Microscope - The Inner Mindscape of 5 Contemporary Chinese Artists: Shanghai

31 May - 17 July 2015

Curator: Huang Du


I choose to use “Microscope” as the title of the exhibition as it reflects the current development of Chinese contemporary art. In the past decade, the growing diversity and fragmented development of Chinese contemporary art in many ways are similar to the general development in Chinese society and economy, where artists turned from the ideological narratives and collective expressions to being more individualistic in style, depicting personal experiences from daily life.   This newly evolved artistic language which focus on artistic quality and abstract expressions, as well as the depiction of daily narratives and expression of concepts through different medium, can be found is different art genres including painting, sculpture, installation, moving images and mixed media artworks.


This exhibition features works of 5 contemporary Chinese artists of different age and experience: Wen Wu, Ren Zhitian, Li Yiwen, Lin Ke and Hu Weiyi, each displaying their individual aesthetics preferences through diverse flexible works, expressing subtle and philosophical concepts through different mediums.


Wen Wu's work does not prescribe to any specific theory or doctrine. He is merely interested in challenging universal and societal ideas of how art is made and viewed.


Artist Ren Zhitian uses fuel ash residue collected from car exhaust pipes as ink, creating a series of patterned works on silk, reflecting his concerns for the ecological problems.   His interesting juxtaposition of beauty and waste,


elegance and filth, make this a unique series, showing how the artist pushes the boundaries of the revered traditional art. 


The work Electronic music always makes people dancing of Lin Ke is a new media work consisting of a ‘movement of images’ captured from internet and his computer operation system. In this work, Lin Ke wanted to explore new visual aesthetics through his daily work on his computer, where the artist himself is the dream door between the virtual world and the reality.


The artistic concert of Pulp Landscape II by Weiyi Hu developed from the Hu’s earlier work Pulp Landscape and the concept of live cinema.  It is a miniature interactive film installation in a suitcase, where the audience can control the movements of the cameras and the montage by a terminal control with several buttons.  The suitcase is a movable cinema with the movie controlled and directed by the audience.


I hope, this joint exhibition can be a tiny showcase of the current development of Chinese contemporary art scene, where the contemporary artworks reflect the new values of the changing society in China.





——An Insight to 5 Contemporary Chinese Artists


Curator: Huang Du


The reason for applying Microscope as the topic of the exhibition is that it inoculates with the present situation of Chinese contemporary art. In last over ten years, the progress of the Chinese contemporary art featured both diversity and fragmentation, like China social and economic development, that is, the grand ideological narration and collective unconscious presentation before gradually fade away, while the free, individual and personal micro narration regarding daily experience rises. In other words, the new concept is being constructed upon the collapse of the old discourse, highlighting the characteristics of evolution regarding the art language today, returning to the artistic noumenon, focusing on abstract expression, moving towards daily narration, taking on media extension, emphasizing concept expression and so forth. Such characteristics are epitomized by art type of every description---from painting and sculpture to installation, image then synthetic materials.


In the exhibition, the works of five artists inclusive of Wen Wu, Ren Zhitian, li Yiwen, Lin Ke and Hu Weiyi, with different ages, has showed their unique aesthetic tastes respectively, reflecting flexibility and diversity in terms of methodology, manifesting freedom and extension in the respect of media, and demonstrating delicacy and philosophy in the light of perception.


Wen Wu cut the thick layer of paint and transferred it onto another canvas, creating a Rorschach effect. The contrast between the artist’s hand and machine becomes apparent. One can see the relationship between calculation and accident, technology, and nature, imagination and reality.
Wen Wu also devotes himself to abstract painting, which allows him to study the relationship between pure colours and forms without the constraints of depicting figurative representation. One can easily imagine how the artist crushes, cut, scraped, applied and sliced the vivid colour pigments to arrive at this point. Wen Wu's work does not prescribe to any specific theory or doctrine. He is merely interested in challenging universal and societal ideas of how art is made and viewed.



