Maleonn (Ma Liang)

Ma Liang, also known as Maleonn (1972 Shanghai), is a talented Shanghai photographer who has gained a kind of cult following because of his fable like photographs. He studied painting at the School of Fine Arts of Shanghai University , graduating in 1995.  A graduate of the Fine Arts College Ma Liang studied graphic design, and it shows in his works, which blend new style with a look and feel of old photographic images, when colors were unrefined.  His images, in color and black and white, are often created with props, actors and a strange mix of hues, colors and theatrical sets.  He lives and works in Shanghai.
His work can be scary, beautiful, and full of spirit. More importantly, It represents a crucial moment in China's ever growing contemporary art scene.
Maleonn's story is one that is enshrined by infirmity. His father was Shanghai's leading opera director at the time of his family's banishment to a re-education camp during China's Cultural Revolution. This single event not only resulted in a hard-scrabble childhood for Maleonn, who was conceived in the camp, but it also helped shape his sociopolitical views as an adult. 
From this early life of hardship and constrained opportunity, Maleonn has emerged as a major cultural figure in 21st Century Shanghai.
His first race was the commercial short film. In 2004, its TV commercials made ​​him a well known figure, and even a kind of cultural icon in the creative community in Shanghai and to some extent to the general population who appealed their ads. It was the same year, 2004, which was awarded as one of the Best Video Commercial directors in China , he decided to try his luck as photography.
The father of Maleonn was director of the Shanghai Opera and his mother a famous movie actress, so the artistic vein runs in the family. However, childhood Maleonn was turbulent, because after being born in a field reeducation communist who had been consigned to their parents during the Cultural Revolution , he was sent to Shanghai to be raised by distant relatives, until his parents were released.

Maleonn became a filmmaker, and surprisingly recently dabbled in photography in 2005 . The film, painting (which he studied for 11 years) and photography seem to merge in your images. Their pictures always built to the smallest detail is as arenas and try to tell a story in a single frame . His influence as a filmmaker is also seen in the series "Circus" because when you browse images quickly gives the impression of watching an animated film.
With interesting projects under his belt Maleonn has the ability to create imaginary worlds where beauty becomes a caricature of its features . His artistic influences are all these beautiful China; women originating, fantasy, lots of color, clothing, etc.. Which gives us images tinged grotesque but beautiful, surreal touches handling and good humor.
The photos reflect a careful staging. " My work is my own inner world , "says Maleonn. " The scenes that show of my fantasies have emerged, sometimes drawing before shooting. Every detail is clear in my mind, what I do is turn my inner world actually , "says the author. His works and photographic compositions are so magnificent, haunting, dreamlike, in a word so surreal that have been exposed in major galleries around the world and considered one of the best exponents current digital surrealism.

RongRong & Inri

After studying painting and then photography in Fujian province, RongRong (b. 1968) joined the East Village art community in Peking, home of the entire avant-garde of the period in a totally marginal social context. There he photographed the daily life of his friends, known for performances that pushed their naked bodies to the limits of endurance. After East Village was shut down by the authorities, RongRong created the series Ruins, on the demolition of Peking's urban landscape.
Born in 1973, the photographer inri brings a near-ferocious intensity to works on the far fringes of the conventional. In 1999 Rong Rong met Inri, a Japanese artist, at his solo exhibition in Tokyo. Although they did not understand each other’s languages at that time, they communicated with each other using art as their common language. Built on the foundation of their individual styles, their collaborative works surpass the limits of their individual vision.

Since 2000 they have been living and working together in Peking. Rong Rong and Inri's works reflect the intimate world that they have created together, while pushing the boundaries of traditional black-and-white darkroom techniques. Their critically acclaimed photographs focus on the beauty of the human being in nature and the urban environment. Both are fascinated by the changing world around them, seeking harmony between their bodies and nature as they photograph themselves naked in extreme conditions: snow, ice and the burning heat of the desert. Their series include In the Great Wall, In Bad Goysern and In Helsinki and in tandem they have published Transfiguration (2003) and Liu Li Tun (2005). Liu Li Tun could be described as their first work, as it contains photos dating notably from their first years together. Some of these photos were shown in Peking and New York in 2006.
In 2006, the couple founded the first non-profit photography art center in China, the Three Shadows Photography Art Center in Beijing's Caochangdi art district. With exhibition galleries, a contemporary art library, dark rooms, and an international artist in residence program, Three Shadows aims to be the most professional and comprehensive platform for the promotion of photography and video art in the country.
In 2006, the couple founded the first non-profit photography art center in China, the Three Shadows Photography Art Center in Beijing's Caochangdi art district. With exhibition galleries, a contemporary art library, dark rooms, and an international artist in residence program, Three Shadows aims to be the most professional and comprehensive platform for the promotion of photography and video art in the country.
In 2007 They started the annual Three Shadows Photography Award to discover and encourage China’s most promising photographers. RongRong and Inri’s recent work brings attention to the beauty and value of new beginnings in their shared life and surroundings, especially amidst a rapidly changing world

