CHEN Wei’s post-Chinese realities in photography

Two international galleries will present Beijing-based photographer CHEN Wei’s works this Spring, starting on April. Hong Kong-based Gallery EXIT hosts Chen Wei’s second solo exhibition with the gallery, which opens on April 4th. Gallery EXIT was established in 2008 aiming to focus on artwork that is controversial, progressive, and representing all media. Chen Wei will present a selection of his photographs, light-boxes and installations that feature the inherent and dissonant contradictions between expectations and reality. Carefully staged and narrated frames show fragments of personal memories and fantasies. His compositions imply hidden symbols telling about contemporary realities, and marking histories. Additionally, Chen’s first solo exhibition in the UK will be Slumber Song. It opens in London at the end of April at Ben Brown Fine Arts.

Chen Wei belongs to a new generation of emerging Chinese artists who depict a more diverge approach to the culture than previous generations, as they come after the Cultural Revolution era. Rather than critiquing the historic past, he uses photography as a vehicle to capture human encounters with a changing and developing China. Chen Wei’s still-life photography captures the mundane and the ordinary, the portrayed objects look old-fashioned and rustic; yet the images echo drama and presence through the designed scenes.

CHEN Wei, Coins, 2012, 150x120cm, Archival inkjet print
CHEN Wei, Coins, 2012, Archival inkjet print, 150x120cm

Chen Wei’s photographs are Inspired by cinematic methodologies where suspense creation rules the dynamics of narration. Objects are referencing to allegories that imply many meanings, and Chen is cautious of leaving the narratives open.

Coins, statues, books and light reappear throughout the narrative of the exhibition, hinting at contemporary themes and taboos such as desire in a consumptive society, the spectacle of the art world and the human condition in urban environment. (Gallery EXIT)

Chen Wei constructs his works by creating situational installations which he then photographs. The images radiate intimate everyday settings, slowly revealing an unclear, unsettling, yet uncategorized state of emotion.

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Chen Wei (b. 1980, in Zhejiang Province) is now living and working in Beijing. The artist has made appearance in numerous group exhibitions across the world since 2003, and more than 10 solo exhibitions in Asia and Europe since 2008. He received the 1st Asia Pacific Photography Prize at ShContemporary Art Fair in Shanghai in 2011. He is awarded the Best Photography Artist of 2011 by art journal Randian. Chen’s exhibitions include: Seoul Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai, Pingyao International Photography Festival, Poznan Biennale, etc.

Info about upcoming exhibitions:

Chen Wei’s exhibition at Gallery Exit, Hong Kong:

4 April – 3 May 2014

Opening: Friday, 4 April, 6 – 9 pm

Gallery EXIT, 3/F, 25 Hing Wo Street, Tin Wan, Aberdeen, Hong Kong

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 1100 – 1800

http://www.galleryexit.com/

Chen Wei’s Slumber Song – exhibition at Ben Brown Fine Arts, London
12 Brook’s Mews, London W1K 4DG, UK

30 Apr – 5 Jun 2014

Hours: Monday to Friday: 11am – 6pm
Saturdays: 10.30am – 2.30pm

www.benbrownfinearts.com

Chen Wei will be presented in a group exhibition at Tampa Museum of Art/My Generation: Young Chinese Artists
 7 Jun 2014 – 28 Sep 2014
 Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, USA
www.tampamuseum.org

Christy Rupp’s animalistic art

Christy Rupp was presented at VOLTA NY’ 14 by Frederieke Taylor Gallery. The artist who is known for her 1980s public art projects, was at the art fair with her new work that raises questions about environmental threats and issues around wild animals and nature. One part of her presentation was a series of sculptures around microfauna from the Gulf of Mexico; artworks are made from welded steel and encaustic wax.  In another series of sculptures (images above), Rupp explored the relationship between ivory and energy. These were made in response to threats coming from drilling, addressing also accurate issues around poaching. The artist has made sculptures called ‘The Fake Ivory Series‘ (welded steel and encaustic wax) pointing that wild animal spices are threatened to extinction as they are poached for their tusks. The art stands for trophies as desired objects that include animal parts such as ivory.  Scrimshaw or tattoo-like scribbles on them make comments on the value placed on energy over life. The sculpture ‘Walrus‘, 2014, a mixed media work with credit card solicitations, concretely points to currency over humanistic ideals that protect our environment.

The artist’s past includes diverse projects that are politically, socially and environmentally engaging. Rupp participated in the legendary “The Times Square Show” and “The Real Estate Show” of 1979-80, and she is affiliated with Colab and Group Material. To address artist’s past and her works in context, the gallery also showed video and documentation of her art projects from the early 80’s period.

Christy Rupp’s recent notable shows include:

“Dead or Alive” at the Museum of Arts and Design, NY 2010, “Dear Mother Nature” at the Dorsky Museum of Art, SUNY New Paltz, NY 2012, “This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980’s”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL 2012, “American Dreamers” Pallazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy w/ Hudson River Museum, and “XFR STN” Transfer Station at the New Museum, NY 2013, among numerous others.

