Author: DUAN JIANYU 段建宇
Signed and dated: Painted in 2011
Final Price: RMB 1,300,000
2011 Duan Jianyu - Apotheosis of Imagination / P44-45 / Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House
2014 Xiangjiang River Running North - Tan Guobin Contemporary Art Museum Collection / P196-197 / Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House
2011 Art Changsha， Hunan Museum， Changsha
2014 Xiangjiang River Running North - Tan Guobin and Chinese Contemporary Art， Tan Guobin Contemporary Art Museum， Changsha
In the modern process of evolution of art and aesthetics， three main aesthetic forms can be recognized： loftiness， ugliness， and absurdity. To a certain extent， the basic characteristics of Western postmodernism are still defined by the aesthetic paradigm of absurdity. Many contemporary Chinese artists examine reality and express their inner world from a perspective of the absurd. Duan Jianyu is one of these. However， the term “absurd” with regard to her works only refers to the intuitive feeling that overcomes people at first glance， because as the works’ essence is further explored， one will find out that the artist uses the narrative of the picture to give viewers a feeling resembling the reading of a novel. In series such as New York， Paris， Zhumadian， Sister， and Going Home， Duan often tells a story through fictional protagonists. In the Goddess of Art series， the plot thickened and matured with time. The artist chose a goddess — representing honesty， kindness， and beauty — as her protagonist and puts her in various everyday scenarios， such as villages or fields. The images initially seem both rational and logical， but a closer look reveals that there is a huge difference between the legendary goddess and the actual images， creating an interesting and striking contrast.
The Art Muse Who Just Woke Up 2 is different from other works in the Goddess of Art series， as it does not feature a goddess appearing in rice fields. This painting embodies Duan’s rebellion against classicism. If one compares this work with Valpinçon Bather by the neoclassical artist Ingres， they will find that the protagonist of the latter has a realistic body shape， subtle back， and delicate skin tone， while the author of the first one challenges the aesthetics of classicism. Duan portrays the so often idealized human body in a twisted way by parody， mimesis， and misconstruction. Around the “goddess”， the artist painted various random items， such as musical instruments and vegetables， in a way that the composition of the whole scene seems to violate common sense and logic. Here， the “goddess” no longer represents “elegance” and “high class”， and the general aesthetics became vulgar： it is a healthy， simple， and familiar image of a naked woman. The Art Muse Who Just Woke Up 2 cannot be interpreted in the categories of classicism or realism， as it completely deconstructs the idealized， unnatural image of women present in classicism. Moreover， this work also carries the imprint of “consumptionsim”， as the objects portrayed refer to contemporary phenomena.