Tang Yongxiang

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Tang Yongxiang (b. 1977, Hubei Province) currently lives and works in Beijing. Using real life images as the entrance to painting, Tang works with the changing relationships between forms and between colors that are both constantly developed during the painting process. The images are mostly snapshots taken by the artist himself and often lack strong significations. Rather than arbitrarily manipulate the existing relationships embedded in the images, Tang prefers to engage in a restrained and persistent struggle with the images while relying on the given structures, leaving the surface with traces of the artist’s countless hesitations, decisions, and thoughts. In his painting process, contingencies and uncertainties would be the kinks in constructing new relationships.

In Tang Yongxiang’s paintings, the images are sourced from photos of everyday life that are not elaborate, to move slowly from the undesigned image to the painting. After painting a realistic depiction of the scene, Tang Yongxiang then began the enduring coverage process – a key aspect of his work. This mechanism, which resembles memory, involves repeated forgetting and remembering, leading to the emergence of new details. As layers of paint are applied, the object information gradually gives way to abstract blocks of color and lines, generating new positive and negative spaces that break the existing image structure.

As Tang Yongxiang goes back and forth between the image and the painting, his gaze re-recognizes what is being painted, leaving traces of hesitation while waiting for new possibilities to emerge. The result is a layer of skin that wraps around time, with everything visible faintly underneath.

Tang Yongxiang’s solo exhibitions include: Color, Lévy Gorvy Dayan & Wei, Hong Kong (2023);  Art Basel, Hong Kong (2022); Tang Yongxiang: Hei Qiao – Genealogy Study of Artists Project, SSSSTART Research Centre, Shanghai (2021); Shape, Magician Space, Beijing (2020); Tang Yongxiang, Magician Space, Beijing (2017); Tang Yongxiang, Magician Space, Beijing (2015); West Bund Art & Design, Shanghai (2015); Tang Yongxiang, Magician Space, Beijing (2014); Hemuse Gallery, Beijing (2012).

Selected group exhibitions include: New Artistic Styles of Contemporary Painting, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China (2024); 13+1 — Genealogy Study of Artists Retrospective Exhibition Season One, Start Museum, Shanghai (2023); To the Public: Please Read the Exhibition the Way One Perceives the Woods (Part 1&2), Magician Space, Beijing(2022, 2023); A Place for Concealment, Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing (2022); Eternal Seasons, Lévy Gorvy, Hong Kong (2022); Brushwork and True Feeling, Tang Contemporary Art, Bangkok (2018); Boundless Realities, Multiple Nows – Contemporary Art from Hubei as a Sample, Wanlin Art Museum, Wuhan (2017); Post Wave: Temperament and Avant-garde, The Barn Contemporary Art Space, Shenzhen (2017); Dissensus Agitation – The Painting to Language, Today Art Museum, Beijing (2016); Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong (2015); Inside – Outside, Klein Sun Gallery, New York (2014); XXX – Next 10 Years of Contemporary Art, Today Art Museum, Beijing (2011).

The Leaves are On Top, A Trunk In the Middle, a Vertical Line Underneath, 2023, oil on canvas, 200 x 150 cm

Two Trees, Some Green on the Left One, 2020, oil on canvas, 200 x 300cm

A Group of People under the Fruit Tree, with Many Small Windows, 2020, oil on canvas, 200 x 280cm

Tang Yongxiang, installation view

Tang Yongxiang, installation view

Tang Yongxiang, installation view

Three Basins, 2015, oil on canvas, 150 x 180 cm

Lu Mingjun | A Floating Fiction, Lurking Perceptions, and an Interwoven Form

“It is precisely here that these ruptures become the entry point into the canvas space just as he will always be able to see in unlimited ways a positive negative structure within a form. Just as Tang opens up new possibilities of a visual narrative within these ruptures, it is also possible that these narratives might always remain incomplete. Conversely, while the forms within the canvas may be unpredictable, because of the many different layers they can be viewed, read, and interpreted, this also signifies how the canvases are never entirely arbitrary in their making. In this way, any provisional rationalization or causal relationship that influences the act of viewing no longer seems to impede Tang as he develops a way of imagining forms beyond methods of description.”

Zhu Yingying | Impersonal Space

“What does he want to discard? The concepts imposed from the outside world, which includes motives tied to an aesthetic and system of categorization used to define materiality. When materiality is enabled to exist without a fixed notion of its concrete attributes or concepts, how does one connect back to the specific medium of painting again? It is from this standpoint, where the painter persists in the process of reshaping relationships of temporality and space through the language of painting.”

Zhong Shanyu | A Provisional Presence

“By engaging with memory, intuition, and the subconscious, Tang Yongxiang endows his work with an ethereal quality of estrangement. Material is culled from photographs and repeatedly function to extract information through engaging with the memory of the artist. The visual image is approached as an inexhaustible resource that offers unlimited possibilities of permutation – this also explains why similar icons frequently appear throughout his work. Suggestive of a compulsive tendency – when the back of a figure, the leg, or a still life appears, they each evoke a bewildering sense of déjà vu to the viewer. Yet these familiar archetypes and objects are merely the entry point into his paintings. They begin with a photograph, which becomes reconfigured via the artist’s own memory before appearing on the canvas. From there, they gradually begin to diminish – reaching a point of defamiliarization before eventually the painting becomes a record of sorts, capturing an instantaneous moment similar to the function of a camera. Perhaps in this way, his paintings can be regarded as the second take of the original photograph. Relinquishing the warmth of the body (although this does not entirely disappear), they become removed from the common attributes tied to the quotidian everyday object.”