Marlborough Fine Art is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Beijing-based artist Song Yige, curated by Zeng Fanzhi. The exhibition is the artist’s first solo show outside of Asia. Known for her figurative paintings, Song depicts everyday objects and anonymous characters, alongside subjects from the natural world in imaginary settings.

Her atmospheric works feature modest items often eschewed from their pictorial background. Through large-scale emotive and unsettling paintings Song merges childhood memories with autobiographical settings to reinterpret modern society. Themes of human emotion underpin the work, with a sense of loneliness and nostalgia inhabiting much of Song’s practice. Empty interiors, solitary objects and figures depicted from behind or with obscured faces are enveloped by vast space - a representation of the human experience of living and coexisting within the cityscape.

From early on in her career Song distanced herself from the trend of depicting popular culture and cartoon imagery, which had defined the work of many of her post-1980s contemporaries in China. Precisely rendered using her own artistic language, her works engage with classical ideals of representational painting and subtly evoke Western figurative artists. Sparsely coloured with layers of thinly applied paint, what at first might seem like innocuous subjects, are cast in an unfamiliar and eerie yet engaging manner. Dramatic contrasts between light and dark produce an unusual glow to her painted surfaces. Unique in their intricacy and layered with ambiguous narrative possibilities, the viewer’s attention is focused onto the experience of observing.

Born in 1980 in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, China, Song Yige graduated from Luxun Academy of Fine Arts, Liaoning Province, in 2007 before moving to Beijing where she now lives and works. For nearly 10 years, her work has been supported and collected by Zeng Fanzhi, an artist widely considered to be one of China’s most influential. Song’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at prominent institutions and galleries in Asia including the ARTMIA Foundation, Beijing, China (2010); Hyundai Gallery, Seoul, South Korea (2010) and Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong (2011).

Since opening its doors in 1946, Marlborough Fine Art has been engaged with the art of China. The gallery was one of the first in Europe to show contemporary Chinese art and in 1953, opened Chinese Paintings, an exhibition of work by Professor Chao Shao-an and his pupil Lydia Chao Ling-Fang. In 1993, the gallery opened New Art from China: Post 1989, which included the work of 22 Chinese artists. This was the first time that artists such as Zeng Fanzhi and Fang Lijun had been exhibited in Europe. In 1995, Chen Yifei, one of China’s most significant artists, joined the gallery and the first retrospective of his work in Asia, The Homecoming of Chen Yifei, was held. The exhibition toured from the Shanghai Museum in 1996 to the China National Museum of Fine Arts, Beijing in 1997. Marlborough went on to organise Chen’s XLVII Venice Biennale exhibition in 1997.