On view currently at Blum and Poe Gallery in Los Angeles is a 20-year retrospective of the work of Chinese painter Zhu Jinshi, exhibiting the expressive, bold works in oil-based paints he has created since he began his career in the late 1960’s.
A member of the revolutionary art collective the Stars, Jinshi and his contemporaries challenged the communist imperatives of post-Cultural Revolution Maoism. Spurning the traditionally accepted classical styles and propaganda-driven work, the Stars created a new emphasis on the individual in Chinese art, a remarkably resonant feat in the face of a government actively working against this conception.
Jinshi’s paintings involve thick, broad strokes and globs of paint, applied to the canvas using a shovel or spatula. The result is a striking interplay of color and texture that manages to blend a dynamic potency with serene understanding of space and composition. Fittingly, this sense of contrast and balance pervades almost all aspects of Jinshi’s work; 10 ft tall canvases stand next to those of only a few inches, maximalist layerings hang directly adjacent to nuanced strokes of paint spread across several canvases. An interesting shift in color can also be seen in these works, in his newer paintings, Jinshi moves from his old earth-tones and organic colors to more vibrant pairings of reds and blues, purples and oranges.
With titles frequently alluding to Buddhist culture and a Chinese heritage, the works on view exhibit a peculiar balance between the mid-20th century Western Expressionism and the traditional focus of Chinese mark making and landscape painting. The show is on view until July 7th.
Zhu Jinshi – Scholarly Monk’s Residence (2006) – Blum and Poe