‘My artworks communicate with my life. They are answers or antidotes.’
Born 1982, Lanzhou City, Sichuan Province. Currently lives and works in Macau.
The work of multi-media artist Peng Yun expresses deeply felt personal responses to her own experiences. In performance and video work she explores ideas about relationships, sexuality, gender and, she says, ‘how females live in the world’. Peng Yun studied with Zhang Peili (acknowledged as the pioneer of Chinese video art) at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, but previously she had majored in oil painting at the Sichuan Art Academy; her performances and videos often have a lush, painterly quality that recall European Old Master paintings. Like others of her generation of young Chinese artists, Peng does not wish to be limited by prescribed identities of gender or nationality, but rather see themselves as global art practitioners.
At first sight, the opening frames of Miss Melissa and Mr Fish at 2.31pm suggest a still life painting – perhaps a 17th century Vanitas. Lilies, which signify both sexuality and mortality, and the white feminine hand resting on the silvery, glistening scales of a dead trout are a memento mori, a reminder of mortality and the ephemeral nature of earthly pleasures of the flesh. Soon, however, the video becomes both erotic and disturbing. It transitions quickly into memorably violent imagery as the woman’s hand, with its red-painted nails, delves deeply into the mouth of the fish. It has been suggested that the shift from first tentative caresses to vigorous, violent movements that penetrate and then rupture the body of the fish, relates to an exploration of developing female sexual empowerment.