Yan Shanchun Biography

Yan Shanchun was raised in Hangzhou, a historically important city that is home to West Lake, one of China's most famous sites, that has inspired famous poets, scholars and artists since the 9th century. Both as a child and as an art student in Hangzhou, Yan Shanchun spent many hours painting and sketching by the lake, and its landscape has become an essential element of his painting vocabulary. For Yan, West Lake has become a kind of internalized physical memory, a landscape that he paints instinctively.

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Yan Shanchun's paintings of quietly intimate scenes of West Lake foreground the artist's distinctive painting language: here he uses a gently monochrome palette to creates luminous, semi-abstract works that focus our gaze on small scenes within nature. While the contemplative feel of his works and their gentle tonalities speak to classical Chinese landscape art, he uses his own blend of mixed-media to create these effects, including ink, green tea, and mineral pigments on a gessoed canvas surface. Yan's form of landscape resembles non-representational art, but never departs from the rhythm of nature, revealing the elegant structures within nature's seemingly random patternings. Here the moment of creation is hidden between faintest brush marks and loose, spare strokes on a field of textured white. His depiction of reeds and lotus and the sense animation brought by gentle breezes become portrayals of complete landscapes. In classical Chinese poetics, it is said that 'As soon as physical resemblance emerges, the true form slips from one's grasp.' Yan's delicate imagery seems to intimate a life force breathing with a gentle rhythm as it prepares to enter into hibernation; and the mind also feels at rest in its contemplation. Perhaps one could describe Yan as an artist who practices the dao through brushplay.

Yan Shanchun was born in 1957 in Hangzhou, China. He graduated from the Printmaking Department of the China Art Academy in 1982. In 2002, he became the Deputy Director of the Shenzhen Painting Academy, and the Academic Director of the Shenzhen International Ink Painting Biennial. His works are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Cornell University Museum of Art, Smith College Museum of Art, and Art in Embassies (AIE) of the US Department of State.


嚴善錞1957年出生於杭州,1982年畢業於浙江美術學院。2002年起擔任深圳畫院副院長,同時兼任深圳水墨雙年展的學術總監。現在杭州和深圳兩地居住和創作。他的作品被廣泛收藏,包括美國大都會博物館、洛杉磯郡立美術館、康乃爾大學強生美術館、美國國務院大使館藝術辦公室 (AIE)。

Text courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

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