Ren Jianhui

Born in: 1956, ChenDu, China
Lives in: Singapore
Education: Graduated from Art Academy of Qing Hua University, taught by the art master Mr. Wu Guanzhong.
Describe your art in 3 words: Innovation, Style, Thought
See More Work:

Truth of the Soul 1 - Oil on canvas 82 x 110 cm

"Art is not merely about technique and style, but these are secondary elements serving the bigger function of art in sensitizing us to the human experience. I believe in the power of visual images to convey aspects of the contemporary world, and universal themes such as those of life, existence, and death."

What themes does your current work involve?
Love is the eternal theme of art, the essence of life, the flame of desire. To love is an instinctual part of self-exploration. In the pursuit of lust, bodies and hearts find themselves on the verge of mergence, capturing the harmony of yin and yang. This passionate eruption leads to the fierce entanglement of souls, expressed in heavily distorted and strained faces. The intense distortion and exaggeration of the objective world is the truth of the soul. Our souls symbolize our inner passions, showcasing the bitter struggles and humanity of survival. A viewer can almost delve even deeper like an X-ray and relate to the passion in their own hearts. It is an alternate depiction of emotions through bodily distortion. “Viewing not only with sight but through stimulation of the nerves."
Describe your creative process.
After exploring different styles and various media for more than two decades, I finally settled with oil painting. My emotions can be better expressed with a wider selection of colours and brushstrokes. Through semi-realism, I can show new-found energy in modern oil painting, which includes the combination of modernity and primitivism. With unique methods of processing the paint, I'm exploring the optimum way to treat background and foreground separately on canvas, while producing a perfectly complementary effect. I draw ideas from everyday life and nature. The desire to free ourselves from the complexity and rapidly changing nature of society – to find our inner peace, achieve spiritual independence and feel our own existence. I also work in series.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I’m inspired by the complexity and perishability of life; by the ever-changing yet eternal nature of its many aspects, including the relationship between man and nature, inter-personal relations and the meaning of life and death. The “simulation” that I seek to embody in my semi-realistic art, as well as my exploration of the interaction between modernism and primitivism, highlight the constant development and evolution of individuals and societies in response to external changes and reveal many truths about human existence. I’m also inspired by the teachings of Lao Tzu in “Tao Te Ching”, especially in this series. “All things carry yin and embrace yang.”. Two seemingly opposite yet interdependent essential energies that make up existence.
What is the role of the artist today?
The role of the artist today is not only to deliver good technique but also to have his/her works enlighten the viewer in seeing things that are not actually seen, beyond the primary stage of ‘seeing things as they are’. This involves a higher level of understanding and enlightenment that transcends reality.
Truth of the Soul 2 - Oil on canvas 82 x 110 cm
Truth of the Soul 3 - Oil on canvas 82 x 110 cm
Fading Civilisation 2 - Oil on canvas 200 x 170 cm
Fading Civilisation 1 - Oil on canvas 200 x 170 cm


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist

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