Hong Kong

Mao Yan

By the Edge

Jun 8–Jul 12, 2018

Pace Gallery is pleased to present By the Edge, Mao Yan’s third show with Pace, following the artist’s previous exhibitions in Beijing and New York.

Exhibition Details

Mao Yan
By the Edge
Jun 8 – Jul 12, 2018


12/F, H Queen's
80 Queen's Road Central
Hong Kong


Mao Yan, Young Man Wearing a Hat, 2017, Oil on canvas, 150 cm × 100 cm (59-1/16" × 39-3/8") © Mao Yan

The show presents a series of ten new works completed in the past three years, including a continuation of the artist’s renowned Thomas series, as well as still-life and landscape paintings that present a broader development in Mao Yan’s oeuvre.

Mao Yan is widely considered as one of the most preeminent contemporary artists in China. In his work, Mao Yan depicts everyday faces with fine and delicate brushstrokes, guiding his audience to enter an era of meditation and tranquility against the fast-paced world. In conjunction with this, his works hold an essence of revere for the historical and heritage value within the art of portraiture. Each of the exhibited works displays Mao Yan’s signature aesthetic of gray ashen tones. Along with layers and infiltration of oil paint, the concrete and explicit subjects are gradually translated into an abstracted analogy. Within both the portraits and still-life pieces, Mao Yan conveys a profound connection between his brushstrokes and emotions, creativity and an existential exploration. His poetic strokes transform portraits, objects and landscapes into a spiritual medium that surpasses the reality.


Mao Yan, Portrait of Thomas - 2016 No.1, 2016, Oil on canvas, 110 cm × 75 cm (43-5/16" × 29-1/2") © Mao Yan

The exhibition presents the latest works within the artist's most well-known portrait series, Thomas. Since 1998, Mao Yan has been using Thomas, originally an international student from Europe, as a model. The portraits of Thomas have been depicted, deepened and dismantled repeatedly throughout the past two decades until the subject is transformed into an ambiguous, vague and nearly imaginary face. Instead of sketching the model on the scene, Mao Yan's paintings are often based on photographs he personally took. The habit reveals the essence of the artist's creation. To him, painting is a private process. Being extremely patient in composing a visual representation of concrete objects, the artist initiates an inner self-conversation. Only through his sincere concern over not only his own spiritual world but also the destiny of all human beings can he impel the earnest power of art itself by this frustrating and self-doubting process of painting.To quote the Chinese poet, Han Dong, “he does not seek for agreement in the existing dimension, nor seek for any supportive answer from the illusion of future. He is more like a traveler, who turns and wanders around, as if his destination is fallen deep inside the history of paintings.”

Mao Yan.jpg

Mao Yan

Mao Yan is considered one of China’s premiere contemporary artists. He began studying painting at an early age, mastering advanced techniques by the time he was a teenager. In 1991, after graduating from the Oil Painting Department at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, Mao Yan began teaching at Nanjing University of the Arts, where he began to delve into portraiture.

Learn More

Hong Kong — Mao Yan, By the Edge, Jun 8–Jul 12, 2018