"Memory of the Past - with red star", 2007, series no. 19. oil on canvas: 153 x 170,5 cm; signed and dated (l.r).; signed, titled and no.19 on reverse
Painting in the style of Realism, Zhu Yi Yong’s new series renders his subjects in monochrome, and this duality of technique and palette creates an entendre effect of a combination of both nostalgia, in the vein of black and white photographs or film, and the artistic representation of contemporary reality.
The motif of the children’s game Cat’s Cradle is whimsically composed at the forefront of all the canvases in Memories to great effect, not least for its recollection of China’s most famous symbol in its history of Revolution, the red star. Pitched starkly into relief by its monochromatic backdrop, the gaps in the vibrant scarlet string, as it is plied apart by bewitchingly posed fingers, are in fact a day-glo portal from which the subject looming in the backdrop peers defiantly out of. Zhu Yi Yong thus artistically detonates this multi-faceted symbol with connotations of a tremulous political past whilst it simultaneously suggests notions of anti-materialism and a vision of renewal in the current climate of change and progress, as it is seen by China’s ever growing population.
Part of the generation that grew up amidst the Red Army and its renowned "Red Five Stars", these symbols are inextricably linked to Zhu Yi Yong’s memories of his childhood and maturation into adulthood, hence the name of the series. Widely recognized as the driving force behind Mao’s propagation of his passion and ideology, the "Red Five Stars" are a central image of China’s collective past, and as the artist shows, its present and future. In Zhu Yi Yong’s series, the subjects in what are ostensibly portraits portray a cross-section of China’s current demography, showcasing people who represent China as we know it today, in all walks of life, from schoolyard children to the Red Guard, ranging as far between as to capture the faces of China’s cosmopolitan beauties and the proletarian agrarian worker and labourer.
Zhu Yi Yong questions what this symbol now means to his contemporaries. There are subtle nuances in the greys of this artist’s use of monochrome, so as to artistically explore the metaphorical "grey-areas" that he discovers in his subjects. In addition to this, each piece differs from the next in stance, and also perspective, as Zhu Yi Yong selectively portrays his subject with unique facial expressions and comportment typical to the personality he is introducing to his audience. As a series, there is a dramatic and inclusive discussion of the myriad ways that this symbol now translates into the present, and indeed implying what this indicates for the future.
Zhu Yi Yong studied at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in 1977, in the first class of students to be admitted after the Cultural Revolution, where he now has the position of associate professor.
1982 Graduated from the Oil Painting Department of Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts
1982 – Present : Professor at Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts
Member of Chinese Artists’ Association.
2006 Memories Series, Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong
2006 Memories Series, Art Beijing 2006,
National Agriculture Exhibition Hall, Beijing
2004 Visual Poetry of Light and Reflection Ⅱ, Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong
1999 Visual Poetry of Light and Reflection, Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong
1995 Zhu Yi Yong, Galerie du Monde, Hong Kong
1992 Zhu Yi Yong Paintings, Xin Mei Gallery, Taizhong, Taiwan
2007 RE-collection, Schoeni Art Gallery’s 15th Anniversary Exhibition, Hong Kong
2006 MiArt 2006 -11th International Modern and Contemporary Art, Schoeni
Art Gallery, Milan, Italy
2005 The Power of Body, Blue Dream Land Art Gallery, Chengdu
2004 Through the Artists’ Eyes – A Tribute to Manfred Schoeni, Schoeni Art Gallery,
Oil Painting Exhibition, Blue Dream Land Art Gallery, Chengdu
2003 1st Anniversary Celebration, Schoeni Art Gallery, Beijing
Images of Women , Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong
2002 Inaugural Exhibition—Contemporary Paintings by 33 Artists, Schoeni Art Gallery,
10th Anniversary Exhibition, Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong
Images of Women, Lotus Arts de Vivre in partnership with Schoeni Art Gallery,
2001 Art Singapore 2001, Contemporary Asian Art Fair, Schoeni Art Gallery, Singapore
Images of Women , Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong
2000 Images of Women , Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong
1999 Images of Women , Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong
1998 East Meets West Art Exhibition, Berlin, Germany
1997 5th Anniversary Exhibition – Selected Paintings by 23 Contemporary Artists,
Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong.
Images of Women , Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong.
1994 45th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China-Sichuan Art Exhibition,
Sichuan Museum of Art, Chengdu, Received outstanding award
1991 Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, Kawaguchi Museum of Contemporary Art,
1989 Chinese Outstanding Works Oil Painting Exhibition, Japan
1987 Chinese Oil Painting Exhibition, Chinese National Museum of Art, Beijing
Sichuan Oil Painting Exhibition, Sichuan Museum of Art, Chengdu
Received outstanding award
Chinese Contemporary Oil Painting Exhibition, GHK Company, New York
1985 Chinese Sports Art Works Exhibition, Beijing
1984 Sixth Chinese National Art Exhibition, Chinese National Museum of Art,
Beijing Received bronze medal
1982 Spring Saloon Exhibition, Paris, France
1981 Sichuan Fine Arts Institute selected for exhibition, Chinese National Museum of Art, Beijing
1980 Second Chinese National Youths Art Exhibition, Chinese National Museum of Art, Beijing
Received bronze medal
The Sichuan Youths Art Exhibition, Sichuan Museum of Art, Chengdu.