旅居多伦多的艺术家龔建英，生于北京，毕业于清华大学美术学院，现为森林中国美术馆视觉总监，作品以油画与自然光结合创作完成的系列当代艺术作品为主。(English by Daniel Chen)
Jianying Gong, an artist residing in Toronto, was born in Beijing and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts of Tsinghua University. She is currently the visual director of the National Forest Art Museum of China. Her contemporary artworks integrate natural light in her oil paintings.
Jianying Gong participated in a solo exhibition at the Bulgarian Embassy in 2015;
participated in the United Nations “Harmony of Man and Nature” group exhibition in 2016 and the 2017 Art Beijing Fair;
participated in the Sino-Russian Forum “The Story of Cultural and Art Exchange in Northeast Asia” and the New York International Art Fair.
Her “Light Clouds and Soft Winds” and “Young Maiden” participated in the auctions of the 2017 Jihua Spring and Autumn International Auction Company and the 2018 Poly International Auction Co. Ltd. respectively;
More than 10 pieces of her artworks have been collected by Chinese and foreign collectors and celebrities.
油画《灵》(spirit)I linen\paint，30x40cm 2019年
Most of Jianying Gong ‘s artworks are inspired by the beauty of nature and she incorporates her own touch to encapsulate it. A fortuitous discovery gave her inspiration and just coincided with her new creative concept . She observed the mystical change that occurs in her minimalist styled works when natural light shines through the window, illuminating her studio. The natural light changes the original painting, shining differently every time. The artist captures the beauty of this magical phenomenon through preserving it into her art and thus forming a seemingly living illustration. The artist has also observed that complex pictures easily ignore this phenomenon. Only in minimalist works can this interaction between light and canvas evoke refreshing warmth and bestow soul in the art. Most artists aim to study and explore more how to express light and color on the canvas. However, Jianying wants to express the beauty of change naturally formed between the two. As one would say, “Out of clutter, find simplicity.” According to their own perception and understanding of objects, each person will capture different aesthetics, as well as produce unique visual feelings.
Jianying Gong ’s creative philosophy and connotation of her works is applauded by an art review article by Mr. Chunhai Lian who is a Ph.D. in Art from Peking University School of Art, an associate researcher of the Fine Arts Institute of China Academy of Art, and a Master’s advisor.
油画《灵》(spirit)II linen\paint 76x61cm 2019年
When I first met Jianying Gong, the impression I had was that she was a very calm and easy-going person. However, when we talk more to each other, I had more understanding about her. I found out that under her calm appearance hides a persistent and strong soul, which was likely the reason why she could get rid of the mundane burden and lead her on the pathway to the realization of her dream as an artist. When she had her paintbrush in hand, she suddenly became so special and peculiar . Her artworks are the perfect reflection of her personality, full of passion .
When it comes to creation and the source of inspiration for the theme of the picture, the most talked about is probably “nature “. She seems to be constantly observing nature and talking to nature, When we watch her artworks, we find out that those artworks can present is far from the meaning of Nature, which seems like a paradox. In Fact, we may very easily misunderstand her artworks. The Nature that we understand might be the Things we observe in our daily lives or those connections established by our observation. However, we may all be “trapped” by her artworks if our minds or thoughts are still functioning in its normal way.
As a matter of fact, the artist has no intention of setting such a trap. What she presents us is not exactly what we think it should be. The Nature she observes, the nature she looks at, and the nature she takes, as what our ancestors had observed or felt, is the opposite of Human-beings, the surroundings of Human-beings. The Nature, in its English origin, has its definition of original features. It presents not only the superficial colorful world, but also the features under its appearance which represents an abstract of the world standing opposite of Human-beings. If we could understand her artworks from this point of view, without any doubt, we will find the right way to approach her.
