Last month, Singapore staged a world-class art fair worthy any international artist. As mentioned before it was called Art Stage. The show was large, spread out and quite colorful in many aspects.
A serious art collector was asked? Do you know this Chinese contemporary artist who paints portraits, mostly of Chinese women in bright colours, with eyes looking in opposite directions? I told him the artist is Feng Zhengjie. One well-known gallery from Beijing had an exquisite piece of Feng Zhengjie hung in a corner. This piece is unusual because it is small compared to his usually very large paintings and the subject is also intriguing – Da Vinci in Singapore!
The same collector was asked if he liked Andy Warhol? He said “very much”. Do these two artists have something in common?
The signature paintings by Feng – huge flat close-ups of smooth-skinned and flawlessly coiffed young women, illustrated in sharp tones of green, pink and red – are the guilty pleasures of Chinese contemporary art.
Like a painting by Zhang Xiaogang or Zeng Fanzhi, wherever you see a Feng Zhengjie painting, in a New York apartment, or in London or in a house in Japan, it is essentially Chinese. Yet it is never out of place because it embodies the essence of Chinese Contemporary Art. It is Chinese pop art that is both modern and bold.
Feng paints Chinese actresses and through their faces, we see both the fashion, focus and distraction of modern China as an emerging economic superpower. The eyes are looking at the past as well as the future and can not decide which one should prevail or is it East and West at the same time.
Although they are different individuals, one could see parallels between Feng and Warhol. Both are controversial and use faces in the entertainment world as their subjects. They redefine the concept of pop art in their own culture and generation and execute their work with sensibility, but maintaining their own distinct look for their art. The primary colours is eye-catching and attractive.
Feng has similar background in advertising and grew up watching movies.
Well, every artist has its own style and need to develop from it. When I visit his studio last october I could catch that the new women are getting camouflaged in flowers that are either green or red and not so outstanding as before. To me very interesting and catchy. The comparison is interesting but the viewer and collector surely thinks they have their own identity and style and should not be compared as such. Do you agree?