Beauty at its prime is ephemeral. In the exhibition "In Younger Days", the beauty of youthfulness is represented by the symbolism of the flower. Given different art and cultural contexts, from Cao Xueqin’s Flower Burial to the tradition of still-life in European paintings, what the iconic flower implies for the transition from the glories of the life to its decay; the anxiety and lament at the relentlessness of transience as prosperity is destined for nihilism.
These three artists presented their respective versions of "a portrait of the flower". Liu Ye depicted the front, back covers and first page of Nabokov's classic novel Lolitaas a work of still-life on canvas, iterating the image of a young girl filled with amorous desires in a lasting monumentality. Within Book Paintings (triptych), the pictorial and textural symbolisms are intimately tied together, wandering between these two systems of representations, the visual and the literary. Hao Liang’sDissection Series (2010) divides an individual's metaphysical (spiritual) and physical (body) into two sets of images for which he adopts an objective and calm perspective in observing the impermanence of life. The flowers appear in chapter eight and fifteen resonate with the comparisons to such iconography in traditional Chinese poetry. Lilies (2012), consists of the 12 faux lilies artist Kwan Sheung Chi has collected, encapsulates the ideals of the "beautiful lilies" appealing to potential clients while projecting the spectacle of the social subconscious built repetitively by many laborers. The lightness and elegance of manufactured goods entail self-evident pain and suffering, which are both historical and present.
Each work in the exhibition "In Younger Days" is synonymous with the iconography of the "flower" – wandering between beauty and crises, denoted with an underlying contradiction, while these artists have perfectly balanced and stabilized these two contending states.
Liu studied mural painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts and industrial design at the School of Arts & Crafts, both in Beijing, before studying at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. His six years spent living and studying in Europe were formative. During that time he deepened his knowledge of Western art history and architecture, drawing inspiration from early Renaissance painters such as Jan van Eyck and Petrus Christus; as well as artists ranging from Johannes Vermeer to De Stijl architect Gerrit Rietveld; the modernist Paul Klee; and, perhaps most significantly, Piet Mondrian, whose pared-down, geometric compositions are recurring motifs in Liu’s oeuvre. Liu’s richly layered paintings are infused with an internal logic based on proportion and measure, harmony and balance.
Some of the artist’s most recent series depict closeup views of books. Intimately scaled, these paintings reference Liu’s appreciation of the book as an object, as well as his love of literature—his father was a children’s book author who introduced him to Western writers at a young age, fueling his curiosity and imagination. His paintings can be in turn playful, erotic and mysterious but all show a deep knowledge of the history of art, both Western and Eastern.
Liu Ye’s work was recently the subject of a solo exhibition at Prada Rong Zhai, Shanghai (November 2018 through January 2019). Other solo museum presentations include shows at Mondriaanhuis, Amersfoort, The Netherlands (2016) and Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland (2007). His work has also been featured in significant international group exhibitions, including Hello World: Revising a Collection, Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin (2018); The World in 2015, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2015); Focus Beijing: De Heus-Zomer Collection, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2014); Re-View: Opening Exhibition of Long Museum West Bund, Long Museum, Shanghai (2014); In Time, 2012 Chinese Oil Painting Biennale, National Art Museum of China, Beijing (2012); Future Pass: From Asia to the World, 54th Venice Biennale (2011; traveled to Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam; National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung; and Today Art Museum, Beijing); Chinamania, Arken Museum of Modern Art, Ishøj, Denmark (2009); and Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California, Berkeley (2008; traveled to Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts). In 2017, Liu’s work was included in the 57th Venice Biennale as part of Viva Arte Viva. Work by Liu is held in numerous public collections, including the Long Museum, Shanghai; M+ Sigg Collection, Hong Kong; the Shanghai Art Museum; Today Art Museum, Beijing; and the Yuz Museum, Shanghai.
Hao Liang ,born 1983 in Chengdu, China, currently works and lives in Beijing.
His painting practice originates from the traditional scholar's study method, and he is absorbed in studying ancient art, literature, painting theory, literature, western art, etc.trying to break the inherent cognition of Chinese cultural tradition and find the connection between ancient and modern.
His recent solo exhibitions includes: Hao Liang: Circular Pond，Aurora Museum，Shanghai，2019; Hao Liang: Portraits and Wonders, Gagosian , New York, 2018; Hao Liang: Eight Views of Xiaoxiang, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art,Beijing,2016; Hao Liang: The Virtuous Being, Mirrored Gardens, Guangzhou, 2016. His recent participation in group exhibitions includes: The Vitality of A New Partition :The 5th Chinese painting Biennial of Hangzhou, ZheJiang Art Museum, Hangzhou ,2018; Beating Around The Bush, Bonnefantenmuseum, the Netherlands, 2018; Collection of Centre Pompidou, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France，2017
Kwan Sheung-Chi (b. 1980, Hong Kong) tenaciously pursues across multiple mediums a conceptual practice rooted in criticism of political status quo, assignations of value and modes of existence. Employing simple props to articulate his reflections with pointed focus, Kwan unravels Hong Kong’s relationship with money, its political framework and the livelihood of those who inhabit it. Voiced from a position of observation, the viewer senses throughout a tension between meditation and intervention, a feeling that is heightened by a running sense of banality that pervades Kwan’s propositions. At the core of Kwan’s practice is the thematic of reality as seen and experienced by ordinary citizens. Strongly associated is the specific discussion of capitalism, which reappears as a topic of reflection in Kwan’s work.
Kwan Sheung-Chi has held exhibitions at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2017); ZKM, Karlsruhe (2015); Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul (2015); ParaSite, Hong Kong (2015, 2014); Witte de With, Rotterdam (2014); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2014); Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai (2013); Hiroshima MOCA, Hiroshima (2013); amongst others. In 2014, Kwan was awarded Jury Award ”Huayu Youth Award”, Art Sanya; in 2013, he was the winner of the inaugural Hugo Boss Art Prize. In 2009, Kwan was awarded the Starr Foundation Fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council to take part in an international residency programme in New York, USA.
Yang Zi received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religious studies from Nanjing University and is currently a independent curator. Yang Zi has worked in art criticism and curation for nearly ten years, starting with his participation in the YCCA project at UCCA in 2008, which introduced him to art criticism and writing. From 2012 to 2014, Yang Zi was an editor of LEAP, and he has written extensively for a range of publications, including LEAP, Artforum China, Art Bank, and Art Time, among others. 2015, after joining UCCA, He acted as executive editor on a series of UCCA catalogues, including Wang Yin: The Gift, Liu Wei: Colors, Xu Zhen: A MadeIn Company Production, and Zeng Fanzhi: Parcours. 2018, he was promoted to curator and the head of Public Programs in UCCA.His curatorial projects include “La Chair” (A+ Contemporary, Shanghai, 2016); “Secret Chamber” (am Art Space, Shanghai, 2016); “Pity Party” (sleepcenter, New York, 2018); “Land of the Lustrous” (UCCA Dune, Beidaihe, 2019); “Wu Wei: The Gigantic” (XC HuA Gallery, Berlin, 2019). 2017, He was a Hyundai Blue Prize finalist.