Yan Shanchun is among the first of a generation of artists who emerged from the academies when they were reopened after China's Cultural Revolution. Yan grew up in Hangzhou, a city built beside the West Lake, a source of inspiration for poets and painters for hundreds of years. Memories of the famous lake and celebrated viewing-points never left the artist and became the inspiration for much of his work.
Entitled “Album – Fuchun #8,” this painting belongs to the artist’s recent series “Fuchun,” the name of a scenic river south of Hangzhou that was the subject of several generations of important traditional Chinese ink painters. Directly translated as ‘Abundant Springtime’, the Fuchun river is flanked by low-lying mountains on either side, and the landscape is green and lush. He presents the series in the form of small scale ‘albums’, resembling the open pages of an elaborate sketchbook. The works in the series are more colorful than his previous canvases, with bright greens and aquamarine making their way into his compositions.
Many literati have eulogized these mountains and rivers, but their reputation in art history can be traced to the masterpiece “Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains” by Yuan dynasty painter Huang Gongwang (1269–1354). This formative work left a lasting impression on Yan Shanchun and introduced the idea that rather than being strictly representational, his depictions of scenic landscapes could be guided by distinctly personal emotions and perspectives. On sketching trips to the Fuchun region, Yan felt a visceral response to the soil in particular – it was the type of fertile earth that reminded him of the years that he, like many others of his generation, spent learning to farm in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution. Seeking to capture this emotional response while portraying the physical attributes of the landscape within his Fuchun series, Yan began to use more comprehensive materials, such as gypsum powder and latex, to build the thickness of the “soil” on the picture, conveying the depth of the verdant Fuchun terrain and expressing a sense of weight.
Acrylic on canvas, mixed media. Framed.