Marilyn Monroe


Acrylic on canvas

80 x 120 cm



From the very beginning, the “TAMEN” art group ( LAI Shengyu and YANG Xiaogang) chose to work in this contradictory and collision mode, refusing to see the world from one person’s perspective or to create art in a fixed focus mode. The canvas is a place where two people talk and painting is their way of communication. They create things in the big world with their playful and witty artistic language. The two perspectives make their creative images more unpredictable. Conflict and contradiction themselves run through the whole process of their work, so that social and realistic topics are strongly expressed in their works by dramatic visual images. It is the direct dialogue between the images themselves that is their working method and focus, a method they have maintained together for 20 years since graduating from the Central Academy of Fine Arts. They chose ‘TAMEN’ (in Chinese: They) as the group’s name in an attempt to seek a system of free transformation between subject and object, thus blurring the boundaries between the viewee and the viewer. The exhibition, This World, That World, selects 42 oil paintings and prints from four stages of their 20 years of creation. It is an opportunity to present, study and observe their work, and to experience their youth and growth, their collisions and encounters, the rapid development of society and the interaction of Eastern and Western cultures.

Their painting style is influenced by the Surrealist master René Magritte and the Neo-Realist master Edward Hopper, but they never stop at presenting a single image or a single emotion. If you put their work from each period together, they look more like a montage film from canvas. What’s shown in their paintings, be it real or unreal, is reimagined with a sense of scenography and storytelling. The Eastern cultural attributes of their work are clearly visible, with a keen sense of time and space in the Chinese language of ‘world’. But they have also stepped outside the limits of Eastern culture and philosophy, remaining sober and honest in the face of the contradictions and conflicts of reality, and always being rational in addition to their sensibility. At the same time, the theatricality and even the absurdity of the images that emerge from this continuous and unrestricted dialogical creation is their way of confronting conflict and an attempt towards democracy on canvas. The time and space that they slowly unfold on the canvas is a unique method of artistic experimentation. It is precisely what touches people emotionally: the world on the canvas is perhaps the place which connects everyone’s world, the real and virtual world, this world and that world.

Resume of TAMEN
TAMEN is an art group founded by artists Lai Shengyu and Yang Xiaogang in 2002. The two artists were born in Hunan Province in 1978 and 1979 respectively. They both graduated from the Central Academy of fine arts majoring in printmaking, and both received bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Selected solo exhibitions:
2022, This World, That World, Werkspoor International Art Center, Utrecht, the Netherlands
2018, Immortals, Art+ Shanghai Gallery, Shanghai
2018, Mobile Theatre, Yang Gallery, Singapore
2017, One World, One Dream, Rong Bao Zhai Hong Kong Exhibition Space, Hong Kong
2016, Floating World, Yang Gallery, Beijing
2014, Outside Within, Art+ Shanghai Gallery, Shanghai
2013, Forget Themselves, Hunan Fine Arts Museum, Changsha, China
2012, Collective Memory, Canvas International Art, Amsterdam
2011, Past and Present, Beyond Art Space, Beijing
2009, The Lost Heaven, Museum of Hunan Province, Changsha, China

Exhibited in and collected by:
Katonah Art Museum in New York
Asian Art Museum in San Francisco
Washington Meridian International Space
Santa Monica Art Center in Spain
Cultural center of the Spanish Embassy
Sydney white rabbit Art Museum
Singapore National Art Museum
Korean National Museum of modern art
Seoul Lake Rock Art Museum
Seoul Art Center
The National Museum of modern art in Vienna
ZKM Museum in Germany
ESSL Art Museum in Vienna
The European Union headquarters conference hall in Brussels
The Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Japan
The China Art Museum
The Guangdong Art Museum
The Guanshanmoon Art Museum in Shenzhen
The China Millennium Monument Art Museum in Beijing
Beijing National Convention Center
Beijing Today Art Museum
Shanghai Museum of contemporary art
Tan Guobin Contemporary Art Museum, etc.

Their works were included in following publications:
2017, “Thirty years of Chinese performance art” by Zhu Qingsheng, a famous art historian and professor of Peking University;
2016, “History of Chinese oil painting” by art historian Liu Chun published by China Youth Publishing House;
2014, selected as “100 contemporary artists in the world” by the Chilean art magazine “arte al limit”;
2013, the English and French editions of “the History of contemporary art in China in the 21st century” published by Charta press;
2013, selected as “25 contemporary Chinese artists you must know” by the University of California, Berkeley;
2012, “The next generation: young Chinese artists”, published by Prestel, German publishing house.Selected as the cover and back;
2010, “The history of Chinese contemporary art: 2000-2010”, compiled by Lu Peng, a famous curator and art critic.