What are young Chinese artists doing in New York? This is an interesting question.
The artists, with background like this, are likely to be expected to conform to a specific, predictable worldview, focused on several Chinese styles, as spokespersons for a singular cultural or social identity. But the young generation are defying this expectation. They ignore labels, they tell their own stories, they make their own gestures. They resist being defined as “Chinese” artists; they are just “artists.” In this way, their work rejects being considered as a unified group; it defies a single categorization, which makes it hard to name this group show.
It is still provocative to put them together– this exhibition is a survey of six young artists who were born in mainland China and came to New York. Their work reflects an awareness of a broad range of artistic focuses. Their work cannot be confined to a certain national identity – it seems to come from somewhere else.
The work of Chang Yuchen (b. 1989, Shanxi Province) Snake is a group of 12 etchings on mulberry paper. In 2012, Chang started to experiment the theme of snake with different materials and formats. In her work, the image of the snake is a carrier of nuanced textures of different surfaces. As the artist argues, the image of the snake is culturally transparent, because “the knowledge to which the snake seduces, that of good and evil, is nameless” (Walter Benjamin, On Language as Such and on the Language of Man, 1916). She uses the snake to suggest the passage of life, “as the skin of the snake that keeps a record of time and movement, in which the damaging only enrich the pattern.”**
Two new paintings from Han Bing (b.1986, Shandong Province) are a continuation of her consistent exploration – “the difference between natural and man-made landscapes, real and artificial space, framed reality and daily life.” She extracts stylistic elements from ready-made images of interior spaces, buildings and natural landscapes, integrating them onto the canvas. She mixes these elements on canvas and create a surrealistic space with geometric scenes, which are even slightly frayed. In her paintings, figures seem to be physically absent, but can be perceived everywhere. The illusion generated by these theatrical images is the key to understanding her practice.**
Multimedia artists Liu Chang & Miao Jing’s (b.1987, Beijing; b.1985, Chongqing) work Manufactured Landscape-Dreamland is a digital video based on the concept of sound visualization. The work is comprised of five chapters, “Dust,” “Water,” “Mountain,” “Fog,” “Dust”, respectively. The artists try to create a dual experience by combining audio and visual, inspiring sensory experiences and create immersible atmosphere for audiences. People go through this video piece via a circle, which looks like a window that is full of personal exploration, surreal imagination, and actual reflections of landscapes. The work is also a transformation of natural and timeless landscapes, which are represented as particles, dots and lines that employ a digital language and rational algorithms. They transform these temporary encounters into permanent flashbacks.*
Building on the project Average Sweethearts: Dueling Scar & Driving Accident (2014), Yi Xin Tong (b.1988, Jiangxi Province) supplements a few pieces of “land markers” and poem anthology to reconstruct a new work Julia (Field of Honor). In his opinion, the semantic contradiction between the words “average” and “sweet heart” gestures to a romanticism that is essentially absurd; dueling for the restoration of honor is an example. The absurdity and irrationality render the romanticism “hopelessly romantic.” In this piece, fishing rods, band saw blades, chemical instruments, and other banal but curious objects quietly narrate an unworldly tale named Julia.*
Based on a strong interest in blurring the boundary between photography and painting, photographer Zhe Zhu (b.1993, Guangdong Province) started Vanitas project in 2013, to challenge the practice of its namesake, the traditional Dutch still life painting school. Zhe Zhu shoots daily objects in the studio with powerful strobes. After he achieves the same visual effects of traditional oil paintings, the artist raises a new question: If the strength of photography is not only high resolution, but also the color variation and the demonstration of depth, should we be satisfied with the fact that the final photo looks like an oil painting? The artist experiments with a variety of optical illusions through his work. For instance, in Chop (2014), scattered objects in a three-dimensional space are transferred into a two-dimensional image. The geometrical shapes of t¬he objects correspond to each other and form a stable triangle composition.**
With an architecture background, Pan Ge (b.1986, Sichuan Province) brings the art experiment into wide public space though a collection of works Sky Project. Sky is not only the specific site, but also the spiritual source of these works. It connects with a simple and honest “public spirit”– throughout the ages, the sky is the exhibition hall with the biggest audience. The temporality of the work, instability of the experiment, and the perishment of the object, show the artist’s understanding of art – an instant shine. The presented work Sky Project No.1 / A Cloud on Manhattan is the documentation of the first piece in this collection. Above the Manhattan skyline, the artist floated a cloud which was constituted by mylar balloons, providing the audience a new visual experience and esthesia of the underlying, huge man-made landscape.
* The content of these paragraphs is based on Liu Chang & Miao Jing and Yi Xin Tong’s artist statements.
** The content of these paragraphs is based on Chang Yunchen, Han Bing and Zhu Zhe’s artist statements, and text by Echo He.
