“To me, women depict peace of mind, natural beauty, and variance of emotions.”
Karl was born as Bong Ka in Shanghai in 1935. He was formally trained by the master artists of Chinese painting and he also formally trained in the European painting tradition in France and Belgium. These multiple styles led to Karl Bang’s multi-cultural blending of the traditional Chinese artistic discipline with the more personally expressive European style, and later also included traditions from around the entire globe. This cross-cultural fusion of styles has earned him the title of “Master of Contemporary Eclecticism”. His art is currently represented by Richardson Gallery of Fine Art, and the exclusive originating source of all prints and original paintings by Karl Bang is Chantelle Publishing Company.
Karl Bang’s paintings are unique because he combines totally different styles of painting within the same format. It is very difficult to design a balanced composition with realistic elements that are juxtaposed with flat colors and patterns. The faces of his subjects are painted realistically in the Western tradition with subtle gradations of color; while, his figures and costumes vignette into abstracted shapes, lines, flat colors and patterns that reflect Karl’s background in China.
It is as though there are different visual languages being spoken within his paintings.
In many ways Karl is breaking the traditional rules in painting by using pure black and metallic, and by mixing diverse styles. However, this adds a great deal of mystery and intrigue to his work. Karl also breaks another rule by having his women look directly at the viewer as if they are flirting with the audience. It is very bold and engaging to the beholder. Although Karl’s paintings are often colorful and flamboyant, he still maintains a quality of quiet subtle beauty in the facial expressions of the women. Interestingly many of the women that he paints are portrayed as being strong and independent, not just pretty.
Because women were oppressed in the Chinese culture, Karl was not allowed to paint women in such an idealized manner. Karl has been in publishing for over 30 years and has received international acclaim. When Karl lived in China he was commissioned to paint communist propaganda often glorifying the peasant life.
One of the projects that Karl painted when he was twenty was a huge mural of Mao, like those often seen in news and film clips.