On September 18, 2015, Xu Lei’s solo exhibition “Fugue” opened in Suzhou Museum. The exhibition was planned by curator Tang Keyang, the theme borrows the concept of baroque polyphony music “fugue” which corresponds with the “sentimental or descriptive composition” and “to study the nature of things” in Chinese cultural tradition, to continuously reveal the characteristics of interesting artistic styles that represent the artist’s pursuit of the adventure between the traditional and the modern, and specifically confirmed the multidimensional variables of the artistic knowledge of Xu Lei. Xu Lei is an important pioneer of “new ink painting” in Chinese contemporary art, an artist wandering between the ancient and the modern, his works borrow the rhyme of the painting of the Song Dynasty, emphasizing the contemporary emotion and using modern conceptions, to reflect on traditional aesthetics, so that the viewers can experience and explore a winding path leading to a secluded placeof tranquility.
Xu Lei was born in Nantong, Jiangsu Province, so it is a solo exhibition held in his hometown for the artist, Deputy Director of Suzhou Museum Wei Baoxin addressed the opening ceremony and spoke highly of the cooperation with Xu Lei, while Xu also attached great importance to the exhibition, and he hoped the works have an aesthetic dialogue with Leoh Ming Pei, who designed the new museum of Suzhou Museum, which also borrowed the modern Western context to reshape the sentiment of an Eastern town of water which made the ancient idea of the doctrine of Mean become integrated into the modern architectural space, to pursue the connection between time and space. Although there are different approaches, Xu Lei has a similar result in his pursuit of painting. Through the study of the print schema of the Ming Dynasty, he largely uses a 45-degree angle as the mode for his composition, while this classic traditional visual experience happens to coincide with the architectural language of Leoh Ming Pei.
The exhibition is on show at the modern art exhibition hall in the Suzhou Museum, the first exhibition hall mainly features the paintings “Floating Jades”, “Tian Jing Sha”, “Snow Wave Stone”, and a work of installation entitled “Moving Mountains”, which were created by Xu Lei in recent years. Among these “Moving Mountains” was specially created by the artist who took the fake rocks in the Suzhou Museum as the prototype, using his rhetorical method of painting, to deduce the deep clear and beautiful landscapes of mountain and water, the reality and illusion reflect each other to create a wonderland. Therefore, we can see the three-dimensional scenery of the Suzhou Museum, casting beautiful reflections with Xu Lei’s graphical paintings that contemplate and reflect each other. The second exhibition features a group of printed paintings named “Superposed Images” perfectly using the polyphonic structure of “fugue” and Xu Lei took his work as “text”, to overprint different images, to present a dreamland like “The Garden with Crossover Routes”. The third exhibition mainly showcases a series of works themed on “horse”, the horse is depicted as quiet by the artist, instead of galloping and exulting, the majority of which stand behind the veil, classic screen, to realize the juxtaposition and combination of classical cultural images and modern visions, to form a fantastic visual world which reveals the calm thinking state of the artist from the color movement to formal performance.
The Blue-and-white chair of the Ming Dynasty, stones in the lake, screens, brocade curtains, map, dream rider, with these delicate things, there is a dramatic layout and unreal situation, Xu Lei builds a new novel Eastern classical artistic conception. In terms of the artistic temperament, Xu Lei’s personal gnosis is classified with the cultural inside information of the Regions South of the Yangtze River. When more than 20 works are returned to the atmosphere of Suzhou Gardens, it belongs to the resurrection of the remembrance of personal feelings, so that the viewers can enjoy themselves and imagine the real space.
The exhibition continues to December 13, opening to the public for 2 months. Around the compound theme of “time” and “space”, Xu Lei’s solo exhibition focuses on the symbiotic relationship of literature, music, architecture and painting, the corresponding academic issues discussed by the experts will cross borders.
Photo by Xu Lei, Yang Yanyuan/CAFA ART INFO
Text by Zhang Wenzhi, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO