RH Contemporary Art Presents OUTSIDE THE LINES: NEW ART FROM CHINA, 1/31-4/12
RH Contemporary Art presents OUTSIDE THE LINES: NEW ART FROM CHINA. On view at the RH Contemporary Art gallery, located at 437 West 16th Street in New York's Chelsea art district, from January 31 to April 12, 2014, the exhibition explores the cultural and philosophical concerns of 12 Chinese artists while revealing the dialogue among their diverse mediums, practices and iconography.
Artists Gao Weigang, the Gao Brothers, Hu Qinwu, Li Hui, Meng Zhigang, Ni Youyu, Pan Jian, Qiu Anxiong, Qiu Deshu, Yan Bing, Yang Yongliang and Zheng Chongbin, all from Beijing or Shanghai, will exhibit newly commissioned bodies of work as well as iconic artworks never before shown in New York. Their work incorporates light, sculpture, ink painting & animation, woodblock prints, photography, performance and installation. The artists in Outside the Lines build on the work of the previous generation of Chinese artists, who gained widespread international popularity through works labeled Political Pop or Cynical Realism. These 12 artists continue to push boundaries, diverging from tradition in their choices of medium, their inclusion of social commentary and their approaches, as they fuse inspiration from both the East and the West. Two artists - Yan Bing and Gao Weigang - will create works for the exhibition while participating in RH Contemporary Art's artist-in-residence program.
Several of the featured artists' work incorporates innovative approaches to traditional Chinese mediums. Zheng Chongbin, who is at the forefront of the contemporary ink painting movement, explores new directions in ink paintings that embody the influence of Western Minimalism and reflect his interest in light and space, properties that have historically inspired many West Coast artists. In turn, Hu Qinwu's subdued use of Chinese calligraphic circles in both his paintings and works on paper contrasts with the hectic pace of social change in contemporary China. Incorporating his iconic fissuring technique, Qiu Deshu's work presents a layered, evolving response to classical Chinese landscape painting. Qiu Anxiong uses traditional Chinese ink and digital techniques to create stop-motion animations that reflect the cultural and physical evolution of China; in doing so, he seeks to create connections between historic eras.
Other artists' inventive use of materials transcends traditional forms to reflect new media, performance and installations. Li Hui combines mirrors, laser beams and clouds of smoke to create mutable scenes that often require viewers' active participation. The resulting works explore dynamics of spirituality and technology, reflecting the man in the machine as well as Buddhist principles of transcendence. Mixed-media artist Ni Youyu pays homage to Chinese Literati Painters while adding contemporary abstractions to archetypical styles. His divergent works include miniature coins that are laboriously pounded and then painted as well as woodblock prints and acrylic-wash paintings. Gao Weigang's sculptural installations, both playful and cynical, challenge viewers' conditioned responses and prompt them to question their conditioning by society, history, education and family. The Gao Brotherscollaboratively create socially charged installation, performance, sculpture and photography works, iconoclastic pieces that cast both a critical and humanizing eye on contemporary China and its relationship to the West.
Many of the selected artists consider the evolution of traditional Chinese society within the context of rapid urbanization and social shifts brought about by economic change and westernization. Their work reflects the diverse and changing realities of contemporary China and its rapidly evolving economic and social environments. Yan Bing's paintings nostalgically allude to his memories of growing up in rural China and the fast pace of China's modern development. Meng Zhigang's paintings of architectural interiors convey a similar quality of absence as they comment upon the current housing crisis in China as well as an imagined apocalyptic, post-industrial future. Incorporating elements of traditional Chinese landscape painting with digital layering and dystopic scenarios, Yang Yongliang's photos and videos consider the new realities created through accelerated urban development. Pivoting between appearance and disappearance, Pan Jian's landscapes of everyday scenes in motion conjure a sense of ephemerality. They are both interpretations of actual places he has visited and collages of memories and fantasies.
Informed by the expertise of its global curatorial team, RH Contemporary Art's artist selection process included multiple in-depth studio visits to cultivate relationships with the artists and to achieve a deeper understanding of their individual cultural perspectives and mediums of expression.
Further exploring the artists' practices and inspirations, RH Contemporary Art has plans to produce six new original documentaries on the artists in the exhibition as a continuation of its artist documentary series available online at rhcontemporaryart.com. Volume 2 of the RH Contemporary Art Journal, featuring new critical essays and artist profiles, will be available in print and online in late February 2014.