Tang Hui: One World One Dream


Ethan Cohen Gallery is pleased to present Tang Hui | One World One Dream, an online solo exhibition of drawings and preliminary sketches Tang Hui has created between 2007 and the present. These refined drawings allow for an entryway into the inner workings of Tang Hui’s intellectual and creative process.


Growing up during the Cultural Revolution, coming from a family of artists, Tang Hui has a history unique among many other contemporary Chinese artists of his generation. When the eyes of other future art stars were seeing almost nothing but the government approved iconography and styles of the Revolution, Tang Hui found his early inspiration in a cherished volume of books left by his grandfather, “The Complete Collection of Modern Art”. Although labeled as “off-limits”, Tang Hui soaked up the wide variety of styles, subjects, aesthetics, and techniques. For many other artists of his generation, it wasn’t until years later that they were able to draw heavily on these influences. Throughout the years, Tang Hui, always a consummate craftsman, directed his energies towards refining and exploring his skills and techniques. In the turbulent times of political unrest and growing feelings of disenfranchisement of the young artists, rather than lash out at the establishment with shock performance and social disruption, Tang Hui reacted by creating whole inner worlds of neo-technical surrealism into which he invites the viewer.


With obvious stylistic references to the monumental socialist murals and statues of his youth, Tang Hui is certainly drawing on his years spent as a mural and state painter, as well as his upbringing in a household with grandparents and parents who are famous muralists. Tang Hui takes a refreshingly optimistic view of Socialist Realism in his present-day artistic practice and applies it to today’s society, showing a hopeful and positive view of China. By creating contemporary icons that reflect global trends and placing them into Chinese Socialist Realist settings, Tang Hui creates an artistic practice that is unique, captivating, and global, while rooted in Chinese ideals. He acknowledges the often uncomfortable contrasts in China’s past ideologies and its current evolution into a more global and capitalist society. However, his figures seem accepting, or even rejoicing, in this present state of what Ethan Cohen has called the new “consumer socialism”.

TANG HUI    唐晖 1968 born in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China

Tang Hui currently serves as Professor, Dean of the Mural Painting Department, and the Deputy Dean of Plastic Arts at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing and Deputy Director of the Mural Art Committee of the Chinese Artists Association. Tang Hui attended the Hubei Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1987, and later furthered his studies at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing, where he currently teaches. In 1997, he was selected to participate in the International Young Artist Visit and Residence Program organized by the Japan International Exchange Foundation and the Ibaraki Prefecture Government. He received his Ph.D. degree in 2019. His works have been collected by numerous art institutions such as the National Art Museum of China, the CAFA Art Museum, the Hong Kong University Art Museum, the Ibaraki Prefecture Government, the Kennedy Center, and the Hongkun Art Museum. His published monographs include “Tang Hui 1991-2008”, “Majestic Melancholy”, “Deer Painted by Tang Hui 2014-2016”. He has worked on murals throughout China, in Taiwan, and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and has also created artwork for the Chinese currency.

Tang Hui’s work simultaneously possesses the illogicalities of surrealism and the grandeur of romanticism. He places figures within a futuristic context and pierces into a fixed time and space, thus creating a visual junction between history and the future.