Mao Yan

Mao Yan is a prominent Chinese contemporary portrait artist. His subjects appear ghostly and mythical, though representational; his portraits seem like just an impression, lacking the appearance of tactile flesh.

Xiao Dai (2013-4)

Yan paints only in grey tones and often observes his subjects over long periods of time. His paintings are composed in a traditional style; often featuring seated nude sitters in order to lessen the influence of their identities. He removes the context of his paintings by erasing the background. This is so that the focus of the painting isn’t on the subject but rather on the emotion of the piece. These powerful, mood-making paintings project feeling not from the subjects but from the artist himself.

Plump Lady (2013)

I find Yan’s work extremely powerful and engaging due to the ethereal presence of the subjects. His style of painting is loose and blurred, as if he’s painting the trace of a person rather than their being. The way Yan paints his subjects would be an effective way to paint a memory and so it would be useful for me to consider painting in a similar manner to Yan for this project.


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