Xia Xiaowan

 Xia Xiaowan was born in Beijing in 1959. He graduated from the Third Studio of Oil Painting Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1982. In 1983 and 1984 Xia Xiaowan worked as an art Editor in China Machinery Publishing. He currently lives in Beijing and works as a professor of Stagecraft Department of the Central Academy of Drama.
His paints on multiple sheets of glass to create ethereal three-dimensional paintings. Xia Xiaowan surpasses the boundaries of painting and establishes a new way of "looking" at paintings.
He draws his inspiration and method from X-ray photographs, giving two-dimensional painting a three-dimensional effect. He combines material, technology and painting, thus maintaining the hand-made qualities of painting while adding elements of installation and sculptural art and displaying the cold, absurd and strange qualities of realism.

Xia Xiaowan has been preoccupied for years with the problem of representing three dimensions on a flat surface. For him, the Western solution—with lines of perspective converging on a vanishing point—is powerful but inadequate. After much experimenting, he decided to approach the question from the opposite direction and build flat images into a three-dimensional one. He divides a picture into layers, draws each section in coloured pencil on a sheet of tinted glass, then stacks the sheets one in front of the other. The translucent composite conveys the depth and solidity of a living figure. Man and Woman (2007) not only extends across multiple dimensions, it contains them. What at first seems a single monstrous figure turns out to be two: a pregnant woman and a man, both deformed yet recognizably human. Bent and sorrowful, they might almost be Adam and Eve cast out of Eden. As the viewer moves around the painting-sculpture, it seems to move too, adding to the lifelike effect. “When we view a living person,” the artist says, “their position at the end cannot be exactly the same as at the start.”

“My experimental series of glass paintings is an attempt to deconstruct realistic painting and then reconstruct it from its key principles.” – 
  Xia Xiaowan

Cao Hui

Born Kunming, 1968

Cao Hui is best known for his oversized and shockingly realistic sculptures of half-flayed animals.  His primary aim, he says, is to “trigger the viewer’s emotions: surprise, sorrow, anger, sadness or laughter”, and in the series of which Urinals (2001) is part, he goes for laughs.  The fibreglass sculptures are intended simply “to make fun of everyday objects,” he says.  But he is well aware that many viewers will associate his urinals (the bodies, he says, are male) with Marcel Duchamp’s iconic Fountain—itself a grand artistic joke.

People differentiate between artist and non-artist based on degree of mastery in imitating nature, and further differentiate Realism from Hyperrealism based on skill in rendering details. Different motivations on the part of the artist can also be used to make distinctions such as Realism, Symbolism or perhaps other “isms.”
Artworks made in the name of Photorealism, Realism, and even Hyperrealism are all likewise fabricated from piles of mud or with daubs of color on the surface of canvas. Increasingly uneasy and dissatisfied with merely describing surface appearances, artists now attempt to plumb the inner reaches of things; an agenda that apparently moves into science or other fields. It seems artists are no longer happy just being artists, but are driven by their inborn love of performance to try out new roles, such as philosopher, scientist, doctor or perhaps even engineer. I think artists really want to play god more than anything else, and will stop at nothing to construct a truth that validates the self. They first delude themselves, then maybe move on to people around them. I really wonder to what extent these self deceptions and constructed truths can strike a nerve in the knowing onlooker.

Nonetheless, self deception is of primary importance as it permits a belief in understanding the surface as well as the interior. In this way the relationship between the interior and exterior of everything seems to possess a perfect logic, and can be interpreted with established knowledge. In order to deceive others, we explain with theory after theory, but it all ends in laughter and sometimes we even amuse ourselves before god laughs.