About the Artists
Chang Yuchen (b.1989, Jincheng, Shanxi Province, China) graduated from Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (BFA) in 2011 and School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA) in 2013. She currently lives and works in New York. Chang Yuchen works with a wide range of media: photography, video, print, artist book, performance and among others. Her recent shows include Chang Yuchen: Snake and Others at Fou Gallery, New York (2014), Boston Printmakers 2013 North American Print Biennial, at Boston University College of Fine Arts, Superstition 13 at San Francisco Center for Books, Gwangju Biennale 2011 at Gwangju Kunsthalle, Martell Focus on Talents Finalists Exhibition (2011) at Today Art Museum and A Decade Long Exposure: Central Academy of Fine Arts and Contemporary Chinese Photography (2010). Her work is included in the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, Chicago. changyuchen.com
Han Bing (b.1986, Weifang, Shandong Province, China) graduated from Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (B.F.A.) in 2008 and Parsons the New School for Design, New York (M.F.A.) in 2013. Han Bing has received prestigious awards such as the Research of Contemporary Oil Painting Award from the National Art Museum of China in 2008 and Outstanding Creation Award of Central Academy of Fine Arts Graduation Project in 2011. In 2012, her work was featured in Harper’s Magazine. Her recent shows include Han Bing and Luka Rayski: Frame at Fou Gallery, New York (2014); Solo Exhibition of HAN Bing at Antenna Space, Shanghai (2013), Homeward Found: Wassaic Project Summer Exhibition at Wassaic (2013), The Intelligence of Things: Parsons Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition at The Kitchen, New York (2013). www.binghanart.com
Liu Chang & Miao Jing (b.1987, Beijing, China; b.1985, Chongqinq, China), Liu Chang studied in the MFA program (Interactive Arts) in Pratt Institute, and is a candidate of Master’s degree in the New York University (Interactive Telecommunications Program). Miao Jing is a painter and visual artist. They are based in New York and Beijing. Liu Chang and Miao Jing constantly collaborate on their multimedia work. Their work have been shown in many museums, art spaces and galleries, includeing The National Museum of China, CMoDA (Digital Art Museum of China), Power Station of Contemporary Art Museum in Shanghai. Their recent shows include NighTime-Dreamreal, The First International Contemporary Design Exhibition, Shanghai (2013), AV@ARNew Media Art Exhibition, Beijing (2013), The First Beijing International Design Triennial, Beijing (2011). www.mediacomposition.cc
Yi Xin Tong (b.1988, Lushan, Jiangxi Province, China) received his MFA from New York University (2014) and BFA from Simon Fraser University (2012). Tong is a visual artist, musician, and poet working with moving and still images, three-dimensional objects, text, Internet, and sound. Cultural and natural landscape, fiction, visual art as writing, resistance, and the dialectics of poetry and naïveté are subjects he is studying. His work has been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Embassy of Canada in Berlin, 80 WSE Gallery, VIVO Media Arts Centre, The Alchemical Theatre Laboratory, and Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre. He received Joan Mitchell Foundation Scholarship, Takao Tanabe Award in Visual Arts, British Columbia Arts Council Scholarship, and Orange Corporation Annual Award in Visual Arts. He was the British Columbia winner of BMO 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition in 2012. www.tongyixin.com
Zhe Zhu (b.1993, Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China) is majored in Photography at School of Visual Arts, New York (B.F.A). His work has been featured on Wallpaper* Magazine. His recent shows include Kind of Blue at School of Visual Arts, New York (2013) and Earthlings at Neighborhood Church of Greenwich Village, New York (2012).www.zhezhu.net
Pan Ge (b.1986, Pengzhou, Sichuan Province, China) received her Bachelor’s degree of Architecture Design from Shanghai Jiaotong University in 2010, and is a candidate of Master’s degree of Fine Arts at Pratt Institute, New York. Pan Ge works with a wide range of media: public installation, indoor installation, architecture space, and photography. Recently, she received the 2014 Public Art Award from Pratt Institute. Her recent shows include Drift Work curated by Paul Laster at Loft 594, Brooklyn (2013), Pratt MFA 2014 Summer Invitational Exhibition at Schafler Gallery, Brooklyn (2014). Besides, she writes for The New York Times China continuously. www.pange.info.
About the exhibition
Opening: 5pm-8pm, 21st June 2014
Duration: 21st June, 2014 – 5th July, 2014
Location: DeKalb Gallery, Pratt Institute, 200 Willoughby Avenue, Brooklyn, NY11205
Gallery Hours: 1pm-5pm, Tue-Sun
Artist: Chang Yuchen, Han Bing, Liu Chang & Miao Jing, Pan Ge, Yi Xin Tong, Zhe Zhu
Curated by / Press Contact: Pan Ge (347.609.2848; email@example.com)
Traffic: Clinton-Washington Ave station of G, A train (G train is closer than A train)
This is exhibition is supported by the Fine Arts Department of Pratt Institute and Fou Gallery.
Courtesy of the artists and Fou Gallery, for further information please visit fougallery.com.