This is the 2nd solo exhibition by Bai Yiluo at Pékin Fine Arts, following his 1st solo exhibit in October 2009. The latest series of new works on view include “Song of Systems” (2011-2012) and “Illumination” (2011-2012).
The systems in “Song of Systems” do not refer to any specific one. Everyone lives in different systems and feels pressure every single day. However, like darkness, systems are complicated and unable to be described in detail, and massive information is hidden and wrapped which can only be felt and sensed by us.
These circular “Song of Systems” paintings draw their inspiration from the patterns carved and painted on to old wooden chairs comprising the artist’s earlier installation piece “Victory of the Chiefs” (2009) (exhibited in Bai’s last solo exhibit at the gallery). In making this earlier work of carved and remade chairs, Bai adapted the chairs’ natural wood grain patterns to the richly detailed patterns of African textiles via painting directly on the chairs. At first, Bai hand-painted each chair, but this soon became too much for one pair of hands, and the result in the artist’s view was inefficient and ineffective. To solve these technical problems of production, Bai designed his own ruler, a plastic clear and flexible one, aimed at rendering seemingly endless rows of miniaturized drawn circles, squares and triangles, in the manner of mechanized uniformity and mass-produced outputs, despite still being composed solely by hand-work. Bai’s hand-painted installation of readymade(Duchamp) chairs stands as a tongue-in-cheek memorial, monumentalizing the national manufacturing zeal that fuels China’s large volumes of exports to Africa and other third world destinations.
In the circular painting series “Song of Systems”, viewers may imagine they see an eye at the centre of each bull’s eye-like painting. This phenomenon came as a surprise to the artist and was not originally intended. This optical illusion effect is the result of looking directly into seemingly endless hand-painted rings completely filling the surface of each circular painting. If Bai’s paintings were of a more classical square or rectangular format, the more conventional forms would no longer have this effect on the viewers’ eye. The “eye” at the centre of each canvas is a happy coincidence, a surprising by-product of Bai’s artistic output. The densely patterned circular paintings possess this strong, almost hypnotic and hallucinatory visual impact, which is difficult to approximate in written text: Better to experience it for oneself.
It took the artist two years to complete his “Illumination” series of paintings. The artist strives to express the feeling of being observed from afar, a feeling that characterizes today’s high tech world of global surveillance. Ever-evolving new forms of technology allow us to view our physical being and the area we inhabit from the vantage point of millions of miles of distance from outer space, seemingly from the same perspective and vantage point of God. All daily activities, feelings, destinies and struggles etc. of human beings can be concentrated down to a single spotlight, created by a vast microscope of interconnected high technology devices, one image following another, in rapid-fire succession, in an endless stream of images produced with seemingly unlimited technology and surveillance resources. As we live our lives under such spotlights, how should we reflect on our destiny? Shouldn’t we too start observing ourselves from new and different perspectives?
Bai Yiluo (b. 1968 Luoyang, Henan Province) is a self-taught artist, now working and living in Beijing. Bai adds, “I don’t like giving too much explanation for my works and I hope viewers can feel free to understand them by themselves”.
Courtesy of Bai Yiluo and Pékin Fine Arts, for further information please visit Pékin Fine Arts.