watercolour and Chinese ink have lead to the development of Weng’s undeniably unique painting technique defined as “New Creation in Chinese Painting”. Weng has the rare ability to combine historical and philosophical elements of Western and Eastern artistic philosophies by adopting techniques of oil painting but replacing the medium with watercolours and Chinese ink skilfully applied to rice paper, thereby distancing himself from more traditional painting techniques and creating something entirely innovative.
 
Weng developed an intense passion for painting at a very young age as he utilised art as a treasured gateway for him to express his most inner thoughts, emotions and experiences. In fact, he has a primordial connection to the surfaces on which he paints and the sincere emotion he pours into his work resonates through the resulting paintings which are deeply evocative as well as enriched with an academic foundation that conveys the artist’s profound intellect. Weng’s works are eloquently reflective of his life, and therefore his subject matters span from elegant landscapes, cityscapes and figurative works, which are conceived through the acute observation of live models, to more abstracted subjects encompassing his personal experiences, immortalising his most personal feelings and thoughts throughout his life allowing the viewer a privileged insight into the artist’s mind.
 
Yue Gang Weng’s “New Creation in Chinese Painting” was inspired by a creative drive to challenge established artistic norms by employing novel approaches to divergent materials and mediums. In creating his bespoke method of painting Weng eloquently discoveres the connections and nuances between European and Chinese cultures and allows them to serve as a visual embodiment and illustration of his multifaceted identity. The artist is concerned about the perceived archaic limitations of Chinese art which lead to Weng’s fervour to give new life to ancient materials, thus conceiving distinctive and evocative artworks that challenge the mind and create limitless possibilities for Eastern styles of art to feel contemporary in both their aesthetic and in their capacity to offer stimulating and complex context.
 
Weng’s refined abstract paintings are characterised by a striking colour palette and often utilise contrasting tones to draw the viewer into the mindset of the artist and depict the intense emotion behind the artwork. In works such as Chinese Opera Series No.2 the influence of Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock are clearly seen through the heavy use of gestural strong black strokes and the broad and urgent use of paint. The spontaneity captured in the interpretation of line is also reminiscent of the more traditional work of Qi Baishi and the delicate effect of the Chinese ink strongly and wonderfully references Weng’s Chinese heritage.
 
In contrast, Weng’s nudes are graceful and subtle in colour, forging a bond between sensuality and mystery with a clear inspiration from Pierre-Auguste Renoir that can be detected through their shared affinity with the shape of the female form as the figures and their surroundings, saturated with colour, softly combine to form a unique entity. Comparisons can also be seen in works such as Night Dream and Desire with the art of Gustav Klimt. In these pieces, the figures have a celestial aura beneath the soft poetic atmosphere catalysed by the surrounding detail, reflecting the impactful intricacies and delicacies found within Klimt’s artworks. Weng frequently utilises female models in diverse compositions experimenting with light and tone to reflect seasons and capture moments of the day, each of which contributing diverse perspectives and a sense of exquisite tenderness. This is exemplified in artworks including The Fairy of the Mountain which are strikingly powerful in their composition yet still possess a gentle respect towards the figure.
 
Following an attentive analysis of Weng’s portraiture, it is also possible to detect an influence from Diego Velázquez, through their appreciation of naturalism, nuanced eye for detail and practice of chiaroscuro. These are techniques which Weng expertly executes in his poetic compositions, evoking a wondrous sense of light which emanates from the bodies of his subjects. A philosophical connection can also be perceived between Weng and Egon Schiele as their persistence to develop new artistic processes and true creative motivation to constantly evolve in order to self-express is evident in the artistic practice of both artists. Further similarities can be seen in the expressive body language of the figures which allow the viewer an insight into, not only the artist, but also the subject of their works.
 
In relation to Weng’s landscape line of work, further parallels can be drawn with the ideas of J.M.W. Turner. Both artists flawlessly compose misty compositions with natural light and impeccable brushwork which evoke an inherently peaceful sense in the viewer. Weng’s landscapes are composed with the use of watercolour on paper, a technique in which he is highly skilled, the subtlety and nuance in his application of paint is a tremendous credit to his artistic capabilities.
 
Yue Gang Weng has received inspiration from a fascinating spectrum of art history while simultaneously inventing a form of contemporary art with a modern and unique direction. His viceral passion, profound talent and endless desire to explore various art forms and techniques all contribute to his highly original artistic style. The sophistication with which Weng incorporates differing artistic practices with his own personal perspective is without boundaries and is brought to life through the creation of emotive and resonant works of art.