Cao Hui expands on the complicated relationships between reality and its reflections, using images that are at once realistic and metaphorical.” - critic Feng Boyi

Liu Bao Jun

Liu Bao Jun / Leo Bao Jun was born in 1963 in Dandong, Liaoning Province. Liu Bao Jun has become a rising star in mainland China’s contemporary art scene, as well as gaining considerable recognition abroad through his exhibitions in both the US and Taiwan. Since 2004 he lives in Shanghai. He started writing when he was 7 years old, so it can be said that his experience in the arts has 38 years.
Liu Bao Jun’s work typically features portraits of Chinese women. . But if you are imagining petite women striking delicate, ladylike poses then you would be very mistaken.  They are not beautiful in terms of the standard flavors, but they are dressed elegantly and in harmony with stylish design around them. Their style of life, they represent the unreality of a bygone era.  In some images the women wear traditional costume, in others they wear western dress, while in others they appear nude.  At the same time, we see a tinge of irony in the picture of refined persons.  
 In a society where smoking has been traditionally a non-female activity, many of the women in Liu Bao Jun’s works seem to be very much enjoying a quiet smoke (a taboo for women in China). Liu Bao Jun gently challenges our perceptions of Chinese women and addresses traditional verses modern ideals.  The main character is often depicted with a pipe. 
Leo Bao Jun - artist skill, being an expert, snatches details of the composition and use tonchaschih strokes bringing them to almost photo-realism. At the same time, his play with color, texture, light and shadow gives the work a poetic sound. The artist chooses the objects come from traditional Chinese culture, but also adds a western technology. With a deep understanding of Chinese culture, it integrates it into modern art. And thus Leo Bao Jun creates aesthetic images that you will remember forever.

Ai Xuan

Ai Xuan is a painter of the Beijing Art Academy and a member of the Chinese Artists' Association. 
Born (1947) in Zhejiang, another name id Ai Guigui, graduated from the Central Fine Arts Institute Attached Middle School in 1967, presently is Beijing Art Academy's specialty painter. From 1967 to 1973, he worked as a labor in Xiheying of Heibei Province. In 1973 he was assigned to be a creator in the culture department of Chengdu Military region. Since 1980, Ai Xuan work has attended the national art exhibition many times, won an award at the 1981 2nd session of national youth art exhibition. He participated in the 2nd session of Asian fine arts in Japan, the 18th session of international fine arts in Paris in 1986, and received honors from both. He went to US in 1987 to hold a solo exhibition and to study and he stayed there for one year. During his stay in the States, he held solo exhibitions; His paintings were sold in the auction sales for restoring the Great Wall and Venice, sponsored by the Sothebys. His works deeply attains the high praise; commentaries appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Christianity word newspaper and the Art News magazine. Art News called described him as "a rising star", "United Press International" also made the correlation report. He also met famous American artist Mr. Andrew Wise. 
In 1998, he returned to Beijing, his works besides collected by the Chinese art museum, also collected by private collectors and museums in US, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Germany, Canada and Japan.

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Zeng Fanzhi

Zeng Fanzhi is one of China’s most dynamic and expressive painters. Unlike many of the other well-known Chinese painters, Zeng’s subjects are not political but psychological. His series of paintings, about hospitals, meat and masked figures, as well as his latest series of portraits set along the coast, are powerful, expressive pieces that hint at the psychological state of man -- or woman -- in the modern world, and perhaps the inner psyche of the artist. His works have been called apocalyptic or dark portraits of reality. They are images of sickness, cruelty, pain and longing. In his well-known “Mask” series, Zeng’s figures wear a white mask; they are mostly well-dressed urbanites, but they have large, strange hands, weird expressions, blank stares or puzzling eyes. His works often have sharp brush strokes, or even slashing strokes that reveal tensions in what might be seen in a splintered universe. 

Zeng Fanzhi’s notorious mask series conducted in the mid 90’s marks a turn in his aesthetics. All the figures in the series wear white masks fused closely with the facial features. The masks nevertheless possess a peculiar, haunting power. His figures look anxious or fearful, as if they are victims of their own roles. Through the mask motif, Zeng Fanzhi expresses suspended reality.

Zeng Fanzhi’s late paintings signify a shift in his focus from a formal concern with the representation of existential unsettlement to an interest in how we imagine ourselves interacting with nature. In his recent landscape paintings, there is a notion of permanent escape – an attempt to inhabit the uninhabitable. These images are expressively abstract. Rendered in cool shades of pink, black and blue, they represent the tension of failed community and human loneliness. Within these large-scale images there is a notion of fragility and vulnerability; like an attempt to create a terrain of uncertainty that inhabits both characters and landscape depicted. The grand scale of the paintings lends them a certain suggestive and sublime appearance. Over the years Zeng Fanzhi’s paintings have always been rich in colour and composition, compelling and linked strongly with history, politics, emotions, psychology, fantasy and memories.

ZF says: “I grew up in the environment of the Cultural Revolution and all these ideologies take a lot of space in my mind, but when I paint I just want to portray my inner feeling and the people around me. I’ve never been interested in my art becoming symbols of political ideas.”

