About Liuqing Ruth Yang
Liuqing Ruth Yang, Painter
BFA Candidate West Virginia University
I am a portrait painter in oils. Valuing the traditional painting skills developed by European masters, I am particularly inspired by Renaissance, Classical, Neoclassical and Baroque Paintings. I explore individual humanism and personal subjectivity through multiple layering techniques. I am focused on sensitively describing the three dimensional space of the characters and their dynamic, vivid body language. Most of my paintings employ a dark background to make a strong, chiascoro contrast to the bright colors of my subjects. This is a very tedious, mentally and physically laborious painting process of repeated modification.
My artworks are greatly informed by the master painters: Raphael and Caravaggio, particularly their religious works, which are inspirational as a Christian. I also research contemporary painters examining and crossing cultures and painting methods such as Kehinde Wiley and Kurt Kauper. My paintings are tied with traditional painting techniques to explore Christian icons and symbolism, but replace historical figures with contemporary subjects wearing carefully chosen contemporary garb.
Take for example, my painting Disciple Of Christ. In this painting, my inspiration came from Raphael’s painting Saint Catherine of Alexandria, as a symbol of Christian mysticism. In my work, I focused on the visionary aspect of the subject, a disciple’s faith, and painted a woman as she would appear in this generation with her contemporary cloth. With her hand on heart, and her face looking up to heaven, she represents the humility of a contemporary Christian following Christ, but using Raphael’s traditional pose. Another painting I did, Financial Miracle, was inspired by early Renaissance painter Masaccio’s painting The Tribute Money. “The Tribute Money is a narrative fresco of St Peter’s life pulled from the Gospel of Matthew (17:24-27). In the specific passage, Christ has directed Peter to collect money out of the mouth of a fish in order to pay the tax collectors.” In my work, my model is a young boy holding a fish. He wears modern clothes and in his pocket are three golden coins. I want to bring the audience into the narrative to interact with the scene inspired by my own several and recent Christ- given financial miracles and to offer a contemporary version Christian symbolism to inspire others to reflect on Jesus Christ. I hope my paintings are a true portrayal of the torch of our time and let the audience feel that artworks are immediate, shortening the distance between art and the viewer’s life.
Liuqing Ruth Yang, Painter BFA Candidate, West Virginia University Artist BiographyCurrently a resident of Fairmont, West Virginia, I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting at West Virginia University in December 2021. I was born to a poor family in rural China. When I was 13, my mother died from liver disease, and I totally lost my educational support and had to quit school. However, at the age of 28, I was finally able to learn basic painting skills with a professional Chinese painter and was immediately drawn to the discipline. In 2007, I heard a voice telling me that I was meant to be a painter. In 2011 I came to the USA, I enrolled in the GED program in Morgantown, WV. I completed my GED and in 2015, I enrolled in West Virginia University’s BFA Program with a concentration in Painting. I was finally able to continue to learn painting techniques and ideologies with four different painting professors, notably studying contemporary painting with Professor Amy Schissel, a Canadian artist and traditional techniques with Professor Naijun Zhang, a fellow Chinese native. My portraits research and pictorially meld Chinese culture, the history of Christian symbolism in traditional painting, and speak to my identity as a contemporary Chinese-American. In my home country of China, Christianity is the target of government surveillance and persecution. Christian churches in China were demolished by the government and preachers were put in prison. As a Chinese-American I enjoy freedom of religion in America, but at the same time, I cannot forget those Christians who are being persecuted in China. My desire to present my ideas through the use of traditional compositional arrangements, using geometry and perspective from old Master works to represent God, and Figurative beauty of humans. I want to have my own stylistic development to re-represent historical painting in current painting. To paint now, we have to look back at old masters’ paintings to understand the history of our practice, and to gain wisdom to create new connections between history and contemporary art theory.
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