A selection of thoughtful surrealistic paintings by Jingyi Wang, a contemporary visual artist based in New York City. Her personified cactus creatures represent the complex human nature and relationships.
Although a self-admitting ‘pessimist,’ Jingyi Wang looks for ‘hope in despair.’ Her spiky paintings, ironically, have a softness that pervades. The cactus, a metaphor for many things, resonates with Wang. She has employed cacti as motifs in her paintings since 2016: artist and subject have built a longstanding relationship that continues to evolve and surprise. Now, more than ever, the relationship between humans and nature is at the forefront of one’s mind. Constant is the reminder that ‘respecting nature is respecting ourselves.’ The pandemic has only heightened this position of thought; our reliance upon nature and one’s own delicateness is clear. Jingyi Wang is audacious in her process and paints her hybrid cacti-human characters directly onto canvas using oil paint. Less often, she begins with a sketch to determine the configuration and tone of the paintings with watercolors. Whilst the remarkable amalgam of cactus and human in her paintings draws one’s eye with immediacy, the vision extends to dreamlike landscapes in indulgent pastel colors or nostalgic black and white. Nature is always the overarching context of her artworks and plays a big part in her life. Scenes of her homeland inspire, and desert vastness incites longing. The artist’s paintings make reference to the surrealists, particularly René Magritte. Her luminous portraits, in their traditional format, also speak to the renaissance and baroque eras. Wang’s artworks exude a similar grandeur and light, however, she exclaims that they refuse categorization and in this sense, wrestle with time. As much as they could have been executed in the 1920’s or much before, Wang’s paintings feel poignantly of this moment. Her artworks are imbued with anxiety and nervousness, yet are assuaged with playful and humorous tones.Jingyi Wang