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Jiang Congyi (Chinese, b.1963)
LOT ID: 66617
Two Smoking Girls, 2007

Acrylic, on canvas
51 х 43 in. (129.54 x 109.22 cm.)
Signed, J.C.Y. 2007 on front lower right
Lot description
Jiang Congyi was born in 1963, Henan province, and graduated from the Oil Painting Department of the Central Academy Of Fine Arts in 1983. Jiang also earned a graduate degree in 1987. This was a time when women were seldom seen as important contributors to the contemporary art scene. In fact, in early works by the artist, she signed her name as “Mr. Jiang Congyi”. Despite this gender hurdle, Jiang had quickly become one of the notable exhibiting artists on the contemporary art market.

With men still predominately garnering most of the attention in today’s contemporary Chinese art scene, the established images and styles of women we see depicted are almost exclusively created from the male perspective. Jiang Congyi seeks to subvert these memes by co-opting the use and depiction of sexy young figures. But the gentle pinks and soft brushstrokes belie the often hard, confronting poses and attitudes of Jiang’s models. These women are not playing the role of the passive object of the voyeur, but rather are taking an active – if not dominate – role in the dialogue with the viewer. Looking at a painting, we may find ourselves confronted with bold, unselfconscious glares of exhibitionist women seemingly in control of their own sexuality. Many may be smoking, pregnant or wearing what may be fetish attire.

This Jiang Congyi painting listed on Artnet shows two glamorized women who appear to be frozen in mid-seduction--brazen and in control of the viewer’s gaze. Here, the inherent movement and horizontal blurring bring to mind a film still or capture of a web clip. This reference is made more controversial considering that since 2002 the Chinese government has actively banned all pornography on the internet, and since 2008, anyone found creating any material deemed to be pornographic by the government, could face harsh sentencing. In fact, possessing pornographic material may result in year a three year prison sentence and fines reaching 20,000 RMB. This environment can lend a deeper meaning to these images as society’s growing desire for sexual freedom is becoming more and more in conflict with restrictive control.

Jian Congyi has been steadily exhibiting her own brand of “Pop Feminism” since the 1990’s and has been regularly featured at contemporary art fairs, including Art Basel Miami, Art Forum Berlin and important group and solo exhibitions, including the important exhibition “Chinese Female Artists of the 20th Century” held at the National Art Museum of China. Jiang Congyi’s works can be found in private collections in the USA, Switzerland, Singapore, The Netherlands, Germany, Hong Kong and China.
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