Under The Blue Sky
Whilst the anthropomorphic subjects of Jingyi Wang’s paintings haven’t changed, the context within which they are situated have. The world and the social climates that we populate have continued to alter since Wang’s last exhibition ‘Natural Social Distancing’ at Four You Gallery a year ago. The paintings featured in this exhibition took the form of traditional portraits or busts, eerie in their animation and sobering in their directness. The tone of these artworks was sombre; there was a heaviness that threatened. Yet Wang’s ‘Under the blue sky’ lifts the prickly moods of ‘Natural Social Distancing,’ and remains positively hopeful.
The colour blue recalls longing feelings of calmness and serenity, it floods the landscapes of Jingyi Wang’s latest paintings. Her wish is for peace and her nostalgic yearns are for her homeland. She makes playful reference to WeChat: a Chinese videocall service that she often uses to speak to her family. The artist embeds varying contemporary motifs that contrast with the more traditional renaissance portrait framework that she works within. Wang has painted ‘Playing in Ice’ in Response to Hals, revolutionising the infamous ‘Lute Player’ (1623) that hangs in the Louvre, Paris. This juxtaposition is furthered by the subtle references Wang makes to popular culture. As for many of us, Wang spent lockdown watching much TV, this consumption has seeped into her artwork in numerous ways: format, colour, humour. Breaking news, the Olympics, and numerous dramas and movies among those which most inspired.
Impressive is Jingyi Wang’s comfort with her medium. This exhibition highlights her skilful understanding of oil paint, in particular her depiction of fabric, emphasises this talent. The clothes were painted from life as her subjects were modelled by Wang’s friends. Whilst the forms are entirely surreal, and human facial characteristics have dissolved into the flesh of cacti, there persists an uncanny similarity in body language to that of humans as we know them.