Chinese artist Leng Jun is the master of hyperrealism as he creates portraits that are startlingly close to real life. The skilled painter is very accomplished, but some of his best-known works are detailed oil paintings of women where everything is a perfect rendition of reality – down to the last wisp of hair.
Leng was born in 1963 and grew up during a time of great economic reform within his country which was known as the Opening of China. This massive cultural shift, along with the Western influences that it brought, found their way into his art and served as massive influences in his work.
Leng first became interested in painting at a very young age. His first experiments with oil painting happened when he was in middle school. While there weren’t readily available oil paints in China at the time, his friend was the one who gave him a couple of colors to play around with.
It was these earliest experiments that stayed with him. As he furthered his studies, the steady flow of information and influence that was coming into China from the West, was what helped to shape and mold him as an artist.
“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,” Leng said.
He added, “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.”
Leng was already a well-respected artist in the community prior to his 2004 oil painting entitled, “Mona Lisa” going viral. This work is a photorealistic portrait of a woman. Leng was inspired to base it off the principals of Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic painting but depicted a modern-day woman instead. This portrait was followed up with a series of photorealistic portraits of women, each one more detailed than the last. One can grow a great appreciation for the brushstrokes that bring the portrait to life as they are so intricate and detailed.
Like all great art, it is not without some criticisms. There are those who still maintain that the works look too much like photographs. Leng maintains that the paintings won’t deceive anyone who manages to see them in person. It is also not his intent to compete with photography or imitates it, but instead, he is pushed to take his artistry to its absolute limit. By balancing the technical skill with the raw emotion of his work, Leng has been able to touch people around the world with his art.
Leng said to CGNT, “I want to push my painting skills to a higher level. What is the most difficult thing? To paint people. For example, still life or rusted metals, they’re not something we see every day. People deal with people the most and people are most familiar with people. To portray people and make others believe is the hardest thing.”
Such great skill.
You can see the detail up close.
And his “Mona Lisa” is just incredible.
Check out his video below:
What do you think of Leng Jun?