The paintings of Chinese artist Naijun Zhang are on display through Sept. 29 at the Penn State New Kensington Art Gallery.
Zhang, assistant professor of painting at West Virginia University, is a veteran of one-man shows and group exhibitions throughout the United States and China. His works have been displayed at OK Harris Works of Art in New York, Michael Berger Gallery in Pittsburgh, Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts in Tallahassee, and the Shanghai Exhibition Center and Jiangsu Provincial Museum of Art in China.
"Naijun is an extraordinary artist I have been trying to get in the gallery for some time," said Bud Gibbons, professor of visual arts at the New Kensington campus and director of the art gallery." His catalog is excellent."
Working with oil on linen or canvas, Zhang paints ordinary people going about their daily activities. His style is socialist realism, which he learned at Nanjing Art Institute in China. The artists and professors he studied under during the Cultural Revolution were influenced by Russian Academic Realists, who introduced the method to China. Socialist realism portrays works of social concern, such as the poor.
"My experience growing up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution is visually expressed in these paintings," said Zhang, who joined the WVU faculty in 1999. "They not only produce a multifaceted portrait of China with contradictions but also show a respect for this mythical world of my formative years. My aim in these paintings is to examine tradition of Socialist Realist painting and cultural forces of Cultural Revolution and bring perspective on people who may see the world only from one viewpoint."
An artist's reception is set for 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, in the gallery, and coincides with the closing of the show. The exhibit and the reception are free to the public. The Art Gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. weekends.
For samples of his works, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/43950.htm online.