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Updated: Mar 1, 2019

Artist 55


Surrealistic landscapes Painting, Photography

Tamen (他们) is an artist collective composed of two young artists, Lai Shengyu (赖圣予) and Yang Xiaogang (杨晓钢), who were born in Hunan Province in 1978 and 1979, respectively. The group is alternatively referred to as “Ta Men” and “They”, which is the English translation of their name.

They, "They", stage outrageous, surrealistic scenes in paint and photo collage that star an ever-changing cast of characters.

Though the scenes always take place on the same fictional "stage"—the corner of a cafeteria-like room in an urban high-rise—the location of the room shifts constantly as the window opens onto new horizons in every image.

These collaborative paintings have more than just the two personalities that make them—they may be classifiable as fully schizophrenic.

In their digital photographs and paintings, Tamen juxtaposes elements of traditional Chinese life—for example, a bride by a river—with symbols of the country’s recent meteoric industrialization and economic growth, like luxury sports cars.

The artists, who co-create every piece, cite René Magritte and Edward Hopper as influences, explaining, “Our pictures hold up a mirror to contemporary China. This mirror should not just show the outer layer of reality. We are much more concerned with the psychological effects of China’s rapid modernization.”

This bizarre series of artworks by Beijing-based duo, Ta Men (meaning 'They' in Mandarin), combines surrealism, collage and fine art painting for wildly unique results.

"An epoch of the late 1970’s generation, They reveal their attitudes towards realities of society and their circumstances in a different approach from the artists of the older generation. They, through interior and conflicting juxtaposition, display a contradictory nature of society that is both corrupt and progressive. However, they do not reject nor express any sarcasm towards the real world seen outside the window. Individuals are merely consuming or entertaining themselves."

For me these artworks speak to a lack of meaning or a reflection of a world where sense making is impossible. It’s an interesting perspective to consider we are all lost in a world of visuals.


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