Leng Jun: Reform and opening-up saved the soul of the generation
Updated 18:15, 31-Dec-2018
By Ding Siyue
‍Recognized for his still life paintings and detailed and realistic portraits of women, fine artist Leng Jun endows his works with vitality and richness of color. His paintings have been sold regularly at auctions throughout China and have been acquired for private and institutional collections worldwide.
After the reform and opening-up policy in 1978, China saw a boom in its cultural industries, making up for what had been lost in the past decades. And Leng's student-hood came at this important time period.
"Century Sceneries 3" by Leng Jun /CGTN Photo

"Century Sceneries 3" by Leng Jun /CGTN Photo

“For people like me who were born around the 1960s, we were teenagers at the time when we formed our worldview. That was a great opportunity. Looking back, reform and opening-up really saved the soul of our generation,” said Leng. 
"At the time, information coming from the West greatly contributed to the enlightenment of our people. It also laid a very solid foundation for my later creations," he added.
Leng uses his work to express his attitude and views towards the world. In the 1990s, he created a large number of paintings with critical themes. After the collapse of a department store in S. Korea, Leng created "Century Sceneries 3." In the painting, children's toys are surrounded by industrial rubble, showing the weakness and helplessness of people in an industrial society. And in “Century Sceneries 4”, a world map is put together on the hospital bed using syringes, scalpels, and used sheets.
In 2004, Leng made his first female portrait named "Mona Lisa - the design of smile." This work intends to give new meaning to Leonardo Da Vinci's famous painting "Mona Lisa."
"Portrait of the Face - Xiaowen" by Leng Jun. /CGTN Photo

"Portrait of the Face - Xiaowen" by Leng Jun. /CGTN Photo

"Looking back at the tradition in the eyes of our present generation... I chose the theme of Mona Lisa because the painting is so famous. I used my cutting-edge artistic language to paint a modern person, but the theme was from the past," Leng explained.
Later, the artist created a series of portraits which gained great popularity worldwide. His "Portrait of the Face - Xiaowen" grabbed 60 million yuan at auction in 2015.
The artist believes that what makes a painting successful is the emotional expression which is based on all these fundamental things.
"Portrait of the Face - Xiaojiang" by Leng Jun. /CGTN Photo

"Portrait of the Face - Xiaojiang" by Leng Jun. /CGTN Photo

In Leng's eyes, even though oil painting was introduced by the West, China's profound culture has provided the art form with something more. He believes that Chinese artists accepted oil painting very quickly because they shared similar attitudes and understandings of life - allowing them to truly express what they saw and experienced in their lives.
"Chinese oil painting has its own patterns and its own style... because China is ancient and prominent, with thousands of years of cultural heritage. In the field of painting, we absorb from the West and accept Western skills very fast. We can quickly assimilate it into our own culture and form our own styles," said he.
Leng Jun grew up with traditional Chinese culture. Even though he paints oil painting, and employs the seemingly Western art form, he expresses himself as the inheritance of Chinese culture. Behind the accurate and lifelike depictions, lies his faith and ideals.
(Head Image: Leng Jun is painting. /CGTN Photo)