The Old Prince



Star Gallery will present The Old Prince — a dual exhibition of Duan Jianwei and Yan Cong — curated by Dongmen Yang from 19 June 2021. The exhibition will feature paintings that the two artists have created between 2007 and 2021, together with the launch of a book of the same title.

The Old Prince

By Dongmen Yang

Well, it is not that the "Little Prince" has grown old.
The image of this narcissistic French writer is shaped by being a pilot and his enigmatic disappearance. Then again, he is not the only handsome writer who has been a pilot. His masterpiece presents a simple allegory that never avoids the dualistic judgement - children are innocent, adults are trite and sophisticated. Simplicity, childishness, and truthfulness became children’s privilege until they were anointed with sacredness. It is as if one’s adulthood is bound to be far removed from paradise, tainted by one’s habits and sins, while children are always the stars in the sky we looked up to; the only salvation for adults is to guard children’s innocence. Hypocrisy. As far as I know, there are many evil children, but no shortage of the prince among adults. In the fairy tale, the grandmother pulls the bolt on the door for the wolf, who pretended to be Little Red Riding Hood, which was nothing more than a deceitful performance of a child. Most of the vulgar adults are untransformed giant babies. Only very few people immersed their bodies into the currents of time, allowed the illusion to overflow like bubbles, and gradually polished with reasons to reveal a rounded pebble-like innocence. Those may be referred to as a prince, even though they might seem aged.
In Duan Jianwei's and Yan Cong's paintings, one catches a glimpse of such adult naiveté. The people and objects in the images are at once unsophisticated, original, and straightforward, and they appear natural, calm, and ponderous. Everything seems natural without artificial touch, but rather they are the results of the painters’ endless refinement and transformation. Form and color have been repeatedly and deliberately pondered over, and there is no such thing as an idle brushstroke. The light-hearted humor in these imageries comes from the artists’ concealed restraint and composure, and every detail and every emotion has been accurately selected. Talking with them and watching them paint have brought me into their worlds, as if I am riding on a sled, gliding on a frozen lake, bursting with an inner joy into a peaceful surrounding.