I stare at Feng Zhengjies works and I observe the images of men and women portrayed directly or created by the artists mind. Slide show of glances, many, different, of people that seem going in and out, passing fast through the life and the canvases of the artist. I look at them and they seem looking at me too, or looking at each other and suddenly being alive, even if unreal because of the plain forms and the exaggerated colors.Their eyes change and follow the artists mutations that, year by year, with different thoughts, look at his countrys history and culture.Shunned gazes, convict, not true, as if the girls in the series Butterfly in Love could have secrets to keep hided. Malicious and mischievous are the glances that seem crossing only in the series Romantic Trip; games played by young couples for whom the sole possible form of communication is loving attraction. Twinkles covered by big sunglasses in the case of the humanoids in the series Coolness: characters with naked bodies, big heads, bald, and in famous movies poses, similar to extraterrestrials that study our behaviors for mocking us.Side-eyed, distorted, because undecided and unable of choosing where to go in the series China and Portrait. They never look directly; they avoid the confrontation with an auteur that hides fears and insecurities.
Skin is also important. His first paintings seem studies of Anatomy of the Art Academy, with vermilion bunches of nerves and muscles. He keeps attention at each part of the face, as if he would dig underneath, with a consequent bitter delusion for having to go back to the surface, a white surface, glossy, a mirror of times.Feng Zhengjie is searching something, a signal of carnality, volume and consistence, in the others and in himself. In this phase of his work he is young, just graduated at the Fine Art Academy and, already, he is searching for his place in the world where he can express his ideas and show that determination that in future will be always his distinctive feature.
Then, after sectioning their skin and muscles, the faces become happy and plump as the ones in the typical Chinese New Year posters. These augural posters emerge in the XVI century as popular artistic form; they have gaudy colors and show historical, legendary, folkloristic and daily scenes. This form of art develops in the following centuries, reaches the zenit under the Qing dynasty, and subsequently gets closer to other kinds of advertising and political propaganda posters.The Maoism becomes pop and, through Feng Zhengjies interpretation, the figures get something of kitsch and grotesque. Little is enough to make these persons smile, the illusion of a romantic trip frozen by a photographic shot in a plastic and fake pose.
Time flows, historical phases go on and, with a critical look, Feng Zhengjie follows their evolution. It seems a sociological study, an investigation whose mark could be the demonstration of how much people are becoming more and more superficial. His paintings bi-dimensionality suggests how a feeble depth is hidden in every human being. The capitalistic society aims at the appearance, at a nice look and at perfect forms. But the exasperated hedonism is accompanied by the internal void, the absence of ideals, true feelings and personality.
In the last years, the artists subjects are exclusively female, charming women with a great sensuality, similar in the colors and simple in the shapes, but every one unique and different thanks to a perfect beauty in the changeable variability of the details.The lips, the distorted glimpses without knowing where to look at, and the never similar hairstyles are protagonists.Its the triumph of the fashion, of an aesthetic always interested on new trends, of accurate experience in observing how their flashing coiffures are modeled and shaped along with the musts and the rules that decide the concept and the sense of the beauty in every historical periods.High tech, disordered, very fashionable hairdos that imitate fashion models and stars that fill up magazines and television shows. Then, Thirties styled, waved, with flowers between the hairs, fixed pudding bowls because, we know, fashion repeats itself. Feng Zhengjie seems to follow these aspects with the attention of a girl who stresses her beauty through tricks and secrets to make herself cool.
Then the lips, channels for kisses and words left suspended, frozen. They are simple, hatched with few pencil strokes, filled up with an intense and homogeneous color. Its impressive how simply the artist could express such a strong sensuality. They are a link between the individual and the external world, a medium of seduction, communication, nutrition and respiration. Through them life goes by and, thanks to their softness, the women depicted by the artist catch all the attentions and, as calamites, attract the eyes of those who look at them.
Red lips on pale, white, pearled faces, this is the aesthetic canon in China: women use to hide from the sun because pallor is signal of elegance and regality; while a bronzed skin is typical of countrymen.A glacial white that makes stronger and more incisive the chromatic contrast in Feng Zhengjies works.Really important and impressive is in fact the study of colors that gives strength to his canvas. The most used variations are those of the red and the green, and these assorted shadows determinate a further relation between past and present, historical references and contemporary aspects. A part his personal taste, the artist explains me how much these two colors have been largely used in China. China is red and green and, this is obvious when looking around: old buildings with red walls and green roofs, jades, lanterns, tea, the ideology, the red of weddings and good luck auspiciousit looks like this country is bi-chromatic. Feng Zhengjie uses these colors but makes them fluorescent, electric, almost acid. These works are contemporary oils, where the red, taking inspiration from television and advertisings, is more and more lighted and tends to fuchsia, while the green is virtual, cold as an emerald, and from water-green sometimes it changes into blue.
These paintings are provocative and attractive, not real for their coolness, but at the same time alive for the heat and the eroticism that they spread. Its a strange mix, suspended in between, but with an incredible capacity of moving the audience. Few strokes on enormous canvases, big faces that cant see because lost in their thoughts and in a society that steals the perception of what really happens. A painting style unique, that distinguishes and makes recognizable this artist, and that lets us believe that, probably, perfection lies in simplicity.