Painted in 2007, the same year as the artist’s first solo exhibition in London, Paper Bride, Grey Mood stands as an iconic example of Zeng Chuanxing’s celebrated Paper Bride series. In vogue with the adaptations of classical realism techniques that formed the zeitgeist of early twenty-first century Chinese art, Zeng Chuanxing’s Paper Bride, Grey Mood is a tour de force of his mastery of oils.
Painted with painstakingly detailed brushstrokes, the artist’s dexterous hand has transformed the flat canvas into a tromp l’oeil of texture and jaunty surfaces. Light catches the sitter’s eyes with a startling reality as her unbroken gaze confronts the viewer. Believing that it is only the eyes and hands of an individual that give true representation of the human soul, these two anatomical features remain a clear focus for the artist throughout his oeuvre, adding a unique character and personality to each of his models.
Echoing the growing Western influence on Chinese culture at the time, the crumpled paper drapery stands out from the two dimensional plane with a lifelike reality reminiscent of an Old Master painting. Further dialogue between Western and Chinese tradition continues in the bride’s paper fabric with the symbolically chosen colour schemes by the artist. Each of the Sichuan minority women portrayed in this series are clad in either white or red paper; white representing Chinese tradition and red representing Western tradition. The collection of Sting and Trudie Styler is fortunate enough to hold examples of both of these post-Cultural revolution era inspired works in both colours, with Paper Bride, Red Grass Sea and Paper Bride, Grey Mood.