For the bulk of his career, Chinese painter Ling Jian has explored a contrast between Eastern and Western aesthetics, incorporating subtle conflicting ideals of beauty and desire via hyperrealistic portraitures wherein women are the primary subjects. For his first solo show in the US, Nature Chain, Jian further develops his ‘observational style’ via a different kind of animal... Sharks.
The North and South Galleries of the Klein Sun Gallery split up Jain’s oil paintings into two subjects of study. The Southern wing holds portraits of women where Jain comments on different contemporary conceptions of beauty. Jain tell The Creators Project that since the advent of the internet, our world feels much smaller than it once did, however, “our perspectives on values, society and culture are still very different. Our views on arts and culture are still different as well. This difference and freedom in thinking is derived from multiculturalism.”
The north side of the gallery features a collection of large-scale (almost floor-to-ceiling) closeups of shark reproductive organs, as well as painted scenes of their bodies gracefully intertwined in what the show calls "zoological intercourse." Jian tells The Creators Project, he referenced marine biology books and pictures from the internet, but the sharks in his paintings are actually derived from his imagination—more than replicas of real sharks. “Here, I wanted to point out the differences between biological depictions and art world depictions.” His painting explore “the contradictory relationships between the individual and external environment.”
In one of these sex scenes, a Shark is shown nibbling on the fin of their partner, inserting a kind of sensuality to animals that are universally perceived no more than vicious. Jain’s work begs the question, “is the evolution of sharks so different than the evolution of human beings?”
Decide for yourself, check out shots from the show below:
Ling Jian, Siren Series
Nature Chain is on at the Klein Sun Gallery Gallery in New York City through December 23.