798 stands for much more than a three digit number: in Beijing these numbers symbolize the country's cutting edge art movement led by the Chinese vanguard, unchained artistic personalities with alternative life goals. Wild and unconquered attitudes waft inside 798's free and rambling atmosphere. This area feels a kinship to what can be discovered and sensed along the Left Bank in Paris or around Greenwich Village in NYC.
Beyond the Image

Beyond the Image
Hu Youben Solo Exhibition
Dates: Dec. 8, 2007 -- Feb. 20, 2008
Venue: Yan Club Arts Center
Location: No. 4, Jiu Xian Qiao Road, Chaoyang District, 100015 Beijing, PRC
Tel:  8610-84573506
Time: Monday to Sunday 11am -- 6pm

Yan Club Arts Center is pleased to announce an exhibition of selected works on paper by Hu Youben.

Trained in traditional painting, Hu Youben has found a way of making ink painting fresh and contemporary.

Hu Youben was 6 years old when the Cultural Revolution started. His father was a calligrapher, and the family was sent to the countryside for political reasons. "The Cultural Revolution was a very difficult time for my family", the artist explains, "we lived in very poor conditions and my family suffered a lot from this. I saw painting as a way of transcending this situation, of changing the destiny of my family".

In university, Hu Youben realized he could not go beyond traditional painting and progress anymore in this way. He then started to find new ways of expression. Using traditional techniques of painting, Hu Youben explored ink play in the form of abstract figures. He then started scratching and folding the paper, inspired by artist Zhou Sicong's treatment of the paper. Using this new technique, he allowed the paintings to become progressively abstract.

The new technique culminated in 1997. At that time Liu Xiaochun saw his work and decided to organize a solo exhibition at the National Museum of Art in 1997. "This was the starting point of my career. After this exhibition, I was invited to the Shanghai Biennale and many other shows" says Hu Youben.

Hu Youben paintings look like three dimensional landscapes. The folded paper resembles mountains, rivers, natural shapes. "I was always quite fascinated by natural phenomena and changes of the sky. In my paintings I try to express the bond with nature that I feel when I go to the mountains or look the clouds, a kind of echo between the landscape and myself."

In traditional painting terminology, Hu Youben has found a new 'bone' in the folds of the paper. "Every fold and every color I use express a different emotion, a different state of mind. It is also a way of feeling more in touch with nature, a way of expressing my belief on the wholeness of everything. In Buddhist words: "a grain of sand resembles the universe, the universe resembles a grain of sand"."

"I want to put all my different moods and feelings into art, sometimes I see myself as a translator of emotions on paper. Each brushstroke and every piece of paper I use is alive. It is filled with life and it acts as a muscle that moves. They are active and endowed with spirit".

Hu Youben was born in Beijing in 1961. From 1987 to 1989 he attended advanced studies at the Beijing Art Academy, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, and Hangzhou Academy of Art.

Hu Youben's works have been exhibited at the Shanghai Biennial and Guangzhou Triennial, as well as in a solo exhibition at the National Art Museum of China. He has also participated in multiple group and solo exhibitions in China, Germany, France, Italy and United States. Hu Youben currently lives and works in Beijing.

(Artron.net December 8, 2007)

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