Fou Gallery presents a two-person exhibition Between Mountains by Renqian Yang and Lan Zhaoxing from January 19th to March 17th, 2019. Lan’s paintings seek for a balanced sense of order in the landscape with rhythmic musicality. Yang presents ceramic works created at the Craigardan Residency in the Adirondack Mountains in 2018. In her new work she experiments with porcelain paper clay, continue creating organic sculptures and returns to the inner strength and spirit.
Images of mountains have remained a potent source of inspiration for artists and writers, often with contradictory meanings. Wang Yuanqi’s Wangchuang Villa conveys the shared cultural ideals of a reclusive world in a turbulent political environment through the symbolic villa between the mountains. In Turner’s Snowstorm: Hannibal and His Army Crossed the Alps, the mountains brought war and death. Generations of Macondo have tried to climb over the mountains and open up new territory, while Chinese artists from Ming Dynasty devoted themselves to self-cultivation through reinterpreting the landscape styles of Yuan scholar-painters. The mountains evoke a feeling of tranquility, but also can be seen as a battleground for the military. The eternal theme of mountains leads into the distance while returning to one’s internal mind. Coincidentally, the theme of mountains become an inspiration for both Lan Zhaoxing and Renqian Yang.
Lan Zhaoxing attempts to use the language of painting to express the philosophical realms of spirituality. In her work she chooses the elements from the two mutable worlds of nature and self, and gives them color and form, trying to make an emotional response and intellectual thinking logically consistent. Lan grew up in the mountains and served in an institution isolated in the mountains during her 10-year service in the military. The mountains pinned her contradictory feelings about the homeland. Most of the paintings in the exhibition were created in Lishan, Shanxi, and Fujian Fuding. She linked between the real landscape and the art history references to extract a painting language between naturalism and abstraction, attempting to give clarity and balance to order, with both rhythmic musicality and architectural eternity.
Yang’s previous ceramic works are characterized by vibrant color, with a focus on urban and social issues. However, her residency in the Adirondack Mountains gives her a completely different sentiment. The Craigardan Residency provides a collaborative platform for artists. The farmhouse between the mountains of Adirondack brings together creators from different fields, including artists, writers, and chefs. Living in a mountain that is completely away from busy city life, Yang began to explore a new rhythm of creation, returning to the material itself. She added paper pulp to the liquid clay then drying the clay; this process improved plasticity of the clay. In the new body of works, she returns to simply colors, adding only a small amount of black, red, cobalt, yellow ocher, etc. She also explores the limit of materials. Light, clay, water, the spirit of the mountains, as well as the traces of hands fully reflected in these sculptures. The pieces are so thin and fragile, almost transparent, as if light will pass through.
Yang is interested in the concept of binaries. Her work addresses the unity and the contradiction of dichotomies: restriction and freedom; pessimism and optimism; complexity and simplicity. The peaceful atmosphere in the mountain allows her to look into connection between the internal and external worlds. With the minimal palette and style, Ren looks for the balance between inner and outer, dynamic and static, light and heavy, strong and pale.
About the exhibition
Dates: January 19–March 17, 2019
Venue: Fou Gallery
Hours: Saturday 11am–6pm, or by appointment (firstname.lastname@example.org)