Breathing Euphoria: A Tale of Two Portrayals

In a global pandemic where life becomes a luxury, artists Wanying Jin and Taher Jaoui give breath to their figures. Their portraits and figurative paintings, in distinct styles, hold emotions and longings that fulfill the lack of human intimacy during social distancing. “Breathing Euphoria – A Tale of Two Portrayals” celebrates the liveliness of their depicted figures as well as the freedom of expression despite various social and bodily restrictions.

“Rather than making up my characters, my job is simply to bring them to the physical dimension we live in.” – Wanying Jin

Wanying Jin is a Shenzhen-based artist with a focus on portraiture. She sees her figures as both fictional and real, breathing in a realm that she keeps an otherworldly connection with. The allure of Jin’s portraits is rooted in her unique sensitivity and compassion with all humans. The unorthodox characters in her work remain ambiguous in race, gender, and age, free from labels that would separate people from each other in the increasingly segregated world.

In her collage prints and larger canvases, Jin uses a combination of mixed media, including traditional painting materials and make-up ingredients, to build up realistic textures of her figures’ skin, jewelries, and attires. While the bold, stylish facial features of her figures and the unapologetic gaze deliver the complexity of humanity, the Renaissance-esque composition plays a timeless note of elegance — altogether striking a fine balance between classics and contemporality.

On the other hand, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Taher Jaoui to explore a new territory in his art. The Berlin-based artist has been known for abstract paintings with wild compositions, a full palette and a wide array of textures. In 2020 during his self-quarantine, Jaoui started to conjure figures as a vehicle to express his desires for human connection and self-reflection. Unlike his previous work where countless elements run to every corner of the canvas, his figurative paintings are carefully choreographed to render figurative shapes while retaining his signature visual lexicon of abstract shapes and mathematic symbols.

Jaoui’s figures, deprived of any noticeable human features, become a playground of free souls, one that allows a breath of free air. Before becoming a visual artist, Jaoui was an actor for a few years, during which he learned to use body and movement to convey emotions, which are now transferred onto his paintings. Full of energy, his figures serve as an entry point for the viewers to explore their inner feelings with no limits.

This show is organized by Uncommon Beauty Gallery and curated by Mengna Da.

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