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September 23, 2011

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Home » Feature » Art and Culture

Gold-foil settings for ordinary people

ON gold-foil canvases evoking the background of icons, celebrated female artist Yu Hong depicts ordinary people doing mundane things in masterpieces of awesome realism.

These and other spectacular, out-size canvases are exhibited in a show titled "Golden Horizon" at Shanghai Art Museum.

Following her acclaimed exhibitions "In and Out of Time" in 2009 and "Golden Sky" in 2010, "Golden Horizon" is comprised of 29 paintings divided into three categories, including her latest body of work.

Critics have said her new works elevate the banal into the realm of the sublime.

The highlight is six-meter-high painting titled "Ladder to the Sky," related in subject and composition to the famous 12th century icon, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent from St Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai."

Against a gold background, the original depicts monks ascending a diagonal spiritual ladder to Jesus, while angels help them and demons try to drag them away.

With a gold-foil background, Yu's spectacular work puts ordinary mortals in a similar striving ascent of a ladder toward a goal.

Viewing her canvases has been compared with reading a novel that is narrative and dramatic. She is quick and accurate in capturing a character's physical and spiritual condition through the backdrop and detail.

"The characters I painted are people I am familiar with, like my mother," she says. "I know them well."

Yu is married to Liu Xiaodong, one of the heavy-weights in China's contemporary history, also known for his realistic and sometimes rough style.

Though distinguished in her own right, she has worked in his shadow for years, but her new works clearly set her apart from Liu.

The couple has been compared to distinguished painter Lee Krasner, married to Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), leader of the Abstract Expressionist Movement.

Date: Through tomorrow, 9am-5pm

Venue: Shanghai Art Museum, 325 Nanjing Rd W.


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