Delving into the “pre-installation” condition of art, Shen Shaomin presents his latest paintings—referred to as The MoMA Series—in this exhibition. Rendering the paintings as if they were wrapped in protective plastic packaging, ready to be shipped, Shen Shaomin further expands the trompe l'oeil, reproducing iconic paintings from influential artistic movements such as Cubism, Surrealism, and Abstract Impressionism. As indicated by the title, paintings from this series are drawn from MoMA’s extensive collection. “Removing” the paintings from the renowned collection, Shen Shaomin then “repacks” and transfers them into the physical space and the context of a gallery, highlighting the economic circulation of art. Copying the famous paintings in art history acquired by major museums, the artist issues an institutional critique where he challenges the preservation of the classics, as well as the promotion by institutions of “celebrity” art works.
This reflective thinking is also expressed through Faded Classic-Left Over Fish, the artist’s brand new series that debuts at the gallery. Shen Shaomin reproduces the paintings such as Still Life with Cat and Fish (1728) , Still Life with Fish, Candle, Artichokes, Crabs and Shrimp (1611), and Still Life with Fish, Oysters and Cat (first half of the 17th century). Intentionally excluding the fish depicted in the original paintings, Shen Shaomin then juxtaposes their absence with mechanical fish in motion underneath the paintings. Employing fish as a metaphor, which have been a widespread subject by painters since the Renaissance, Shen Shaomin does not merely subvert the classic, but also reminds us that we must depart from the present in order to transcend the past and the classic.