Peng Jian was born in Yueyang, Hunan Province in 1982. He graduated with an MFA from China Academy of Art at Hangzhou in 2013, where he still works and lives.
The Line of jiehua
Peng Jian’s paintings are bold in colour, and angular in line, channelling the force of the ancient Chinese architectural discipline of jiehua. The artist harnesses the ruler tools that were used to bring buildings to life in imperial times.
His paintings are complex and yet simple, historically inspired, yet deeply modern. They are tangentially influenced by the artist’s exposure to the works of Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich whilst at university. His style therefore also reflects the invisible thread which links geometric abstraction of the turn of the 20th Century to today. In the words of prominent artist Xu Lei: “Geometric Absraction is the most characteristic expression of modern art... Peng’s works echo the revival of such a style in contemporary art.”
Noting his academic background in Hangzhou and these paradoxes, international art critic, Barbara Pollack remarks: “Peng Jian manages to harmonize several different strains of art within his paintings because he is thoroughly educated in the history of each of his influences.”
Objects as Symbols
Peng Jian’s paintings rejoice in the angularity of books, and Rubik’s Cubes. The paintings are open to manifold interpretations: the cube may be seen, less as a symbol of the 1980s when Peng was born, and more as the visual embodiment of the ordered grid with bold colours in unexpected combinations, controlled and yet somehow unpredictable. Wear and tear on the books may reflect the randomness that creeps into the most ordered of settings, and also how age and experience complement and realize the role of theoretical learning.
In the artist’s words: "I define different objects in a limited space. I do so not just to depict a specific image, but by harnessing symbolism, I wish to express the hidden, profound meaning."
Earlier works, such as 2013’s Empty Room, depict the meeting point of grid and home. Here, the interior view of the artist’s home appears in the foreground, before meeting a fantasy landscape of Hangzhou behind the window. The window may be seen as the border between the artist’s life and his artistic life. Characteristically, the view of the city, whilst imagined, is not outlandish but ordered, controlled and angular: the channels of imagination.
Peng Jian’s paintings often create a dizzying effect, born out of the contradictory and yet simultaneous application of western and Chinese perspectives, where the viewer is forced to look into the painting from a traditionally Chinese 45 degree vantage point and then shift into a more naturalistic viewpoint as objects collide into their backgrounds.
In 2013, he held his first solo exhibition Through the Windows at Galerie Ora-Ora, Hong Kong. In 2017, he held a solo exhibition at the Liang Yi Museum (Organized by Galerie Ora-Ora) in Hong Kong, entitled Ten Miles Away. Peng has also exhibited at international art fairs including Art15, London in 2015, Ink Asia 2018 in Hong Kong, Art Basel Hong Kong 2017-2019. His works are collected by the Today Art Museum, the Liu Haisu Art Museum and the Fondation Louis Vuitton.
In 2019, Peng Jian’s new painting Harmony depicts those colorful "puzzles", "building blocks" and "Rubik's cubes” are described as metaphors, which triggered a reverse thinking in a reality that is too deliberately complicated. Peng Jian combins the Minimist aesthetic elements with traditional Chinese painting skill together which brings a physical relationship upto a philosophical level.