By Miranda Coppeland (art critic)
Han Yuchen’s career blossomed in a thousand-year-old country, in the midst of a historical turning points in its history. Acclaimed with major exhibitions in China, like the National Art Museum, and internationally from Paris, to Saint Petersburg via Florence, the professional ascent of the man and the career of the artist are complemented and nurtured by each other despite being apart. Famous publisher Skira released a book about his art reflects this historical moment of China on many levels and constitutes a unique lifetime artistic career in Chinese contemporary art.
Han Yuchen’s love and deep fascination for the mountains, hence elevates him to the rank of curator and protector of this part of Chinese landscape and culture. As long as the artist paints, then what used to exist will keep existing. It is in this sense that art is a real driving force:, by making things exist, by making the invisible visible. This attitude of Han Yuchen to remain close to traditions is once again a testimony — perhaps even a claim? — that in the midst of a changing country certain important foundations remain.
In fact, we must not minimize the importance and the respect that the country has always attributed to academic courses, and this in all fields: art, sciences, mathematics, politics, economics etc… Some universities in China are considered, for right reasons, as temples of knowledge, and their representatives are very highly respected in society. Being able to teach in such educational institutions is a real honor for students and their relatives. In the West, we may tend to reduce this attachment to a form of conservatism, when it is actually much more important:, it forms a real backbone of an entire country.
During the long and rich artistic life of Han Yuchen, more changes will have happened in China than during a century in Europe. Not only Han Yuchen is a protagonist of these changes but he is also a keen observer who is definitely able, through his painting, to capture a real spirit of times. He is now celebrated in a solo show at the National Art Museum of Beijing for his long life career.
Han Yuchen’s works are unique, because if the academic style of the artist achieves a pictorial realism such as it is similar to photography, it nevertheless leaves enough room, spontaneity and liberty in the gesture, to that the painting itself transcribes the emotions and what the artist depicts on his canvas.
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