(B. 1963)
signed in Chinese; signed 'LING Jian Ling' in Pinyin; dated '2009' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
180 x 150.2 cm. (70 7/8 x 59 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2009

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Lot Essay

Ling Jian once said "Women are a symbol of time ... The beautiful ladies I paint are indeed the visualizations of our society and a new sense of nationalism, as well as a reflection of contemporary values and aesthetic standards." In the works Army Princess-Zhen Zhen (Lot 1255), Untitled (Lot 1296) and Peony (Lot 1254), the oval faces, almond eyes and luscious red lips faces of the female figures all seem overly idealized. The deliberately exaggerated facial and body features of the beautiful Chinese ladies, incorporate characteristics of both Westerners and Asians and also reveal the established international standards of beauty in most consumerist societies. The artist's brush is like the scalpel of a surgeon which gently crafts the ideal faces that he imagines, and the images produced are at once a conformity to extreme beauty standards of modern women, and a comment against it. The ladies depicted in Untitled and Shanghai Sky Cocktail (Lot 1297) with elongated slim arms, slender bodies and voluptuous breasts, suggests the arbitrary and extreme ideal beauty standards we impose upon ourselves.

Ling has also stated, "Temptation is a power to survive. People have to face the irresistible temptations of reality, commerciality, money, sex and so on. And I am always looking for such kind of truthK" The ladies' captivating eyes, sensual cherry lips and smooth skin are rendered with great naturalism that adds to Ling's creations of highly inviting and appealing image. In Shanghai Sky Cocktail, while the body of the lady is draped with accessories to cover her parted legs, it is all the more a provocative image of a contemporary woman. While Ling Jian's projections of ideal beauties are created to be beautiful, their still, distant gazes and generalized features brands them with a sense of manufactured artificiality liken to those seen in and justified by beauty and fashion magazines. In his works, Ling points to these accepted standards and perhaps laments on the overlooking of spiritual enrichment under the rapid changes brought about by a new capitalist era in China. The red shoulder patches, collar badges and the green uniforms reflect the artist's nostalgia and memories of the Cultural Revolution. Ultimately, Ling Jian's paintings are neither meant to be absolutely critical nor satirical. His images of juxtaposed cultural symbols expresses a personal observation and interpretation of the guidelines of contemporary society fit for his times.


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