í░Life is a heap of mixed material of unclear quality.í▒ This assertion by Duan Jianyu points to the philosophical nature of her art. Purposely avoiding the painterly sublime, she strives for the most generic subject matter and she delves into banal expression and style. The chickens, which appear in many of her photographs, multi-media installations and paintings are a metaphor for this interest in the ordinary. Yet hers is not a naive or even narrative description of everyday life. Instead, she uses a highly refined method of displacement, that propells the work into a realm where we start thinking of art as a language and painting as a medium. Her displacements include combining the wrong elements on a canvas, or mixing up poetry and poetics in her writing, or travelling to Qinghai Province on an extended stay, when instead she might have come to a thriving city center, the market place for art. Once, she claimed to have discovered an abandoned painting by Julian Schnabel in a Chinese chicken coop.
í░Many minor things in our lives seem to be trivial and simple, but they contain a great many scientific knowledge and skills,í▒ writes the artist. The Jury of the CCAA 2010 is impressed by the level of sophistication Duan Jianyu shows in keeping the categories of aesthetic judgement in suspense. Duan Jianyu is highly educated about the traditions of art history and the trends of contemporary art, and she uses this knowledge in a self-reflexive way, but her work never becomes academic or didactic. Her sincerity about the fundamental role of art in life is matched by her ambitious scope: To use art as a medium to tell basic truths about conditions of contemporaneity. Both in the context of Chinese painting and in comparison to international art production, her quirky poetic works have managed to surprise and elate us. We are happy to announce that we voted her í░Best Artistí▒ in the CCAA 2010.