Our participation at the Shanghai West Bund Art Fairthis year will allow us to present seminal works by the American artist Mark Tobey (1890-1976) who was shown at the gallery for the first time in 1945 as well as the Cantonese artist Yang Jiechang (1956) who was shown at the gallery for the first time in 1989, celebrating this year its 40th anniversary with the French gallery.
Born in 1890 Centerville, Wisconsin, Mark Tobey studied at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and converted to the Baha’i faith in 1918, whose teachings emphasize the oneness of all religions, people and aspects of the world which had a profound effect on his work.
After moving to Seattle, he was initiated to calligraphy by his Chinese student Teng Kwei. The artist is now recognized as a vanguard figure whose work anticipated the formal innovations of the New York School with artists such as Jackson Pollock. Mark Tobey’s unique style uses most of the time tempera paintings with an all-over composition creating a unique style of abstract painting. After furthering his knowledge of calligraphy by going to Persia, Tobey traveled extensively through China and Japan in the 30’s which would prove the foundation of his mature work as he states “it was there that I got what I callthe calligraphic impulse to carry my work on into some new spiritual dimensions; I painted the frenetic rhythms of modern cities, the interweaving light and the streams of people entangled in a big world net. He deployed it beautifully in his special series of white writing. His artistic career is entirely tied to his spiritual journey and he is known as the artist who who reconciled East and West in his work. Mark Tobey will be represented through a group of essential 10 works ranging from 1954 to 1970.
Yang Jiechang, born in Foshan in 1956, emigrated to Europe in 1956 while he was coming for the large exhibition Les Magiciens de la Terre at the Pompidou Center.
After being a red guard in 1970, the artist decides to study intensely calligraphy and History of Art from the School of Fine Arts in Canton where he studies ink paintings after practicing calligraphy. He then decides to study Zen Buddhist painting as well as Taoism. The real is without form seems to be the leitmotiv which the artist has developed for more than 30 years, through both his abstract and his figurative painting phases, profoundly anchored in his life accumulated experiences, his sensations and his perpetually changing and mobile knowledge which has been accumulated over more than 40 years.
Our presentation will show a group of 10 works from Yang Jiechang, from the 100 layers of ink series to the meticulous painting style. The unique historical series of One-hundred layers of ink series from his trip to Mexico in the early 90’s will be exhibited after Robert Littman, seeing the 4 monumental panels at Les magiciens de la Terre in Paris Beaubourg, decided to invite Yang Jiechang at the Centro Cultural Contemporaneo of Mexico City that he directed. “Yang only needs a lot of ink and it will be a great experience to him”, he said.And so he ordered a large amount of Chinese Ink (Zhongua Mozi). When Jiechang visited the National Museum of Mexican history there, he discovered with surprise that all these spiritual artifacts of foreign civilization seemed familiar to him. He made a series of drawings all along the 45 days of the journey in Mexico and the vestiges of Maya culture became a kind of spiritual passage leading the artist home. A few works from this historical series will be exhibited for the first time in Shanghai.
Both artists, from West to East for Tobey or from East to West for Yang have had a spiritual path throughout their work.
West Bund Art Center
2555 Long Teng Avenue