Yang Jing, a conservator of The Palace Museum for thirty years until 2000, is an artist based in Beijing, China. She is specialized in restoring wood and terracotta. Between 1988 and 1990, she studied at the Graduate School of the Central Academy of Fine Art (CAFA). Bean-pasted artwork is Yang Jing’s invented medium. She utilizes natural color and shape of individual beans through rearrangement to “paint” figurines, animals, theater, historical epics, fables, and folk tales. Yang Jing is a member of the China Folk Literature & Art Associations (CFLAA) and Committee Member of the China Art and Handicraft Society. Yang Jing maintains her studio in Beijing. We are pleased to represent Yang Jing in Singapore.
From beans she moved on to drawing and clay sculpture. With its history in the arts of China, clay gives her work a degree of gravitas which is balanced by humorous subject matter: pampered pets, domestic space, and the retired Chinese woman. Her retired Chinese women sculptures reveal their real-life counterpart’s attitude: health-conscious, laid-back, and curious about the world, the consequence of becoming “suddenly wealthy.” Her drawings are influenced by her own life tending to her pets, home, and socializing with friends.
The element of surprise or an abrupt transition from one kind of life into another also informs her sculptures Women of the Imperial Qing Harem that depicts Imperial Qing concubines. Women of royal lineage are eligible to become Imperial concubines regardless of material wealth, and the court looks after her and her family’s needs. Girls enter the palace in their teenage years and live in the palace until their death, and many concubines do not see the Emperor in their entire life. Yang Jing writes of the concubine in her introduction to the exhibition: “…once selected into the royal harem, one would experience all the pleasures that life had to offer. Yet beneath the appearance of luxury and royalty, these women lived like incarcerated golden sparrows.” Hence, concubines took part in activities like playing with pets, making embroidery and other leisurely things between their court duties.
Yang Jing’s and her work’s uniqueness comes from their friendliness. It does not pretend to be mysterious or struggle with abstract concepts, yet each piece contains an episode from her past or a historical link. It is an admiration of things that allows one to feel at ease, or rather, an admiration of the self without pretension.