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b. 1976, China

Tu Hongtao Biography

Tu Hongtao is a Chinese painter whose large-scale landscapes infuse the dynamism of Chinese calligraphy with post-war abstraction, drawing inspiration from both real and imagined environs to evoke a lyrical journey through space and time.

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Born in Chengdu in 1976, Tu Hongtao studied at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute before graduating from the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou. At the turn of the millennium the nation's economy was soaring and an attendant urbanisation was in motion. The artist migrated to Guangzhou and Chongqing, where he was sold clothings at a local market to support his artistic practice.

Tu Hongtao's early artworks observe densely crowded and anxiety-ridden metropolises whose homogenous landscapes provide a backdrop to the attenuated bodies of women in sexually suggestive poses, such as Chengdu, Tokyo or Shenzhen (2006). 'As an outsider, someone who had just landed in this community, I was completely overwhelmed,' Tu said in a 2015 interview with Christie's. 'These intense works produce a claustrophobic atmosphere where everything is for sale, even people.'

Tu Hongtao returned to Chengdu in 2008, settling in an artists' village near his hometown. The agricultural environment of his studio triggered an artistic transformation, resulting in a departure from his earlier Neo-Pop approach toward a deeper investigation into the histories of landscape painting. Tu's foundation in classical Chinese painting provided a basis from which to do so, bridging Chinese literati traditions of calligraphy with Western aesthetics.

'Western abstract art is based on [the] representation of the physical and then its deconstruction', the artist told Christie's. 'Chinese painting has always had an innate abstract sense. Traditional Chinese landscape paintings show this through their use of single lines and blank space.'

Tu Hongtao synthesised the influence of historical Chinese painters with the post-Modernist achievements of Cy Twombly, Brice Marden, and David Hockney. Similar to Hockney, Tu composes his landscapes from several photographs, often reworking sketches to create composite spaces in which multiple viewpoints convey the passing of time. In The Forgotten (2012), for example, trees, and water are suspended within ambiguous spaces and highly animated brushwork.

Tu has closely observed the narrative techniques of Jin Dynasty painters such as Gu Kaizhi (c. 345—406), whose Nymph of the Luo River provides the direct inspiration for Tu's Goddess of Luo River (2016—2018). Gu's horizontal scroll situates figures in isolated intervals to show a linear narrative unfolding, while Tu's contemporary vision offers moments of vivid colour and a fractured perspective that imbues the canvas with a durational quality.

Amy Weng | Ocula | 2020

Tu Hongtao Featured Artworks

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Nestling in the Hills by Tu Hongtao contemporary artwork painting
Tu HongtaoNestling in the Hills, 2020Oil on canvas
130 x 100 cm
Lévy Gorvy Contact Gallery
Thinking of Summer When Autumn Arrives by Tu Hongtao contemporary artwork painting
Tu HongtaoThinking of Summer When Autumn Arrives, 2020Oil on canvas
130 x 100 cm
Lévy Gorvy Contact Gallery
A City of Sadness by Tu Hongtao contemporary artwork painting
Tu HongtaoA City of Sadness, 2019–2020Oil on canvas
180 x 280 cm
Lévy Gorvy Contact Gallery
Falling Leaves Rustling Down by Tu Hongtao contemporary artwork painting
Tu HongtaoFalling Leaves Rustling Down, 2019–2020Oil on canvas
270 x 210 cm
Lévy Gorvy Contact Gallery
Flowers in the Mountain Shades by Tu Hongtao contemporary artwork painting
Tu HongtaoFlowers in the Mountain Shades, 2019–2020Oil on canvas
270 x 210 cm
Lévy Gorvy Contact Gallery
Green Mountains Shall See Me Like This by Tu Hongtao contemporary artwork painting
Tu HongtaoGreen Mountains Shall See Me Like This, 2019Oil on canvas
260 x 840 cm
Lévy Gorvy Contact Gallery
Sweet Utopia 甜蜜的乌托邦 by Tu Hongtao contemporary artwork works on paper
Tu HongtaoSweet Utopia 甜蜜的乌托邦, 2019Composite material on paper
110 x 76 cm
A Thousand Plateaus Art Space Contact Gallery
Gully 丘壑 by Tu Hongtao contemporary artwork painting
Tu HongtaoGully 丘壑, 2018–2019Oil on canvas
70 x 90 cm
A Thousand Plateaus Art Space Contact Gallery

Tu Hongtao Recent Exhibitions

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Tu Hongtao Represented By

Lévy Gorvy contemporary art gallery in New York, USA Lévy Gorvy Hong Kong, London, Miami, New York, Palm Beach, Paris, Zurich
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