Asian Beauty: Portraits by Yu Kawashima, Nugroho Wijayatmo, Zhang Xiangming, Li Guijun, Phuong Quoc Tri & Kwok Wan-hei

Fantasise (2016, detail view) by Nugroho Wijayatmo
Fantasise (2016, Detail view, Acrylic on canvas) by Nugroho Wijayatmo (Affinity for Art, Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong, 2016)

The paintings on this page, created by artists from Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Hong Kong, exemplify different ways of expressing female beauty. Many of the paintings tie tradition—whether it is in the use of traditional materials and techniques, depictions of traditional hair styles and clothing or references to traditional ways of representing women in art—to more modern sensibilities.

– Click on each image to see a higher resolution
version (2048 x 1365) on Flickr –

Yu Kawashima (川島優展), Japan

Déjà Vu by Yu Kawashima
Déjà Vu by Yu Kawashima (Whitestone Gallery, Art Central Hong Kong 2016)

With their large eyes, light irises, pale complexion, delicate features, thin eyebrows, wavy hair and long bangs, the twins in Yu Kawashima’s Deja Vu present an ethereal, modern and highly stylized version of beauty. Their dainty beauty is well-suited to the artist’s ‘soft’ painting style. Yu Kawashima’s artwork extends from Nihonga—Japanese painting using traditional conventions, techniques and materials (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nihonga)—but embraces the more modern style of his subjects. He uses ink and traditional pigments on Japanese paper (View the artist’s page at Whitestone Gallery: whitestone.hk/artists/d/?id=23).

Déjà Vu (detail view) by Yu Kawashima (Art Basel Hong Kong, 2016)
Déjà Vu (detail view) by Yu Kawashima

 

Nugroho Wijayatmo, Indonesia

Oriental No. 8 (2015) by Nugroho Wijayatmo
Oriental No. 8 (2015, Acrylic on canvas) by Nugroho Wijayatmo (Affinity for Art, Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong 2016)

The women in these two portraits by Nugroho Wijayama have a contemporary high-fashion look, as if they had just stepped out of the pages of a glossy magazine. Overlaid over the portraits are gold outlines of women as they were depicted in Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints—full faces, tiny features and elaborate hairstyles full of pins and combs (You can read the article The Representation of Women in Edo Period Nikuhitsu Ukiyo-e Paintings for more information and examples). The modern women in Nugroho Wijayama’s acrylic on canvas paintings— with their casual hairstyles and bare shoulders—certainly appear less constrained than their Edo-era counterparts, but women nowadays still face subtle pressure to meet what can be very selective standards of beauty (See the artist’s page at the Affinity for Art website: www.affinityforart.com/wijayatmo-nugroho).

Fantasise (2016) by Nugroho Wijayatmo
Fantasise (2016, Acrylic on canvas) by Nugroho Wijayatmo (Affinity for Art, Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong, 2016)

 

Li Guijin (李貴君), China

Like This (2017, Oil on canvas) by Li Guijun (Line Art, Art Central, Hong Kong, 2017)

Beijing-based artist Li Guijin specializes in painting adolescent girls, idealistically focusing on the purity and simplicity of this transitional period between childhood and adulthood. The girls in his painting are relaxed and elegantly posed and and appear to living in a kind of self-contained dreamlike world, untroubled by the harsh realities of the world. In his paintings, Li focuses on composition and technique and pays a great deal of attention to skin tones, using “a finely rendered mix of brown, red, blue, green, turquoise blue and white tones inspired by the artist Rembrandt” (Artist’s page at Schoeni Art Gallery).

Rain Alley (2017, Oil on canvas) by Li Guijun (Line Art, Art Central, Hong Kong, 2017)

Rain Alley: Detail (2017, Oil on canvas) by Li Guijun (Line Art, Art Central, Hong Kong, 2017)

 

Zhang Xiangming (張向明), China

Beijing Girl 2016 No. 1 by Zhang Xiangming
Beijing Girl 2016 No. 1 (Oil on canvas) by Zhang Xiangming (Soemo Fine Arts, Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong, 2016)

The subjects in these two oil paintings have a very ambiguous kind of beauty. Are they girls, teens or young women? In the oil on canvas painting above, is the purplish area around one eye a hint of a bruise or simply the result of inexpertly applied makeup? There is a kind of strength and resolve in the subjects’ expressions, but also a kind of vulnerability and innocence (See the artist’s page at the Soemo Fine Arts website: www.soemo-fine-arts.com/artist?id=866).
.

Beijing Girl 2015-09-02 by Zhang Xiangming
Beijing Girl 2015-09-02 (Oil on canvas) by Zhang Xiangming (Soemo Fine Arts, Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong, 2016)

 

Phuong Quoc Tri, Vietnam

Portrait by Phuong Quoc Tri
Portrait (Oil on canvas) mby Phuong Quoc Tri (ArtBlue Studio, Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong, 2016)

Self-taught Vietnamese artist Phoung Quoc Tri focuses on figurative painting with women being a favorite subject. His portraits tend to have a soft and warm feel and the women in his paintings often appear to be in a wistful, reflective mood (See the artist’s page at ArtBlue Studio: artbluestudio.com/phuong-quoc-tri).

Portrait by Phuong Quoc Tri
Portrait (Oil on canvas) by Phuong Quoc Tri (ArtBlue Studio, Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong, 2016)

 

Kwok Wan-hei, Hong Hong

Insularity by Kwok Wan-hei, Klio
Insularity (2015, Acrylic on canvas) by Kwok Wan-hei, Klio (Wi1 Wang4 Wang4 exhibition, Hong Kong 2015)

Kwok Wan-hei’s painting, Insularity, was shown at an exhibition of Bachelor of Fine Arts graduates from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Featured in the article Where do the New Batch of CUHK Fine Arts Graduates from here?). A main theme of the work is the coexistence of loneliness and sociability.

Insularity (detail view) by Kwok Wan-hei, Klio
Insularity (2015, Detail view, Acrylic on canvas) by Kwok Wan-hei, Klio (Wi1 Wang4 Wang4 exhibition, Hong Kong 2015)

Interestingly, she portrays the young women using a style that seems to be a cross between her subjects’ modern sensibilities and the Edo-era Japanese way of depicting women that was also referenced in Nugroho Wijayatmo’s paintings—with full white faces (but not quite so full, not quite so white), tiny red lips (but not quite so tiny, not quite so red), calm expressions, and small (but not quite so small) eyes.
 


In the portraits by these five artists, there is a sense of tradition and an emphasis on femininity, but the subjects in the paintings also embody elements of modernity. The portraits present a form of beauty that is delicate yet strong, a beauty that looks gently back to the past yet confidently embraces the present.


~by (longzijun)

artjouer

Return to Artjouer’s Gallery of Artists

 

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