The four paintings of Ren Zhitian, “20140925”, “20141001”, “20141101” and “20141102”, are been applying the carbon black as the medium instead of the ink, presenting the pleasure with Chinese brush completely, full of floating calligraphy structure, revealing the majestictingeds faintly amid the unending changes, and giving off the magic breath. Ren Zhitian always thinks the things from the angle


easy to be neglected, which is reflected by his works. The key vocabulary of his works is composed of China classic calligraphy and daily subjects, the elegant calligraphy with rhyme and the relation with the carbon black form the picture, and the beauty emerges from the flying of grand and magnificent cursive script. It is a dialogue between the inner experience and the actual encounter, in other words, it is a dialogue about object, a visual logic and a rational judgment. His works infiltrate the simple and abstract poetry and imagination with connotation and rhythm through the calligraphy with ink.


The latest paintings including Square Matrix, Square Matrix 2 and Guan of Li Yiwen who is good at seizing the detail or part of buildings and always dissociate them makes the image purer and more concise, and makes people feel a little bit of poetic flavor. Light grey keynote, still environment, solitary buildings and empty space, which make you feel in a “no man’s land” occurred or being occurring like a stodgy fiction, such indifferent sights are in contrast with the urban sights imbued with restlessness. The painting of Li Yiwen is of the subjectivity with psychological dislocation-----language comprised of simplicity, tranquility, poetry and monstrousness. Obviously, Li Yiwen adopts the post-modern representation method, integrating the elements such as reality, illogic, fiction, dislocation and novel scene into the new painting vocabulary, not only expanding the rhetoric aesthetics of painting, but also constructing new painting narration.


The young artist Lin Ke graduated from the New Media Department of China Academy of Art, and draws much attention recently. The “video Electronic Music always Making People Dance” (2-04) is almost regarded as an aggregation of new media, and namely is composed of the photographic recording and operant behavior recording in regard to internet and computer. He explores new visual aesthetics with the daily computer system. In fact, Lin Ke regards body action and multi-media as theater space with organic connection.


As a result, he regards the computer and network space as a field extracting ready-made articles, such as spring binder, desktop background, daily software tool, web page and website, online music, picture and video which are all his extracting objects. What is interesting is that Lin Ke declines to apply the nonlinear editing software, but affirms and adopts computer new technologies to record some computer operant actions with computer screen software, namely, rehearsing in the screen, and the video file producing immediately at the end of actions. In the view of artists, he just is a discoverer of a dynamic video rather than a creator, the body is in the video through actions, so it is also a component. You can be liberated from the original application through the games, tools and functions set by yourself. Just as “the medium is like the people”, Lin Ke sets himself as the exchange window for the virtual world and the real world with the anthropomorphic method. So, the oneself and the virtual world always have expectation and surprise.


Different form the works of Lin Ke, the works of Hu Weiyi highlight the relationship between the video installation and interactivity. His work Low-level Landscape II was finished in Rotterdam of the Netherlands in 2013, integrating the concept of low–level landscape/scene film, also incorporating interactive elements of audience participation. In the traveling suitcase, Hu Weiyi regards the traveling suitcase as a carrier for people in the globalization and modern society. It not only transfers the permeation and fusion regarding the culture with uncertainty and liquidity, but also carries the living material and daily memory of the traveler. As a result, Hu Weiyi brings the audience into the interactive session of works, to make the audience choose the camera with several buttons, and the image of the chosen camera is projected in the suitcase by a small projector. Then the audience may make the selected camera rotate with button to change the shooting angle, also make it stop. The inner structure of the traveling suitcase is similar to the urban street after processing, and the light material adjusted correspondingly makes it portable, just like a “movable cinema”.


Therefore, this is a group exhibition, from which the present situation of the Chinese contemporary art is seen. The works of five artists not only show their talent, imagination and creation, but also represent the new changes of the Chinese contemporary art amid the transformation of Chinese society.



Artists: Wen Wu, Ren Zhitan, Li Yiwen, Lin Ke and Hu Weiyi 

Opening reception: 5pm - 7pm, Saturday 2015.5.30