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Ken Yang

Born in: 1978

France

Biography
Translation in progress

“Trifles make perfection and perfection is no trifle” L. de Vinci, Notebooks Ken Yang’s work is rare. His discourse is unique. Painting is for him a form of asceticism, Art a deliberate life choice. He was born in Malaysia, a county where nature is luxuriant and where many traditions, cultures and communities live side by side. His talent revealed itself very early. As soon as he was able to hold a brush or a pencil he started drawing, painting and calligraphy. He liked to take solitary walks in the nearby forests, which brought him inspiration and serenity. He was awarded many prizes during his school years and studied at the Malaysian Institute of Art in Kuala Lumpur, better known by its acronym M.I.A., which exhibited his paintings and photographs in its first exhibit of a single artist. He graduated in 2000, after which he experimented with different artistic styles and media and received various prizes. He had always been drawn to the works of the European Masters and therefore decided to take an initiation trip and headed to Paris in 2002. On the day after he arrived, the first thing he did was visit the Louvre museum. He was amazed and delighted to set eyes on the works of the Masters. His fingers and his soul could finally touch the paintings he had seen until then only from afar. Thanks to his heightened sensibility and various study visits to European museums and art galleries, he has become closely familiar with Europe’s heritage, especially its pictorial heritage. He is also interested in antiquities and crafts. His Parisian workshop is a real cabinet of curiosities. Member of the Maison des Artistes (the French Artists’ Union) since 2004, he is a painter, a portraitist and a miniaturist. Slowly but surely, he has been developing his style. His paintings, with their symbolic bent, are not framed by a subjective conceptual construct. They are means for him to achieve exaltation through craftsmanship. As an esthete and a collector who is loyal to his calling, not only does he celebrate Beauty with the quasi-iconic, yet real, figures he paints and the noble materials which clothe and cloak them (silk, velvet, lace, fur, leather, mother-of-pearl, wood), but above all he captures it as a fleeting, formal manifestation of an otherwise transcendental, invisible Beauty that is difficult to grasp. His ‘old style’ technique is demanding. At times, it is reminiscent of Leonard’s sfumato ; at others, of Caravage’s chiaroscuro or of the realism of Dominique Ingres with his love for fabrics and drapés. Each of his paintings requires many months of daily work before it is completed. “Monastic work” as the painter describes it Ken Yang’s oil paintings are unusual. Each one is like a mysterious fairy tale, which unfolds before the eye in an elaborate composition. The protagonists, always a bit fanciful, look us straight in the eyes, admire themselves in mirrors. Sometimes they even turn their backs to us. The figures have a fragility about them and their spontaneous poses and peaceful faces and attitudes reveal unexpected strength with a subtle mix of control and precision. Nature, the gateway to contemplation par excellence, is always present somewhere, in the form of a flower, a little rabbit or a firefly delicately laid on the canvas, the artist’s signature touch. Ken Yang’s paintings are intended as both an archive of pictorial techniques which are being lost, and an update of esthetics that are seldom seen these days. Yet they are resolutely contemporary in their style as well as with the questions they raise. Maybe that is what gives them that disconcerting, timeless quality. Ken Yang is an inspired artist whose wellspring runs deep. He paints not with his emotions but with his heart. To be discovered, and followed. - M. H.
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