Yang Zhenzhong, Fish Bowl
Eternal Rays of the Sun series were works Geng Jianyi has prepared specifically for the 1993 Venice Biennale. The work may seem to embody the “political pop” style, when in fact the artist’s emphasis was not to highlight the red, bright and glorious background of the Cultural Revolution and its representation of the farmers, worker, and soldiers class. Instead, it concealed a visual game where the center of each painting consists of the shifting foci of the group photograph on the backside of the 5 yuan bill. As if these paintings are five fixed frames of an animation, the radiant background could thus be taken out of the political myth and be restored to its initial impetus in visual design. In this sense, this work was meant to disenchant, rather than creating a myth to demystify, it confronted the experiences of a time through an individual’s everyday sentiments, this was the ingenuity Geng Jianyi has preserved throughout his lifetime.
Venus at the Outlets Mall was Qiu Xiaofei’s critical attempt to look at painting through the perspective of an object. The sculpture in his work is the one found in the outlets mall close to his studio, but the disproportional ratio in the night setting has made the sculptural replica into a referential point, what Qiu Xiaofei was more interested in commanding was the object in the painting, painting as the object, and the possible relationships between the object and the painting. In addition, he adjusted the sentimental qualities in these relationships on the pictorial, color and material levels. Eventually, the painting and the image, color and lighting, site and material became mutually interrupting yet congruent factors to the overall composition. This phase marked Qiu Xiaofei’s transition from “image” to “painting” when the physical quality of the painting is recognized and represented, could painting truly confronts today’s experience as a conventional vehicle, and Qiu Xiaofei’s recent works experiment on a different level as he preserves this medium. Qiu Xiaofei’s transition from being “academic” to “pictorial”, to “installation” and lastly returning to “painting”, seems to follow a logic against the artistic form, but one that embodies a true understanding of precedent and subsequent painting practices in contemporary Chinese art.
Ma Qiusha’s From No.4 Pingyuanli to No.4 Tianqiaobeili and Tao Hui’s The Dusk of Teheran are both performances captured by a single camera lens, and both of which have strung together the stories of a lifetime through a single-channel video. Among the younger generation of contemporary Chinese artists, video art has become the mainstream, but those who have adopted this medium to manifest their personal perspectives are still few. “Art for the sake of life” is another classic expression for this kind of personal expression, not only is it part of the modern Chinese art, but also a core component in ancient art and literature, that the concerns of life of an individual as an “analogy” for society and history, this is how new artistic medium or genre grow their roots in existing Chinese experiences.
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