It is with much honour and delight that Connoisseur Art Gallery sets the stage for ZHANG Guo Ning's first solo exhibition ever held in Hong Kong. Titled "Hutong Remembrances", the exhibition will showcase 20 of this Beijing artist's latest works, all of which centre around the subject of the hutong - a unique, intricate feature of the cityscape that characterizes the charm of old Beijing.
Hutongs are alleys or lanes that serve to connect the various dwellings in the city. In essence, they are small, narrow passageways formed by the closely-knitted quadrangles, or known as siheyuans in Mandarin. Shaped by four houses surrounding a central courtyard, the siheyuan is a special form of residential architecture typical to Beijing. They vary in size and design, yet all bear the same important mission - providing homes to generations of Beijing families and standing witness to the vicissitudes of the glorious capital of China.
In ZHANG's paintings, viewers are invited to take a stroll down Beijing's intricate maze of hutongs. In "Leisurely Afternoon", ZHANG depicts the mood of a relaxing, spring afternoon with a scene from the inner courtyard of a hutong where we find hints of the resident's lifestyle, the bicycle and pet songbirds. The towering steeple of Beijing's famous White Dagoba Temple can be seen in the distance beyond the outer wall of a hutong neighborhood in the "Warmth after a Snowy Night". The weathered brick wall, painstakingly carved lintel, antique wooden doors and the pair of ornamental stone sculptures in "New Year Celebration", display the artist's mastery in the depiction textural differences and subtleties of light. A morning walk through the hutong proves to be a memorable experience of the coming of spring, as ZHANG masterfully portrays the melting snow-capped roofs and passageways in the "Tranquility of a New Day". Within the grey-tiled courtyard houses and seemingly endless alleyways, an idyllic, unassuming lifestyle is presented within each painting. Indeed, to discover a glimpse of life in the hutong, there is no better place than through the works of ZHANG.
Born in 1960 in Beijing, ZHANG Guo Ning has quickly established his name through the portrayals of Beijing's most unique and fascinating characteristic of the city scene - the hutong. He has participated in the China Art Exposition for six consecutive years, and is considered one of the most popular Beijing artists, having widely exhibited in the National Art Museum, the Cultural Palace and the American Embassy in Beijing. ZHANG's unparalleled artistic virtuosity has received international commendation, making his work a special favourite among private collectors from all corners of the globe.