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By Leng Lin


After its loud narrative declaration, contemporary Chinese art has embarked on another adventure. Pattern, will, and the conquering and preserving of the restlessness, have all been formalized in the recent reflection of art. The desire to infuse social content into art has been, in an unnoticeable way, replaced by the re-perception and understanding of the passion in the expression as well as the form of art. The art of Liang Yuanwei has become a remarkable representative in this hidden transformation.


Liang Yuanwei was introduced to me by the artist Liu Ye four years ago. In her studio, I was enthralled by the subtlety of her paintings. These paintings were simple, but the intricate relations between each detailed part on the canvas made up a subtle and sophisticated world. The flower patterns on the canvas, which resemble those on the fabric, were dealt with emotion in a consecutive way. This expression needs time to fulfill and it is, in itself, a seamless process. The delicate balance between the draining and restoring of the emotions make her paintings very sensible, and at the same time, a perception into life and the world. Liang Yuanwei’s painting requires consistent contemplation, just like the patterns in her painting require consistent repetition. The consistent contemplation over time creates a variation which echoes that of the patterns in different shades of colors. Difference is generated in sameness and keeps growing. This is a contradiction, and Liang Yuanwei considers it one between form and spirit, one that “renders a power and exalts the work beyond a mere visual result”.


With the inner contradiction and the power generated from inside, Liang Yuanwei begins with her painting a straightforward exploration in the formalization of art. I would like to describe it as a demonstration of cultural confidence. In the 1990s, when China’s contemporary art acquired the self-awareness in its cultural identity, “strategy” became an essential part of the motives and purposes of art. It is hard to imagine that the delicate perception of, and discussions about art itself could be given specific attention at that time. After entering the new millennium and the emergence of China’s contemporary art market, the awareness of art, autonomous, independent from such strategies, has been gradually awakened. The “contemporariness” has thus been released from the single dimension of time, and transformed into an aggregation of energies forging ahead to different directions. Tradition, fashion, and personality have been combined together in different ways. In Liang Yuanwei’s paintings, one can find the peacefulness of the traditional paintings from the Song Dynasty and the splendor of extremely fine fabric, as well as the confidence in her elegant expression. She magnifies “beauty” in her paintings, which makes it more powerful; she consciously “entices” the viewers with the intricacy of the flowers and imbues beauty into this process; she never tries to escape from ideology, but rather, through the exquisite, pure and gleamy patterns on her canvas she reveals the backside of ideology, and reminds us of what we should actually be concerned about.


While becoming aware of the development of art, we find that Liang Yuanwei’s paintings are more like echoes to the history. She brings back to our life a beauty which is elegant, warm and modest.


“Golden Notes”, Liang Yuanwei’s solo exhibition at Beijing Commune is the fruit of her recent research in painting. With their fresh colors, remarkable contrast of the sizes and the links/difference between the images, these paintings are the renewal of an eternal value. It is a value realized through the form that consciously created by the artist.