Duan Jianyu

b. 1970, Henan Province, China

Duan Jianyu was born in the Henan Province in 1970, she lives and works in Guangzhou.

She has always been interested in literature. The artist’s surrealistic and personal paintings develop in parallel with her texts, which present, as do her paintings, an imaginary world that is caught between reality and fiction. The paintings are figurative and narrative, but at the same time surreal and humorous. Motifs from traditional Chinese art, such as plum trees, orchids, bamboo, spruce trees and the mist-covered mountaintops in Guilin, are juxtaposed with banal everyday motifs such as watermelons and flight attendants. In the series of paintings called Sisters we encounter a figure who also appears in Duan’s texts with the same title: A female flight attendant who looks out of place carrying out agricultural activities such as feeding geese or carrying fruits and vegetables. The work also has a supernatural dimension, as the character is struggling through a landscape filled with marine animals and fur-covered monsters. Although Duan’s painting is based on a personal fantasy world, it can be seen as reflecting the situation in modern China, where elements such as tourism, travel and consumerism have replaced the country’s agricultural traditions and the closed system of Communism.


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