Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Chinese Peasant Paintings

After visiting the Zhonghong folk painting village outside of Shanghai I couldn’t help but wonder if these peasant paintings could be considered a form of contemporary Chinese art.  Their simplistic style and use of solid colors flattened the images and created an odd sense of perspective that reminded me of avant-garde paintings from the turn of the 20th Century.  Although these paintings are depictions of daily life and folk culture, they are not painted in a realistic manner and make use of abstraction and patterning in its representational images.  Some of these painting have an interesting play of color and a simple stylized technique that is concurrent with the folk lifestyle.

However, paintings from artist to artist show very little variation.  It seems as though a style was developed and simply appropriated by the whole lot of Chinese peasant painters.  Any degree of creative is only shown through the composition and the scenes the artist chooses to paint.  But even these details are generally very similar from painting to painting.

These artists are working in their own gallery spaces and selling work, but upon visiting a painting village, one will notice that the row of galleries feels as if it belongs to some kind of mocked up theme park, designed to attract tourist.

There is tradition and style to these works, but little innovation and place within the changing times.


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