Cheryl McGinnis Gallery

Zhang Hongtu has shown with CMG for over 20 years.  While most of his new work is exhibited in museums and acquirable only in Asia.   I am thrilled to offer 5 paintings from "Re-Make of Ma Yuan's Water Album" available for collection.  2 additional paintings from this collection have been recently placed by CMG in private collections.

Lately, Zhang Hongtu has gone even further by challenging our vision of beauty and reality. The artist is quite shocked by the transformation of nature today and more particularly of water. What was once tranquil and beautiful in nature is now transformed or even vanishing. In “Re-Make Ma Yuan's Water Album," a new series of twelve oil paintings on canvas done between 2007 and 2008, the painter’s inspiration goes back 780 years. In the paintings, he keeps the format and the general composition of the original work. He tries to find the boundaries between today and yesterday. Zhang Hongtu is interested in the nature of water today and what people are doing to it. “I think that half of the rivers in China are polluted with industrial waste,” Zhang Hongtu told us in an interview in his studio in Queens, New York, last March. “I am not a defender of rights of people but I am using my heart to express my ideas and to make things visually beautiful.”

Zhang Hongtu "Blurred Boundaries" by Michéle Vicat

RE-MAKE OF MA YUAN'S WATER ALBUM C   (780 years later)

Oil on canvas, 50 X 72 inch, 2008

MA YUAN'S WATER ALBUM,  12th century

 

The newest series represented in the exhibition shows Zhang branching into environmental criticism. Called “Remake of Ma Yuan’s Water Album (780 Years Later),” these 10 paintings from 2008 present the ancient master’s beautiful scenes as they are today, badly polluted. They are brooding works, dark and atmospheric, yet still gorgeous in the manner of sunset colors spreading through smog. The paintings share a room with one of the museum’s permanent installations, The Water Supply of the City of New York (1938), a large topographical model made for the 1939-40 world’s fair. It’s a thoughtful juxtaposition that highlights one of the most foreboding critiques in the show.

Charles M. Schultz, Art in America 1/8/16

RE-MAKE OF MA YUAN'S WATER ALBUM P  (780 years later)

Oil on canvas, 50 X 72 inch, 2008

MA YUAN'S WATER ALBUM,  12th century

 

If in his new paintings, the mountains are still intact (although in reality many hills in China are covered with a green mesh that contains tons of rubble, earth and sand dumped on the land as refuse by urban construction workers), it is because the end of the world is not yet here. It is because there is still a tension between past, present and future that alerts us to the disappearance of this perennial magical beauty that has defined the rules of the aesthetics in China. Water already carries chemical, human and occasionally radioactive waste. Waste is damaging the quality of water and Zhang Hongtu wants to alert us by using a vivid palette of colors to depict the water.

Zhang Hongtu "Blurred Boundaries" by Michéle Vicat

MA YUAN'S WATER ALBUM,  12th century

 

RE-MAKE OF MA YUAN'S WATER ALBUM O  (780 years later)

Oil on canvas, 50 X 72 inch, 2008

Traditionally, old Chinese masters rarely colored the water. They relied on the texture of the paper itself. Because of that, it had a natural sense of flowing and created a peaceful feeling that we were going somewhere where we could find our identity. Zhang Hongtu shows the change through color. Today, water no longer has the color of the paper. He paints it green, or pink, or dark brown. The visual shock jars our retina. The world depicted is already dantesque and we have the sense that something in the composition is not working. Attention is required. The ink and brush strokes in traditional shan-shui paintings brought us to a subtle world of expected emotion. But, with Zhang Hongtu, there is a fine line between beauty and destruction. We are no longer confronted with an ideal world in which the visual parameters have been repeated generations after generations.

Zhang Hongtu "Blurred Boundaries" by Michéle Vicat

MA YUAN'S WATER ALBUM,  12th century

 

RE-MAKE OF MA YUAN'S WATER ALBUM S  (780 years later)

Oil on canvas, 50 X 72 inch, 2008

“In my new work, I take the beauty of an old work and I try to make beauty from the reality of today," Zhang Hongtu explains. "I still have a painting but something is changed inside the landscape, something that is a reflection on what is happening today.” Water and mountains are like the yin-yang. They interact in the painting in order to create the painting itself. A star, a tree, a boat, a human being can be added to balance the composition but it is the dialogue mountain-water/shan-shui that expresses nature, the ideal environment for Chinese. “Re-Make Ma Yuan” forces us to re-evaluate our approach to the artists’ work. Monet, Van Gogh, and Cézanne revisited by Zhang Hongtu tend to reshape our acceptance of the other. This is not an iconoclastic work. It is a work that juxtaposes cultures, creates an emotion, and makes us think about the notions of nature, image, and boundaries.

Zhang Hongtu "Blurred Boundaries" by Michéle Vicat

MA YUAN'S WATER ALBUM,  12th century

 

RE-MAKE OF MA YUAN'S WATER ALBUM L  (780 years later)

Oil on canvas, 50 X 72 inch, 2008

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