The Python Gallery in Erlenbach (Zürich) is presenting an exciting exhibition of contemporary Chinese art from August 24, 2013 until October 31, 2013. The paintings and sculptures of the five artists, Feng Lu, Huang He, Huang Min, Li Yan und Song Ying, show that contemporary Chinese art has its roots, but that it uses an international visual language.
Every generation has its dreams. The five artists whose works Nicole Python shows as part of the exhibition ‘Dreams of China’ from August 24, 2013, put their dreams and views into art. Without a doubt, they belong to the group of emerging talents who have shown their work at the Python Gallery in the past year since it’s opening.
The vision, that art should not simply be presented on white walls, but that it should involve dialogue and communication, has been realized by Nicole Python when she was able to turn her passion into a profession and open the Python Gallery. She says ‘ This exciting cross-section of current, emerging contemporary Chinese Art combines what I see as a curator as important: provide unexpected insights, present works of little known artists who show great potential, and facilitate the dialog between the art and the art-lovers. Because only does discussion and confrontation with art make it alive.
Sushi with a difference
The sculptures of Feng Lu (b. 1979 in Heilong, China) are provocative and ironic. He lives and works in Berlin, where he studied art, sculpture and painting at University, and he was included in the master class of Prof. Wolfgang Petrick in 2006 because of his outstanding achievements. Feng Lu’s exercise as an installation sculptor exploring the great human destiny, is created with irony, glee, humour and a dose of sympathy. Some may seem provocative; many works have a breath of the unreal. His characters will be mocked –whether Buddhist or Christian, seeking their salvation – they are almost personal disasters. Feng Lu is a master of the narrative. The discomfort is in proportion to the relationship, the way the statement is included about the wider world. Collective delusion, desparate dance on a volcano or being all too human, are his themes. The rules are clear, the conflict is predictable – it is tragic and artistic at the same time.
Disturbing, In a Positive Way
At first glance the works of Huang He, who was born in the Chinese province of Hainan in 1977 and now lives in Beijing, are found to be a very broad and inconsistent design spectrum: Historical vistas, dramatic animal photos, portraits of monkeys and other animals, monumental formats or faces behind bars. What unites his paintings is the strictly selected picturesque procedure: the grisaille – a painting that is executed exclusively in gray, black and white. Huang He exceeds the visual, stylistic and narrative possibilities of traditional Chinese art and takes a fresh look at things, by combining Chinese stories and topics with an expressive, international visual language. The drama, which can always be found in his paintings, are often set into large or even monumental formats. Huang He’s paintings and sculptures are captivating, disturbing in a positive way, and ask existential questions about our own position with respect to creation and what we do on this earth.
Self Discovery through Historical Reflection
Huang Min strikes with his large format and quasi chamber music works a bridge from yesterday to today. The motives of Huang Min, who was born in 1975 in Chongqing and now lives in Beijing, are superficial landscapes. In the eastern tradition of landscape painting, there are two key aspects of form: the horizontal, which conveys vastness and infinity, and the vertical, showing the overpowering of nature and its superiority. Huang Min has reconstructed Chinese landscape images in her own way, creating a combination of historical reflection and future skill. The historic way in which the figures appear in her works, are used today for self-discovery.
Li Yan has a spiritual kinship with European traditions, such s the painting of ruins and interiors. Or to catastrophic events. What happens at the moment of an accident or disaster, the eyewitness is hidden. Similarly, Li Yan, (born in Jilin, China in 1977 who now lives in Beijing) creates new situations from fragments of reality. This is the principle of panta rhei, everything changes in the forefront, and not the search for an incontrovertible truth.
The Red Star and the Question of Identity
Song Ying, is engaged with searching for identity, both in modern China, but also in regard to the role of women. Her trademark, the red star, has been for a long time in China like the guiding star of life – light on the path in the classless society. The red star, which is also part of the corporate design of the brewery Heineken and of the largest US department store, Macy’s, is contrasted with the dark, gray-toned grisaille of portraits of beautiful Chinese women. Often in uniform, the cult of beauty in women also has a political dimension. Song Ying’s works ask: ‘Who am I?’ – The soldier? The woman? The symbol of the well-being of my people?’ The blade marks on her works reminds us of the interference in the age of black-and-white television, and shows the interchangeability of the idols that are anonymous anyway. Song Ying was born in Yingkour, China in 1968, and now lives and works in Beijing.