Kong Lingnan (b.1986) is a young artist who gained attention with her exhibition Only Her Body in 2011 at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing also known as UCCA. She is well known for her Neon Lights Series paintings, started in 2009. Using common oil colors, Lingnan draws with a particular technique that gives lines a glowing neon-like finish, resulting in lit-up paintings that “transport familiar settings, people and objects into the realm of dreamlike and unreal” as described by the artist Yang Shaobin. She has been exploring themes such as the interconnection between human beings and the world and the observation of the universe. Lingnan also finds great inspiration in modern Western literature as well as Chinese Classics.
From her first Neon Lights Series, her style has progressively evolved from figurative paintings depicting human figures lost in the wilderness to more abstract works. In the series Beach (2014), ‘People turn into varied-shaped dots, drifting in the ocean […] whose personal differences have been stripped off’ states Lingnan. In her paintings titled ‘Islands’(2014-15), the human presence has completely disappeared. Here Lingnan’s focus moves toward shapes, with a style featuring simplified lines and almost no perspective, turning islands into human cells. Last year in the exhibit ‘Contours’ named like the exhibited paintings, the artist went further toward abstraction. This summer, after a residency period in the UK, Lingnan showed a series of drawings and sculptures alongside a video work, the result marks the beginning a new chapter of her art practice. Once Lingnan said We are our own playwright, director and actor, being limited and bound by the script. What we saw is only the world we want to see. Nonetheless, as an artist, she proved that she could free herself from the script.