WHATEVER-Young Chinese Artists show

14 Oct 2008 – 15 Nov 2008

I-MYU Projects

London, United Kingdom


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Will the Asian art market, especially the Chinese contemporary art market continue to flourish in the next few years? People in the art world are starting to doubt it. For now we will forget the market and those big names. We will instead take a visit to young emerging artists and consider what they are doing to meet this uncertain period? Anyway, whatever they do it is different. These artists are concerned less with the significance of technique and consequences of representation. They have moved away from the political imagery of China's revolutionary and post-revolutionary past. Their works have no direct or indirect relationship to the forms of collective political and social action readily recognized by western audiences as being of ‘China'. These artists have attempted to free their creative intuition from that established through western or Chinese theories and concepts, while still admiring and emphasising the foundation of aesthetics. They are influenced heavily by new digital technologies but still retain links to the wisdom of the past. Their works relate to the everyday, presenting the reflection of the past and the anticipation of the future. The artists in the exhibition are: Gao Ping, Luo Minwen and Gao Lei, Hou Yong. As a painter, Gao Ping is influenced by her professor Yuan Yunsheng in the Central Academy of Fine Arts. Yuan Yunsheng is one of the pioneering Chinese artists who went to USA and Europe to explore their life and art in the middle of last century, then came back with international fame as Chen Danqing and Xu Bin. The classic style of Yuan Yunsheng integrates the brushwork of Chinese cursive handwriting and the glory of Dunhuang fresco in large-scale oil paintings. Gao Ping inherits the mantle of her teacher and forms her own language. After her graduation she continued her study of Chinese brush painting for many years. Through this she has developed a new style to use Chinese ink and brush to represent the scenes and details in the daily life. She has developed a kind of quiet narration, hiding her, a woman's sensibility for surroundings, under this quietness. Her paintings never tell much, they are simple and tiny pieces of modern life in a freehand style, fresh and concise, omitting the background entirely and without fuss. She also transfers this style into oil paintings that are small in scale and always arranged together across whole walls. Just as Gao Ping's work also describes daily life so Luo Minwen's drawings reflect another aspect of experience. When she graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, she decided to study abroad. The works chosen for this exhibition were made in Paris during the first period of her study. The drawings express a repercussion to her experience of being in a foreign city. She adopted pencil as the medium through which to illustrate and depict a personal psychological environment, in this world there is only herself, she plays alone, stays alone, feels happy and sad alone. This recurring figure is simple but awkward, nervous but curious, helpless but still hopeful. Both Hou Yong's Water paintings and Gao Lei's video discuss circulation and balance, these are the basic spirits in Chinese classic philosophy, in both cases there is the sense they might be disrupted by something. When he was a student at the Academy, Hou Yong struggled with the traditional academic training system. He wanted to remove colour and the figurative images of human characters from his oil paintings. During the last three years Hou Yong has concentrated entirely on painting his Water series. At the beginning he painted water without color, and with vague images of people. In the later period of these paintings the images of people disappeared but the colors have returned, merged as layers under the painted layers of water. What types of colour are visible is indiscernible, but importantly the quality of balance of water is broken. Gao Lei is a diverse artist. He is a painter and a sculptor, he also makes photographs, animation, video and installation arts. In this exhibition he shows a small group of laser photos, an installation made of stainless steel and a video. The video is titled 爻"(Yao), one of a series of works. Yao is from I Ching, the ancient Chinese classic text that uses an explanation of a horizontal line to construct the significance of each horizontal line in each hexagram. Its philosophy heavily influenced Chinese literature and government administration. In this work, played repeatedly, the smoke forms a repeated cycle through four connected industry smokestacks mounted on a pale background. The whole form responds to, or interacts with the meaning of Yao, it appears equal and balanced, but in actuality it is far from calm.


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