Zeng Fanzhi was born in Wuhan, China in 1964. He studied oil painting at the Wuhan Art Academy. He lives and works in Beijing. He has had solo exhibitions at Singapore Art Museum (2007), Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint-Etienne de Metropole, Saint-Etienne (2007), Fundacion Godia, Barcelona, (2009), National Gallery for Foreign Art, Sofia (2010) and Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai (2010). He has also participated in numerous international group exhibitions including the first Guangzhou Triennale in 2002 and the 53rd Biennale di Venezia in 2009. Currently his paintings can be seen in “I mondo vi appartiene” at François Pinault Foundation, Palazzo Grassi, Venice through December 2011.

Zeng Fanzhi is one of the icons of the Chinese contemporary art scene of the past 25 years. Today he lives and works in Beijing.  Zeng Fanzhi has exhibited widely at acclaimed institutions such as the Shanghai Art Museum, National Art Museum (Beijing), Kunst Museum Bonn, Kunstmuseum Bern, Santa Monica Art Centre, (Barcelona), National Art Museum, Singapore and Art Centre (Hong Kong).

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Zhu Wei

One of the most important contemporary practitioners of the classical Chinese medium of ink and wash, Zhu Wei ensnares both the old and the new in his imagery. Armed with a humorous sensibility shaped by a significant stint in the People’s Liberation Army, a thorough passion for Chinese rock’n’roll, and an exceptional facility at invoking antiquity, Zhu paints his own unique picture of present-day China. Reserved, reverent members of modern society who do not speak are juxtaposed against charged, coded landscapes of old that do. A quiet political commentary is ciphered into his compositions and configurations, a function of a childhood spent in a revolutionary past and an adulthood witnessing a drastically changing present. The artist has held solo exhibitions in China, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Belgium, Hong Kong, and the United States. His work has been included in group shows across China—at spaces such as the Today Art Museum in Beijing, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai, and the Guangdong Museum of Art in Guangzhou—and abroad, at the National Art Gallery in Athens, Greece, and the Museum Belvue in Brussels, Belgium. 
Zhu Wei arts critic and essayist, was born in 1966 in Beijing, and received education in the People's Liberation Army Academy of Art, Beijing Film Academy, and China Institute of Art. He started writing as an educated youth in Heilongjiang in the 1970s and on his return to Beijing in 1978 got his first break working as journalist and editor for China Youth. He became Deputy Chief Editor of People’s Literature in 1983, and, as editor in charge of the Arts section, promoted and encouraged new writers such as Liu Suola, Ah Cheng, Mo Yan, Yu Hua and Su Tong. It was at Zhu Wei’s house that Yu Hua first met Su Tong, who later commented on the meeting, ‘It felt as though here, at last, were my friends.’ 

Zhu Wei continued to champion new writers in his Readers Magazine column ‘New Writers at a Glance’. His appointment in 1995 as Chief Editor of Sanlian Life, has allowed him to consolidate this role as cultural commentator. 
His recent book ‘On Quality’ is a collection articles and essays from the Sanlian column of the same name; a personal commentary on contemporary culture of the last few decades. Running through these observations is a belief that the quality of our cultural and inner life is fundamental to our wellbeing.
Zhu Wei made his first appearance in international exhibition in 1993, and has put on more than 20 Solo Exhibitions worldwide ever since. More than eight different editions of special anthologies of his works and reviews have been published. His ink and wash works have been collected by more than 20 domestic and foreign museums.

He devotes himself to contemporize Chinese ink and color on paper, and make it become an important integral of world contemporary art.

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Liu Ye

Born in Beijing in 1964, Liu Ye studied industrial design and mural painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts before moving to Germany to pursue an MFA at the Fine Arts University in Berlin. His work has been exhibited extensively in China and Germany, and is well represented in the Uli Sigg Collection of contemporary Chinese art in Switzerland. Best-known for his colorful cartoon like characters in playful, naughty adolescent scenes, the artist has conspicuously chosen to steer away from politics and focus his artwork on human emotions.
Liu Ye is best-known for his colorful cartoon like characters in playful, naughty adolescent scenes. Influenced by Mondrian and abstract art, Liu Ye uses the color schemes and patterns of a Mondrian -- and even images from Mondrian's works -- and sets them in China, with young girls, bearing a breast, smoking, acting childlike or closing their eyes to enter a dream like state. Unlike many contemporary artists he has steered away from politics and chosen to focus on human emotions -- and childlike images. Liu Ye studied at Mural Painting Dept. at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1989, then he went to Berlin to sdudied at Hochschule der Bildence Kunst. He lives and works in Beijing now.

