Fan Jing | As You Like It: Beijing

23 September - 28 October 2023
The name of the exhibition is taken from Shakespeare's classic comedy "As You Like It", but the artist did not write a fairy tale with a perfect ending like the play. On the contrary, in the whole exhibition, she created countless stories that happened after the "happy ending" viewed through one "closed" space after another, each of them appropriating classic stories in traditional stage plays and classical paintings. Besides the story itself, we can't ignore the artist's solid painting foundation and tribute to classical painting. The relationship among the picture’s structure, the picture expression and the title of the work forms a stable combination, which makes the artist form his own "trinity" when facing a new kind of figurative painting.
The strong contrast between light and shade in the picture has not only become a way to interpret Fan Jing's recent works but also helped the works to deepen their symbolic meaning, creating a very tense dramatic atmosphere and a strong emotional tension. The picture structure is crossed by "marked diagonal lines" that seem to be dynamic, but which in fact lend the pictures a balance and a quivering stability. The highly participative and dramatic composition arrangement not only constitutes a closed and stable space but also enhances the evocative power of the characters. Subtle tone changes also highlight very subtle texture differences between objects; an "image" with a sense of volume appears in the rigorous framework in the center of the stage as a combination filled with antagonism, giving a dramatic interpretation of a busy life full of spiritualism. In “Happy Ending”, a fuzzy space and soft light fill the whole picture, and the boundary between light and shadow becomes blurred until both blend. The wrestling fairies in “The Battle of the Fairies” are in the center of the whole drama, and they are also the focus of the picture. The chiaroscuro method makes the audience as close as possible to the space where the event takes place, and the reduction of apparent horizon strengthens this sense of participation again, making people immerse themselves in the image. However, in “Young Hero”, the characters are suddenly focused by light rising from a dark background, suggesting that a fierce drama has just ended and this naturally forms a set of intertextualities with “The Battle of the Fairies”. In “Death of the Swan” and “The Battle of the Fairies”, a very real sense of strength emerges from the tight and elastic muscles of the characters, and this tension is not only reflected in their bodies but also in their emotions. In “Death of the Swan”, a harsh light is shined from the top down, and the diagonal line from top to bottom cuts through the initially calm picture, which reminds people of the secret visual experience brought by “The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa”. The plump and round body with the strong light source directly caters to most men's imagination and stereotype of the female image, and the ballerina performs within narrow confines and in an atmosphere of passive submission, which is full of aggression and provocation. The expression of "aggression" of the body also appears in works such as “Appropriate Education”, “Young Hero”, “Group Exercise”, “Psalm”, “Housewife”, etc. Women's bodies are no longer soft, and the inverted clothing structure also loses the proper function of clothing. The hard chest and the human body distorted by strenuous exercise make different social roles (female students, ballerinas, maids, and housewives) in the picture have a profound and implicit relationship between art and human identity. This misplaced identity image also implies a tangled relationship between visual control and power structure. In this exhibition, Fan Jing's works combine dramatic plots with her exploration of fiction and fantasy, which is full of infinite possibilities for interpretation.
Fan Jing, born in Beijing in 1983, graduated from the Oil Painting Department of the Academy of Fine Arts of Capital Normal University. She studied under Duan Jianwei and now lives and works in Beijing. Fan Jing's works often focus on depicting characters, and her works always focus on the confrontation, conflict, and balance between "force" and "tension" in terms of picture content and picture form. Her works have been exhibited in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Paris, Singapore, and other places, and have been collected by important private collectors and foundations.