Born in Beijing, Ouyang Chun graduated from the Department of Art Education, Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts in 1995. Not a painter honed in the traditional academic art practice, Ouyang was a high-school dropout, but he saw through the harsh reality of the true world after immersing himself in the complexity of society. He decided to let art lead him on a different path of life in search of true meaning and value. His street experience allows his oeuvre to be flowing with simple, rustic vocabulary, straightforward and clear – succinct composition with a hint of spatial confusion, representing traces of autonomous discipline training, which has cultivated themes mixed with real life perceptions and unrestrained imagination. Ouyang's artistic style embraces childlike innocence and preys on the many contradictions and incongruities in today's Chinese society and culture. But above all, he paints his own stories.
When illustrating these imaginary stories, Ouyang tends to employ rather simple approach of expression, harking back to the inner reflection of oneself and not abiding by the perspective of external visual value. In his artwork, popular identity system is nowhere to be found, for his subject matter is not intended to address social issues. Instead, fairy tales or legends have made multiple appearances in his paintings. Witch and Wizard No. 6 (Lot 306) depicts a witch and a wizard in front of a black background, donned in plain robes but strong with piercing eyes. They seem to come from a school of magic. Though the night is long and treacherous, the duo moves forward with resolute steps. The artist does not paint the background in a flat area of black colour, but dexterously uses patches of block-like brush strokes to transform the long night and abyss into a vague and mottled fragment of ambiguity, which further accents the perseverance and audacity of the witch and wizard. The coexistence of poetic charm and magical wizardry evokes an immaculate pureness and depth. Perhaps the artist longs to have possessed some sort of superpower, and at the same time, yearns to chase after the guiding light and hope, advocating an uncompromising honesty towards reality and experience of a spiritual adventure.
Disregard (Lot 307) showcases the artist's signature use of thick daubs of paint and high-purity colours. The canvas is divided into four quadrants, where the junctions are formed by fray edges, mirroring eyelashes of uneven lengths. A mosaic array of eyes in different colours scattered around the canvas, pupils of varying sizes hover in space, depicting the indifference of society and the countless apathetic eyes we pass by every day. Occasional glances, eye contact with passers-by, this type of casual indifference reflexively and conclusively bases a person's life on outward appearance. However, the hypothetical conclusion is contrary to the truth. Upon a closer look, the layers of stacked creamy white and pastel blue paint, the colourful eyes seemingly derived from spontaneous doodles, the pupils formed by rough brush strokes with gradient shades revealing the blank white; whenever a viewer locks their eyes on the eyes, the fright of nowhere to hide emerges, where self-awareness is bent into a unknowable confused state. Ouyang transforms his fascination for truth into powerful form of inquiries. The complexity of existence, attributes, images, and reality is intensified to give rise to a theatre brimming of enchanted colours.
Ouyang Chun is an artist of contradictions. This may be traced to his philosophy of artistic creation. He paints in an attempt to capture moments of life, and his paintings emanate a natural innocence, opposite of his own relatively complex life experiences and contrary to his elaborate rational thinking. The other reason stems from his paintings per se. Ouyang loves to paint. He doesn't care for the so-called concept of avant-garde in contemporary art. “My paintings are more tacky than sophisticated, so I don't know if I should call them contemporary,” he once quipped. At first glance, “tacky” and “contemporary” seem like contradictory concepts, but in fact they are both in quest of understanding tradition, to some extent challenging it, and giving art back to the people. The playful imaginative world in Witch and Wizard No. 6 and Disregard directly provokes the viewer's inner mind. They indirectly justify that traditional static, two dimensional paintings are not at a disadvantage, but are actually the pursuance of pure aesthetics through proper composition and resistance to certain ingrained tradition of contemporary art.