Art Plus Shanghai

Tamen

Tamen (他们) is an artist collective composed of two young artists, Lai Shengyu (赖圣予) and Yang Xiaogang (杨晓钢), who were born in Hunan Province in 1978 and 1979, respectively. The group is alternatively referred to as “Ta Men” and “They”, which is the English translation of their name. As a collective, they reject notions of self and individuality in art by co-painting each work and collaborating in a manner that draws attention away from the individual. Lai and Yang received post-graduate degrees from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in the Department of Printmaking, and are currently based in Beijing working at Beihang University (BUAA) in the Department of New Media Art. Tamen was founded based on the artists' common understanding and ideal of contemporary art. Expressing doubt at the overwhelming image of the self as advertised by their generation, they slough off these false notions, replacing ‘self’ with ‘they’ and seeking individuality via the collective. The two artists co-paint, co-operate, and co-practice, a wholly collective process that refuses to delineate between the artists – a lack of focus on the individual that distinguishes Tamen from the last and present generations of artists in China.

Tamen’s work focuses on the psychological effects of China’s new affluence and its contemporary state of being. Through works of oil on canvas or digital photography, scenes of big-city China or serene nature are flush with symbols to visually emphasize the tension and collisions that Tamen sees as the constant revolution in China’s society. Adopting both montage and Pop Art forms, Tamen plays with the spatial relationships between landscapes, architecture, objects and figures to highlight the curious simultaneity of China’s past and present. Reality is juxtaposed with illusion and tranquility with anxiety. Adding a healthy dose of ridicule and incredulity to the mix, Tamen criticizes the human appetence hiding behind images and falsehood and the sheen of modern affluence. By holding a mirror to the objects and symbols to which contemporary society has attached itself to, Tamen uses its novel visual language of surrealism and critical realism to offer a philosophical analysis of man’s inner feelings in this new world – those of bitterness, solitude, and distance. They have gained acclaim in China and abroad for their Same Room series of paintings, and have since shifted towards exterior scenes in natural landscapes, displaying Western-style painting techniques with a traditional Chinese ink aesthetic and thought-provoking conceptualizations.

The collective has been featured in publications such as Young Chinese Artists: The Next Generation, and their work can be found in the collections of the Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum (Beijing), Guangdong Museum of Art (Guangzhou), White Rabbit Collection (Sydney), and Essl Museum (Vienna). Major solo exhibitions include Forget Themselves (2013, Hunan Museum of Art, Changsha), Past and Present (2011, Beyond Art Space, Beijing), and The Lost Heaven (2009, Hunan Museum of Art, Changsha), and notable group exhibitions include and Pure Views: New Painting from China (2011, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco). Tamen’s 2014 Outside Within solo exhibition at Art+ Shanghai Gallery marked the collective’s first solo exhibition in Shanghai.

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Works

Serene Arcadia
Serene Arcadia (一山一净土)
Oil on canvas
80 x 100 cm
2014
The Meadow
The Meadow (芳草地)
Oil on canvas
80 x 100 cm
2014
Elephant Riding
Elephant Riding (骑象)
Oil on canvas
100 x 190 cm
2014

A Break in the C...
A Break in the Clouds after the Rain (雨过天青云破处)
Oil on canvas
90 x 140 cm
2014
Frozen Water
Frozen Water (冰水)
Oil on canvas
100 x 300 cm
2014

 

The Bride and th...
The Bride and the Sea (新娘与海)
Oil on canvas
100 x 80 cm
2014
Seven Fairies
Seven Fairies (七仙女)
Oil on canvas
90 x 120 cm
2013

 

To See a World i...
To See a World in a Wild Flower (一花一世界)
Oil on canvas
90 x 140 cm
2014
Evanescence
Evanescence (融)
Oil on canvas
90 x 140 cm
2014

 

 

A Chance Meeting
A Chance Meeting (萍水相逢 )
Oil on canvas
60 x 120 cm
2014

 

 

New Chinese Wome...
New Chinese Women No. 1 (金陵十二钗之一)
Oil on canvas
120 cm (diameter)
2009

 

 

New Chinese Wome...
New Chinese Women No. 2 (金陵十二钗之二)
Oil on canvas
120 cm (diameter)
2009

 

 

The Sea
The Sea (海)
Oil on canvas
130 x 180 cm
2012

 

 

 

The Girl and the...
The Girl and the Island (女孩与岛)
Oil on canvas
140 x 270 cm
2012

 

 

 

Dream
Dream
C-Print
60 x 40 cm
Edition: 8
2011
Reminiscing in J...
Reminiscing in Jiang River (相忘于江湖)
C-Print
60 x 40cm
Edition: 8
2011
Mona Lisa Smile
Mona Lisa Smile (蒙娜丽莎的微笑)
Oil on canvas
90 x 140 cm
2008

 

 

 

Imitation Hamilt...
Imitation Hamilton “Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different So Appealing” (他们仿汉米尔顿《是什么让我们今天的生活如此迷人、如此美丽》)
Oil on canvas
90 x 140 cm
2008
Dinner Party
Dinner Party
C-Print
80 x 120 cm
2007

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