Solo exhibition of Jin Yucheng at Bund One Museum
Novelist Jin Yucheng is showing Shanghai art lovers that he is also a skilled painter.
A solo exhibition of more than 200 paintings from 12 series Jin created in the past decade is showing at Bund One Art Museum through January 28, 2024.
The 9th Mao Dun Literature Prize winner has surprised viewers with his prowess as a painter.
Titled "Blossoms," the exhibition takes the same name as the novel that won Jin the Mao Dun prize. The veteran editor of a literary journal details local lives from the 1960s to the 1990s in the novel. With extensive use of the local Shanghai dialect, "Blossoms" won nearly all the top prizes in Chinese literature shortly after it came out in 2012.
The exhibition is the largest of Jin's original works, and includes his depiction of "Life in the countryside," "Old dreams in Jiangnan," and "Shanghai monologue," as well as 40 illustrations and manuscripts of the novel "Blossoms".
When asked about his early connection to art, Jin replied: "It all related to a broken copy of 'Tutorial Pen Drawings for the Architecture Department' in the 1970s."
At that time, Jin was one of the Chinese urban young sent to work in the countryside and mountain areas. He could not remember how many times he studied the book in the dormitory of a farm in the northeast of China.
After returning to Shanghai, Jin worked in a clock and watch factory as a locksmith and learned mechanical drawing for half a year, which formed the foundation for his later painting skills.
Visitors to the exhibition can also view one of his earliest drafts named "Chinese Parasol and Fig," which he painted in 1976.
However, Jin's real encounter with art began when he illustrated his novel.
"The connection between words and picture is pretty close. When I was writing 'Blossoms,' sometimes I had to write more words to introduce a house. But obviously a picture was quite direct and clear. Then I drew some illustrations to support my content.
"When my friends told me the illustrations were very impressive, it inspired my passion for art for the past 10 years."
"His works are like a surreal theater, where each image takes on a role, performing human comedy, farce, or absurdity," said Yin Jinan, a famous art historian.
Art critic Wang Min'an said: "Starting from personal memories and experiences, he blends the past and present in a unique way, neither purely fictional nor realistic".
Jin is often obsessed with details in his paintings, demanding from viewers a cautious review of the tableau. Sometimes a tiny, black cat or the outline of a woman can be found hidden on a balcony or a street. The ubiquitous metaphors and curiosity constitute the poetry and philosophy in his works.
These images are filled with layers and layers of narrative, interweaving historical memories or insights into reality.
Each part of the work is not a simple picture. Form and content are nested within each other, as complex as human nerves. Such complexity is contradictory to naivete, yet Jin combines both perfectly.
Jin said he was not academically trained in line, light, shadow, or color.
"Sometimes I have to come up with narrative elements, or add more complicated details to attract the eyes," he said. "So the viewers will no longer pay attention to whether the colors I apply are right or wrong. Actually I never feel tired when painting, because that's utterly what I am interested in. On the other hand, it is true that I haven't written for a long time."
Date: Through January 28, 10am-6pm
Venue: Bund One Art Museum
Address: 3/F, Zhongshan Rd E1
Tickets: Please buy tickets through the Wechat accout "东一美术馆"