Yan Shanchun 嚴善錞 Hangzhou, China, b. 1980
Yan Shanchun, one of the first generation of artists to graduate in China when the academies reopened following the Cultural Revolution. Yan hails from Hangzhou, one of Southern China’s most beautiful regions and famous for West Lake, a freshwater lake in the region that has been a source of inspiration for artists and poets for hundreds of years, such as Bai Juyi, Su Shi, Xu Zhimo and Hu Shih.
Yan is predominantly inspired by the lake’s rich cultural history combined with the memories of it that followed him while he was working outside of China.
Yan is also interested in the tradition of the Chinese literati in China who cultivated their art in seclusion. Choosing to detach himself from the ambition of the contemporary art world, Yan embodies this time-past tradition. A trained traditional ink painter, the artist’s paintings focus on broader sections and perspectives of West Lake, using layer upon layer of pigment, combining this with faint hints of color and spatial tension.
More recently the artist has started to create copperplate etchings which depict or evoke more precise characteristics of the lake, using sulphur and olive oil to create recesses in the copper plate which in turn is printed on to Japanese ganpishi paper.