Yuan Yuan’s artworks are mostly based on architectural language. His inspiration comes from British artist, Richard Long. Yuan appreciates Long’s use of the environment to create “sculptures”, which renders art as a highly reinvigorating and interactive experience in relation to its surroundings. Yuan explains, “ruins give us a sense of security, they are living spaces without a sense of pressure so you can do whatever you want. Abandoned places are also public, meaning that you may enter and visit. This is similar to the process of a viewer who is looking at an artwork. I am trying my best to identify the residual traces left behind – not so much what the place has now, but rather what this place used to be for a long time, which no one can take away and cannot be seen.”
Based on using realistic settings in China, the fence surrounding the isolated building in Untitled (Lot 123) represents the division between the former heyday and the present decay. The integration of different architectural elements in the painting reinforces its materialistic existence that can serve as a discourse to reflect on the past and the present. Examining the details of the isolated brick-coloured Western architecture brings to mind the decadent period, where lavish lifestyles and celebrations took place. The windows of the structure are void of any signs of life within, suggesting a realm of emptiness. Appearing as harsh and blunt, the steel fencing is a newer addition that prevents us from approaching the structure. This isolated structure thus becomes a remnant of the past, immediately producing a certain regrettable and nostalgic sentiment.
In Common Ground (Lot 124), the artist placed common yet incongruent objects together within the same space, rendering the viewer to oscillate between the familiar and unknown territories. As a whole, the painting resonates with our daily experiences despite the insensible composition. The emptiness of the space seemingly reflects a community constructed by various individuals.
Yuan’s close-ups of the architectural designs pursues to ask how the evolution of a site over time parallels with that of our sentiments, filling our understanding of the passage of life.