Chambers Fine Art is pleased to announce the opening of Artists continue to try hard by Yang Jiechang, the artist’s first solo exhibition in the United States. Born in 1956 in Guangdong Province, Yang Jiechang currently lives and works in Heidelberg, Germany and Paris. After graduating from the Guangzhou Fine Arts Academy in 1982, he took up a rigorous study of the Tao with the Taoist master, Huangtao. Simultaneously he became active in the contemporary art scene in China which was then undergoing rapid development. One of his aims is to promote autonomous regional and marginal expression. Yang Jiechang gained international recognition through the exhibition of his large monochrome ink paintings, severe in their abstraction and spirituality, in "Les magiciens de la terre" in the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 1989. A selection of these important early works is currently included in the opening exhibition of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. Nevertheless, his œuvre comprises a variety of media: painting, video, installation, and interventions.
Yang Jiechang’s solo exhibition entitled Artists continue to try hard is about self-cultivation as a kind of transformational activist strategy. At first sight the relatively conventional subject – self-portrait – mainly formulated in the traditional technique of ink painting and calligraphy –insinuates a rather predictable approach and series of paintings. Yet, Yang surprises the viewer through an ensemble of very original and naughty works, comprising a large self-portrait as standing nude beside which the title of the exhibition written in the artist’s handwriting in neon, and “Oh, My God” and “Oh, Diu” is written in the artist’s handwriting in neon, large calligraphies accompanied by video projections showing Yang writing and pronouncing the content of the calligraphies, and two other neon works. Both the emphasis on the calligraphic line and the reduction of colour highlight the aspect of activism and allude to the coarse aesthetics of Taoism and its philosophy of self-cultivation and sublimation. The kind of activist self-cultivation propagated here speaks of the artist’s conviction that every change first has to take part in the individual himself. The large neon calligraphy Artists continue try hard is part of Yang’s series 100% Permission by… that reinterprets works of other artists, in this case a work by Roberto Martinez. By including the contributions of other artists in his work and making them part of his concept and plan, change is spread from the individual to a larger community.