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Psyched Up
Courtesy of Gallery on Old Bailey
On Yu Feng-Liís canvas, the setting is often simplistic. Her contemporary models are meant to be the center of attention. At first glance, the models might just look sexy and alluring. What holds peopleís attention is, however, their hypnotic gaze, which envelops intricate human emotions awaiting interpretation.

Yu was born in 1981 to an artistic family in northeastern China. Her uncle is a professor at Luxun Art Institute. Under such influences, she started painting at the age of three with mentors including Tian Jin-Duo and Dan Zhou-Rong.

When she was 13 years old, Yu received a bronze award at the ASEAN youth painting contest. In 1995, she was given the gold award by a Chinese-Russian youth painting exhibition. A year later, she won another gold award in a Chinese-Japanese youth painting competition. With such talent, she eventually entered the prestigious China Central Academy of Fine Arts.

During her studies at the academy, Yu has always been commended by teachers like Tang Hui and Cao Li on her works. She took pleasure in exploring various artistic styles, especially in the world of portraits. She admires Rembrandt, Ingres, and Durer, whose portraits are exemplary for their detail and precision. On the other hand, the impressionistic touch of Edgar Degas inspires her to go beyond realism. Having gone through four years of training at the academy, Yu has evolved into a young painter adept in illustrating human figures.

What distinguishes Yu from other portrait artists is her curiosity to delve into the human psyche and seek for the ultimate reality. She believes that human beings in the modern era only show the most beautiful parts of their lives to others. Influenced by Freudian theories, Yu is interested in unveiling what is hidden inside the complex human psyche as she thinks the hidden part of us is the most genuine part of ourselves. She feels the need to visit the human psyche and explores the fluid feelings of joy or sorrow, being touched or being looked down upon.

Yu strongly believes that a fine artist has to be a fine psychologist first. A great piece of work is a clever interpretation of reality. She is a young, energetic painter who has her own way of thinking and her own strong humanitarian values. While we are moved by her paintings, we have to unveil ourselves and explore within. This is what Yu terms as the ultimate truth.

Images and text by NY Arts Magazine, USA

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