Wang Xingwei, Ji Gong, oil on canvas, 240×200cm, 2015

Both Wang Xingwei’s Ji Gong and Duan Jianyu’s The Muse has Awoken No.3 both offer conspicuous comical impressions, which on the one hand, articulate a kind of literary comedy from the narrations of the figures on canvas, their expressions, motion, theatricality and etc., while stylistically – be it Wang Xingwei’s compositional momentum and the exaggeration rendered through brushwork, or Duan Jianyu’s kitsch and crass emphasis – give shape to the comedy of mannerism, providing theatricality for the language of painting. Thirdly, they are comical on a cultural history level as they have adopted the Baroque style to portray the Mad Monk and placed the Goddess on Dunhuang murals into modern countryside context, this kind of casual yet poignant fusion has taken the “La Comédie Humaine” approach to respond to the rapidly evolving Chinese society and the unsettled dust of cultural order.

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Chen Dandizi, Conversion of Feelings, horseshoes, nails, metallic paint, giclee 101 horseshoes in 10-15 diameter, photo 100cm x 72cm, 2020

I scatter the nailed horseshoes along routes people must encounter in the space in order to discuss a concealed emotional boundary. Stepping on the tipping point of the nails triggers a sudden ache, by which I would like to refer to those strong yet vague pain gained from the interpersonal relationships.
Pain could be conceived as one of the challenges for people to undertake in the reality, and we all have different reactions towards it. No matter it is the immediate turning away from the extreme painfulness, or it is the gradual process that a horseshoes-like thick cuticle grows out and covers the physical body after a long distance walk, both are examples of an inner decision.

Geng Jianyi, Eternal Rays of The Sun, Oil on canvas, 195×133cm×5, 1992

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.

Xu Zhen Shouting, Video, Color, Sound, 4’00”, 1998

In Shouting, the artist films crowds as they move through busy public spaces. He then lets out a scream and laughs, gauging people’s reactions as they turn in surprise or ignore his provocation. For the artist, the scream is a way of asserting his individuality in a society that prioritizes community and conformity.

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