Playful Stillness - Jiang Huan's "Temperature of Time" at Eli Klein Fine Art

Art Press Release from Australia. Published by Rebecca Gabrielle Cannon on Tuesday 14 September 2010.

Playful Stillness - Jiang Huan's Playful Stillness - Jiang Huan's Playful Stillness - Jiang Huan's Playful Stillness - Jiang Huan's Playful Stillness - Jiang Huan's Playful Stillness - Jiang Huan's Playful Stillness - Jiang Huan's Playful Stillness - Jiang Huan's

"Temperature of Time" is Jiang Huan's first solo show in New York, and it's a fantastic city debut at the Eli Klein Art gallery in Soho.

While his realism draws comparisons to artists such as Hans Holbein and Jan van Eyck, there is something endemically Eastern about his work, despite some very modern, Western, emotional and narrative complexities prevalent in the contemplative gazes of his young female subjects.

One of the many stunning achievements of Huan’s work is his ability to capture reality in both a literal and an interpretative sense. At first glance the paintings appear to be photographs of young women, but when you look closer, you realize that brushstrokes have brought these subjects to life. These oil paintings are seemingly of emotional scenes and landscapes common in Eastern culture, however Huan’s playfulness with light and facial expressions make the works something more than traditional portraiture or landscape.

You can’t help but tell your own story, but within tales of unrequited love and heartbreak (the works convey a feeling that the subjects are all thinking of a young man a 1,000 miles away), there is a daring, cunning spirit, a vibrancy within the girls’ far-off gazes. Huan’s restraint from telling you too much is what draws you in, making the paintings feel so incredibly intimate.

One particular highlight of the exhibition is “Old Superman,” a witty, yet mysterious glimpse into a bizarre moment where fantasy meets reality on multiple levels. Huan’s departure from his Asian muse – in fact a student from the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing – shows his versatility both in subject and cultural aesthetic.

Haun explains that the works are inspired by “things and people around me, the kindness I have ever experienced and perceived, and also my pursuit and longing for beautiful things since my childhood”. This pursuit of beauty shines through not only the eyes of his subjects, but also through the physical material of the skillfully layered oil paint. If Huan has not achieved his goal of attaining a life filled with beauty, at least he has shown that the journey involved can be just as mesmerizing as the result.

Temperature of Time is on view from September 1st to October 15 2010 at Eli Klein Fine Art.

Images courtesy of Eli Klein Fine Art, New York – Beijing

Temperature of Time on Artabase

Eli Klein Fine Art on Artabase