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 Jianyong Zeng  (1971 - )

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Lived/Active: China      Known for: pensive-faced child portrait painting, drawing

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.


1971, Born in Chenghai, Guangdong
Graduated from Chinese Painting Department, Huaqiao University
Graduated from Printmaking Department, Central Academy of Fine Arts
Currently a professional artist living and working in Beijing and Shenzhen

Solo Exhibitions:
2008.8 Growing, Eli Klein Fine Art Gallery, NY, USA
2008.6 The Header, Holy Oriental Art Gallery, Shanghai, China
2008.3 The Header, Heather James Art, Palm Desert, CA, USA
2008.2 The Header, Rohrer Art Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA, USA
2007.9 The Header, Works of Zeng Jianyong, Times Space, 798, Beijing, China
2007.5 Works of Zeng Jianyong, Jiushi Space, 798, Beijing, China

Selected Group Exhibitions:
2009.5 Hong Kong International Art Fair, Hong Kong
2009.4 Art Chicago, IL, USA
2009.3 Four Square -Today Art Museum, Beijing, China
2009.3 Bohemia Galleries, Beverly, England
2009.3 Scope Art Fair, NY, USA
2009.2 International Artexpo, NY, USA
2009.1 14 Chinese Contemporary Artists, Eli Klein Fine Art Gallery, NY, USA
2009.1 Los Angeles Art Show, USA
2008.12 MY OWN WAY – Recommended Young Artists Exhibition, Beijing SZ Art Cntr
2008.12 Art Basel Miami Beach, USA
2008.10 What else do you have now? Beijing Jiushi Space
2008.9 Art Beijing 2008, Beijing, China
2008.5 Hong Kong International Art Fair, Hong Kong, China
2008.4 China International Gallery Exposition 2008, Beijing, China
2008.4 Art Shanghai 2008, Shanghai, China
2008.3 Crouching Paper, Hidden Dragon, Beijing, F2 Gallery
2008.1 2007 Chinese Contemporary Art Document, Beijing, Gehua Museum
2007.11 Institute of Traditional Chinese Fine Art Painting, Art Inst. Museum of Beijing
2007.9 No Living room at that time, Beijing, Being 3 Gallery
2007.9 Outside Exhibition of “Art Beijing 2007”, Beijing, CO2 United Creative Space

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Biography from Acquisitions Of Fine Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

The Technique
In both the Header and Spare Time series, Zeng uses materials that are associated with traditional Chinese painting and watercolor-handmade paper, inks, and watercolors. However, the technique that he employs is uniquely his own. Using two sheets of handmade paper, Zeng adheres one sheet to a board, then takes the second sheet and paints the image on the surface. Once the image is dry, he flips it over and adheres it to the first sheet on the board. Thus, the image is sandwiched between the two sheets, which have the delicate translucence of rice paper, and the viewer sees the image through the paper. The result is that the paintings have a luminously faded look-a look of faraway urgency. While there is a mild obscuring of the image, its intensity still shimmers through, accented by a layer of black ink added to the top surface of the children's scarves, making them pop off the canvas.
The Works of Zeng Jianyong
The Header series, a group of recent paintings by Zeng Jianyong, refers to a term used in the People's Republic of China to denote the head of the class-the top pupil, a child who not only earns good grades, but respects his or her elders and gets along well with others. The "header," held up as an example of all-around excellence, is something that Chinese children eagerly aspire to be. At the same time, the existence of this lauded position highlights how much cultural pressure there is to excel in both scholastic and social environments-pressure that can at times become harmful and oppressive. In more extreme cases, this pressure has led to depression and even suicide.

Zeng's paintings depict a single child or group of children in ordinary dress against an empty, neutral background. An armband bearing three horizontal stripes and a prominent black scarf worn about the shoulders identifies the header. Intended as emblems or caricatures rather than realistic portraits, Zeng's children, while discernible from one another, all have a distinct trademark look-ruddy marks on their skin that could be blood stains, overly large heads, tiny noses and mouths, and startling silver-gray eyes that look like shattered marbles.

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