油画《灵》(spirit)III linen\paint 60x60cm 2015年
As she says, she has read books in philosophy, Buddhism, Taoism and so on, which have imperceptibly shaped her artistic style and language. The traditional Chinese culture, unlike the Western’s, has no clear boundary between the different academic subjects. For example, the philosophy of Zhuangzi (An Ancient Philosopher) could be read as a wonderful fable or story, while the discussion of art theory is like prose. It is a philosophy without logic, a theory without rationale. However, it has constituted the most eternal tradition in China. The artworks created by Jianying Gong have, in fact, presented the spirit of the culture. They combined the poetic presentation with the profound introspection in a perfect way. The appearance of her artworks has constituted the vortex of consciousness pulling the observer into a world of metaphysical contemplation.
When it comes to the artistic features of Jian-ying’s works, we should first distinguish between the two “nature “. According to the true feeling and experience from the objective world, the artist expresses the work without any restriction on the canvas, which makes the work become the extension of the external world in its inner world, and another kind of “nature” is the effect of the work. Her artworks are extension of the reflection of the real world in her mind, which present a “scenery” that matches the objective world. Her works, especially her early stage ones, seem to contain many subtle details. However, if you observe those details, you will find those details extremely abstract. They do not seem to exist in the world we can touch or we can feel, even if those details seem very normal. However, they are the experience and the truth above normal that the artist wants us to feel. The artist attached her profound understanding of the Nature and her observation of world to the canvas where she presents the complicated features of the Nature in a simplified way. That experience is above what we could feel in the daily life. That experience is from our observation on the world. People can have different feelings of the world. However, when they understand more or are provided with more opportunities to understand the world, they have themselves closer to the Nature of the world. Generally, there is gap between the real world and what we understand of the world. But the gap is considered by us as Nature because it was the world what we are familiar with. The unique understanding of the Artist, sometimes like a ray of light, is able to isolate the Nature from the illusion of the world. The artist can remove those specious understanding of the world from her work. Thus we could know the reason why the Nature we feel from her works is so far away from the world we are familiar with. Her creation, literally, leads us to an abstract, or in other words, a high level of truth. The abstract removed the illusory shell or appearance of the Nature, which could be controlled by human beings. The true Nature is more like DNA, like quantum. The Nature is everywhere, but we could not understand the Nature by our eyes. We have to use different tools to know the Nature. The way we learn from using the tools will extend our ability to control the real world.
The Nature in the artworks of the artist, or nature in the second sense , is acyually the Nature to be constituted of the meanings of life. If the first stage in her artistic creation was an unconscious and spontaneous exploration, the second stage is a deliberate effort. With a clear purpose, she could be more sensitive to the color, the shadow of the light and everything surrounding her. She is not just waiting for the moment to come. She is actively looking for a breakthrough. When the magic light inadvertently breaks through the flower window, reflects in the corners of the room and is caught by her eyes, the light would never be escaped from her Canvas. The light in her artworks is different from what we saw before in very complicated artwork. The light is alive. Her artwork reflects different light in different time. Her works, in this time, becomes more abstract and even leads to the simplest way. It was not happening by chance. It was from her thoughtful choices. The artist believes that her artworks could generate an unexpected effect after the purification and re-shape of the lights. The inspiration from the interactive movements of the lights in her artworks helps her create more meaningful and profound artworks. These works will not focus on research and exploration of reflection of the changes of the lights in different circumstances. However, more focus is put on reflecting traces of the different lights in space and time. The artist knows that the colorful artworks will make people ignore the Nature behind the artwork itself. Dao Te Ching said:
Color’s five hues from the eyes their sight will take；
Music‘s five notes the ears as deaf can make;
The purification of the physical world can only leave the space to the spiritual world. The simplest way to present the artworks would empty more room for contemplation and imagination.
The artist’s work is obviously influenced by Newman, Roscoe, Lehman, Klein, Mondrian, Morandi and other artists, but in the abstract of form or language, she rejects the kind of “indifference” independent of human nature. She infuses warmth and gives poetic meaning to the daily images. “The birds return home and the water is clear and the forest is blossoming”. The artistic conception of dynamic nature means a lot for Jianying Gong’s creation. It is because of her knowledge and experiences and understanding of the Nature, the artist can focus herself on her art creation. The artist is able to learn from those masters. However, she is not limited by what she learned from the masters. She will make breakthroughs. I can believe that on this sunny road, her artistic journey will be better and better.