In Liu Ye's art, humor and sadness blend into a whole. The stillness of his ironic images provide us with a deep sense of detachment and timeless freedom. Part of the post 89' avant garde movement, his art is disinterested in the external flux taking place in modern China. Instead, Liu captures the inner solitude and vulnerability of the artist in face of the enormous changes taking place on a global scale and in Chinese society.

Liu Ye has a highly individualistic attitude towards art, the world he creates is a personal and intimate space of concepts and thought, he reflects a personal realm which is saturated in the general mood he lives in. Liu Ye's art displays enchanting and cute figures of naïve people, sometimes as famous as the pope, Fellini and Buster Keaton, in paradoxical contexts or still colorful backgrounds, the initial happiness we encounter is on the verge of slipping into melancholy while the subtle humor in the images propels one to think and investigate the unique world on the canvas.

Today, one of China's best selling contemporary artists, Liu Ye is a striking example of a Chinese artist exploring his own internal world through external and anonymous figures and western icons. Most of his work is done in bright, vivid and warm colors while the more melancholic ones are toned down to dark and cold blues.

Guo Wei

Guo Wei is one of the community of artists from Chengdu, Sichuan province. The art of these artists is lyrical and subtle. They are almost all investigating the individual, the personality, the development of the self in the new liberalising China.

Born in Sichuan Province in 1960, Guo Wei has exhibited internationally since 1988. His compositions are realistic, resembling photographs, yet upon closer inspection they reveal disturbing distortions and indistinct facial expressions that may surprise the viewer. While his earlier work primarily depicted children, Guo Wei's recent paintings record the awkward egotism of adolescence. But the essence of his painting, no matter how distanced it may seem, turns on the treatment of private emotion. His latest works are executed in monochromatic tones that intimately depict the subject of his daughter and friends.   

Guo Wei concentrates on scenes from everyday life in his paintings, focussing on the individual rather than on grander social issues. The isolation of the individual as subject is a predominant element in the Chinese avant garde. Since the communist system heavily favours the collectivity and, formerly, the only “individuals” of interest were those ideal peasants and workers of the communist propaganda machine, this focus on the individual is an expression of contemporary artistic liberty as well as being a novelty yet to be fully explored. Guo Wei says one of the things he explores is the restless nature of teenage children. He is searching for the expression of an emotion as well as an image.

Zhang Huan

Zhang Huan (b. 1965, China) is one of the most vital, influential and provocative contemporary artists working today. The layers of ideas the artist explored in his early performance art, conceived of as existential explorations and social commentaries, have carried through to the more traditional studio practice he embraced upon moving to Shanghai in 2005, after living and working for eight years in New York City.
Zhang Huan's works are both highly personal and politicised, dealing with complex issues of identity, spiritualism, vulnerability, and transgression. His practice focuses on no one particular media but rather incorporates a wide variety of tactics – from performance to photography, installation, sculpture, and painting -- utilising each method for its physical and symbolic associations. This unique approach to making reinforces the interconnectivity of the concepts and recurrent motifs running throughout of Zhang's work, and mirrors an underlying sentiment of shared human experience and bond. 
Zang Huan is one of China's best-known performance and conceptual artists. He is also known for his shocking and absurd photographs and images. He studied painting and taught art history in Henan but switched to performance art, seeing it as a way to interact with the world. His body became both his medium and his language. In the 1990s, Zhang attracted notoriety and the government's censorship for his unsettling works, which involved subjecting his naked body to pain or torturous circumstances. In "12 Square Meters" (1994), Zhang smeared fish oil and honey over himself and sat in his dirty, neighborhood public outhouse for an hour, letting flies swarm and eat off of him. Critics interpreted it as a spotlight on the living conditions in Beijing's East Village, an artists community, and elsewhere in China, and as a testament to the mind's ability to rise above horrible situations. After Zhang moved to New York in 1998, he walked down the street with slabs of raw meat tied to his body creating the image of a giant walking piece of meat. His works of self-expression have also earned much acclaim. "Peace," a 2001 installation of a horizontally-hanging, gold-leaf-covered cast of Zhang's body that strikes a huge bronze bell, was sold for $408,000 at Sotheby's auction in 2006. In September 2007, the Asia Society in New York held a retrospective of his works. He now operates one of the world's largest art studios, employing over 100 workers creating an array of sculpture works and installations. He was recently signed by the highly regarded Pace Wildenstein Gallery in New York. He now lives and works in Shanghai and New York.

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