“My work mirrors the legacy of minds hidden behind the fast changes. Within this mirror, sunken shadows travel in reality like dream worlds. I try to catch the emotions and feelings seemingly forgotten, and hold tightly the almost passed-away hectic stories and deeply buried memories in order that the today’s reality and surroundings can be known even though chaotic …”, Tang Nannan
Trained primarily as a painter, Tang Nannan left his easel to focus on photography in 2005, walking with his camera around the alleys and narrow streets of Xiamen, Fujian in China. He began to document images reflected in the puddles on the streets, shifting and changing with the constant rains and fell in love with the monsoon season.
The theatrical “black cityscapes” photographs slowly emerged; where things and people appear upside down, capturing a washed-out dreamlike atmosphere and his haunted loneliness. (16 photographs included in the exhibition)
Full of impressions and memories, Tang Nannan returned to his studio and to painting. “People who can not be named” watercolor portraits, almost iconic, depict the same people he photographed in the alleys of Xiamen. The style is greatly influenced by the immediacy and gestural brushwork of traditional Chinese ink paintings and provides a unique depth and range of cultural and art historical references while remaining fully rooted in a contemporary artistic language (40 watercolor paintings included in the exhibition).
The “Human Zoo” large scale paintings represent the sublimation and the further refinement of Tang Nannan’s artistic and personal journey. (6 large scale paintings included in the exhibition)“We see a strange family of naked men and women, calm and relaxed, with their ears missing. If we enlarged their faces, they become portraits of Buddha, full of wisdom. Elements from past lives and tradition, like rock formations, gardens and classical peonies, all symbols of the Chinese imperial courts, are juxtaposed next to popular culture signs like Mickey Mouse’s ears. Through the intensity of the subject’s gaze, we are pulled into an ambivalent intrusive voyage that eventually becomes reflexive and we arrive at ourselves.”
“Tang Nannan paintings open a place for imagination and reveal a particular aspect of the inner artistic landscape in contemporary China,”- Michele Mariaud, Living with Art