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Yang Yongliang2021

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Press Release

Yuan Daxi: The Magic Flute

Matthew Liu Fine Arts is honored to present the latest solo exhibition The Magic Flute by the Chinese contemporary artist Yuan Daxi. Inspired by Mozart's opera The Magic Flute, which he completed in the last year of his life, this exhibition explores the artist's understanding and interpretation of Western culture, particularly classical music. Through his paintings, Yuan attempts to reveal the struggle and transcendence of the human soul under worldly troubles, showcasing the eternal power of spirituality.

Since the 1980s, Yuan has been dedicated to the transition from traditional Chinese art to Western contemporary art. He studied history, engaged in writing, and excelled in calligraphy and landscape painting. These experiences laid a solid cultural foundation for him and provided rich nourishment for his later artistic exploration. Yuan navigates effortlessly between tradition and contemporary, East and West, forming a unique artistic language. His works possess the artistic conception of Chinese ink paintings while absorbing the essence of modern abstract masters such as Kandinsky and Picasso, reflecting a pursuit of the fusion of Chinese and Western aesthetics. In the creative process, Yuan integrates a rich range of materials and techniques. He often paints on unsized linen canvas, allowing it to retain the texture of rice paper. In addition to acrylic paints, he boldly experiments with mineral raw materials such as sand, stone, and gemstone powders, creating a rough and thick texture. The artist skillfully employs strong color contrasts to create dramatic tension and express intense emotions. At the same time, his compositions reflect the mathematical and logical nature of Baroque music. Straight lines and curves, geometric shapes, and irregular patterns are cleverly combined, presenting a unity of opposites between order and chaos.

From the works exhibited in this exhibition, we can see Yuan's fascination with classical music. Among them, in the The Magic Flute series, which runs through the entire exhibition, the artist ingeniously incorporates the symbolism and philosophy of the opera into the paintings, metaphorically exploring the complexity of human nature and the transcendence of the soul. He attempts to express a sense of confinement with net-like lines, symbolizing the brilliant artist being fettered in real life. However, the leaping colors in the paintings also indicate the inner passion and desire for freedom. Just like Mozart's Symphony No. 40 "smiling through tears," the figures under Yuan's brush seem to be suffering, yet still bursting with unyielding strength. In the Fugue of Life series, Yuan further explores the structural mysteries of Baroque music. Fugue is a form of polyphonic music composed using counterpoint, rigorous in logic and rich in variation. The artist outlines intricate visual melodies with abstract geometric shapes, showcasing the multiplicity and infinite possibilities of life. The Voice of Spring, on the other hand, depicts the vibrant vitality of nature with bright colors and fluid lines. The uplifting melody seems to dance on the canvas, calling for life to return to hope and light. Another group of works, Chant and Ophelia's Song, are closely related to religion and drama. Chantemploys heavy color blocks and vigorous brushstrokes to create a solemn atmosphere, expressing the sublimity of spirituality in an abstract form, prompting people to ponder the meaning of life. The flowing lines and hazy colors in Ophelia's Song seem to sing of the early-deceased maiden from Shakespeare's pen. The fragility and beauty of life are touchingly presented in Yuan's paintings. In addition, works such as The Knight of the Rose, Italian Concerto and The Last Tango reproduce the essence of these classic musical pieces in bold and creative forms.

The exhibition, titled The Magic Flute, points to the path of spiritual redemption. The most famous passage in Mozart's opera, the Queen of the Night aria, expresses the strong desire for light and freedom with the ethereal and passionate timbre of the soprano. Yuan's paintings are likewise. In the complex and chaotic world, art, like a magic flute, plays a melody that penetrates the heart and leads people toward spiritual refuge. As revealed in the movie Oppenheimer, although the power of science is great, even outstanding scientists cannot escape the perplexities of life and the questioning of morality. On the path of pursuing truth, we have to face the struggles and difficulties within. Yuan, with his unique perspective and medium, depicts a landscape of the modern human soul and offers a deep consolation to those souls trapped by their talents. Under his brush, the classical and the contemporary, the East and the West, melt into a grand and subtle poetic song. Silence surpasses sound. At this moment, let us hear the echoes of the soul from Yuan's paintings and feel the interrogation and sublimation of life.


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