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Yang Jiechang celebrates 30 years of collaboration with the galerie Jeanne Bucher Jaeger
Véronique Jaeger and artist Yang Jiechang. Photo © Vincent Rola, Courtesy Jeanne Bucher Jaeger, Paris.

PARIS.- To celebrate 30 years of collaboration with Yang Jiechang, the gallery is presenting the exhibition Dark Writings, in conjunction with the major retrospective entitled Three Souls and Seven Spirits at the Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum, from November 6, 2019 to February 9, 2020.

Two artists supported by the gallery for years. Two parallel artistic paths between East and West. Mark Tobey, from Wisconsin, whose artistic journey is closely linked to his spiritual evolution. His encounter with the Baha’i faith, his travels to the Far East and his contacts with Zen are decisive in his work as well as in the creation of his White Writing. This series, partly exhibited in Shanghai, echoes Yang Jiechang’s Dark Writings exhibition in Paris given at the same time, presenting some twenty works from different creative periods representing the artist’s entire career.

Originally from Foshan, a Buddhist, Daoist and Confucian city in southern China, Yang Jie-Chang lived there until the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1978. In 1970, he joined the Red Guards, which he finally left to train in traditional Chinese calligraphy between 1974 and 1978 at the Institute of Folk Art in Foshan, and from 1978 on at the Academy of Fine Arts in Guangzhou, where he acquired a great mastery of calligraphy and ink painting. The year 1982 was marked by his lifechanging encounter with the priest Huangtao who introduced him to the Way of the Dao. From that moment on, I entered a grey and black world. From that moment on, he also chose to change his name to Yang Jiechang— “he who asks to heaven.” The way of the Dao is an act of creation in its own right, far from any ideology, rather favoring a primordial availability. The artist said in 1991: “I hope that my daily life will become more and more a meditation. That’s why, when I paint, I don’t paint. My paintings are not paintings. My ideal would be to keep them away from any trace of paint.”

His friendship with the art critic Hou Hanrou opened the doors of the West to him: in 1989 the artist was presented by Jean-Hubert Martin in the exhibition Les Magiciens de la Terre at the Centre Pompidou. “We had the good fortune to discover Yang Jie-Chang in Les Magiciens de la Terre, in which his work seemed to us the most disturbing element,” said Jean-François Jaeger, who exhibited Yang’s work for the first time at the 1989 FIAC, then devoted a first solo exhibition to him at the gallery in 1991. Since then, the Jeanne Bucher Jaeger Gallery has presented his work in numerous solo and group exhibitions (the last one in 2016 on the occasion of the artist’s 60th birthday) and has supported his work in exhibitions within international institutions.

“Yang Jiechang’s work avidly seeks out permanent openings that allow contact zones, frictions, and debates of ideas, but never in the spirit of nihilism, destruction or oppression. His work is never imbued with a leveling and globalizing pluralism, but rather is filled with the constructive energies born from the uprisings of thought through images. To understand Yang Jiechang’s work is simply to recognize how much the essence of his art focuses on a radical availability and a permanent openness to the unexpected, to accidents, to the living. This permanent state of creation observed in everyday life leads him to glimpse art in its possibilities of expansion but also of the power relations specific to creative risk-taking and the practices of freedom. Yang Jiechang’s work is not a naive contemplation of the manifestations of the living, for the artist never hesitates to rub his works materially and formally against the signs of politics, the taboos of the body, eroticism, or death. Without any didactic, militant or voyeuristic inclination, Yang Jiechang’s works point out the aberrations as well as the creative potential of our collective systems of living, both in the East and the West.”

--Larys Frogier, catalogue of the exhibition Yang Jiechang - On Ascension, galerie Jeanne Bucher Jaeger, 2009

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