Erwin Redl: ‘InMotion’

Erwin Redl had his recent exhibition InMotion at Bitforms Gallery in New York City. He is known for works that emphasize perception, architectural space, kinetic elements, LED-installations, social space and corporeality. The Ohio-based artist visited the gallery himself, and spoke to visitors during the Armory Show week in March. It was fascinating to see how the ping-pong balls rise into the glass pipes in different rhythms making a specific sound-effect. Redl told that his background is in electronic music, which makes perfect sense. The glass pipes of ‘Levitate’ sculpture also reminds of an instrument like organ. It takes an entire wall, and has thirty-one vertically suspended glass pipes. Each of them has a fan installed on the bottom to propel a ping-pong ball up. The fans are then synchronized to create sequences. Acoustics in the small room is amazingly intimate fitting for the works.

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Another incredible installation was ‘Breath of Light’  that is composed of structures each having nine acrylic plates on them. The installations hang in the air and reflect beautiful configurations with green-colored laser beam. The mode of these plates is to go from transparent plain to an origami of variations that radiate around with green reflections. If ‘Levitate’ is fun and sound-oriented, ‘Breath of Light’ is deeper and  more mysterious. ‘The third installation, ‘Swing’ is a series of floor sculptures made of spring-loaded metal rods. It raises curiosity as an engineering project. The fans installed on top of the rods make them move or swing back and forth in an airy manner. The rods swing in formation, which makes them seem robotic, and less human-attached. The fourth one, ‘Inclined Plane’ propels ping-pong ball upward with fans. It is the most minimalistic one, perhaps a script for the project.

Erwin Redl is an Austrian-born artist, who is internationally acclaimed installation artist. His most large-in-scale public installation is Fetch (2010), which is a computer-controlled 580-foot long outdoor LED installation that he created for the Wexner Center for the Arts in Ohio.

…  InMotion related video at https://vimeo.com/86196863

…  More info on Erwin Redl’s web-site at www.paramedia.net

VOLTA NY 14: art speaks back from the walls

Jennifer Wynne Reeves creates collages on boards that some include wire, some hair or feathers, and some thick applications of paint. This approach could by no means represent flat wall art. The dimensionality makes the art continue in space. Objects and paint are not decorative art either, but there is something folk-art in them; or retrospectively ”American” influences. These works suggest, as one work is titled, voluptuous meanings that are material, sensuous and touchable. Reeves writes as part of her artistic practice. Writing collide with personal meanings, and is symbolic in nature.

Her statements, or poems end up being part of the artwork itself. The artist was presented at the VOLTA by New York City gallery BranvinLee programs. The art presented at the art fair spoke about her illness, which is also reflected in her writing:

I think I might not be alive to go to my opening next September. I think I should rush to finish things. I wonder why my body is doing this or that. I think Christmas will be long. I think I won’t be able to save enough money for old age with all these bills, and that an imminent death would be preferable. I wouldn’t have to look for even more powerful galleries. -Jennifer Wynne Reeves 2013, Callicoon, NY

VOLTA art fair offers a chance to get in touch with art that promotes freshness and openness of ideas. The fair is relatively easy to access. It should be, that art fairs can be walked-in-to, so the art can be discussed and shared. VOLTA is like one big gallery space, where multiple stops lead to curiosities, comprehension, and even comparisons. Perhaps art displayed with this many references has a better chance for new perspectives.This year, the amount of techniques was compelling. Among the artisans of art was definitely a Japanese woodcut artist Katsutoshi Yuasa. For him, woodcut is a new way of seeing images and photography. The long process gives refinement of light, and adds the personality. Yuasa works on the printing process and reliefs based on his own digital photography. He uses traditional Japanese printmaking technique, which takes time. Carving and printing are all made by hand. For Yuasa, printmaking out of a photograph has a deeper meaning that what could be expressed in photographs. He thinks that photographs are more like a fictional two-dimensional surface. He says, that carving on the plywood, and the printing on paper, will add another dimension. The result is an abstract reality, which implies both subjective and objective perceptions. Yuasa also worked in Finland in an artist residence. The work ”Ilmatar” is based on his photograph of Finnish forest. He was presented at VOLTA by YUKI-SIS gallery from Tokyo.

Pius Fox is a young Berlin-based German artist, whose works are influenced by modernistic means. Not only the color-scheme, but the meticulous, minimal and graphic output is reminiscent of styles before his own era. His works move between painting and drawing, figurative and abstract, lingering between form(alism) and context. Multiple layers of paint create an idea of space. Fox makes small works that together are like an installation. One can only think how many different ways to place them on the walls. Small works communicate with each other. When separately, the scale still holds a lot of energy and tension. His color schemes represent past times, giving nostalgic vibrations. As if an old gramophone was playing tunes, light curtain had moved to let air inside the room. Colors are contrastive, some of them pale and pastels, some dark and more graphic. Indeed, Fox uses interiors of his own work studio for inspiration, including windows, doors, curtains and so on, to introspect atmosphere. Yet the works have an appeal of formality and outwardness. He was presented by Patrick Heide Contemporary Art from London.

Volta NY 14: Inzilo by Mohau Modisakeng

South African Mohau Modisakeng’s beautiful video Inzilo was an eye-catchers at VOLTA NY 2014. The slow-motion video opens up a theme of mourning from a personal point of view. Inzilo is a word that ”refers to a practice in some South African traditions around the loss of a loved one characterized by a period of mourning.” Dressed only in a piece of black garment and a hat, Mohau, as a solo performer goes through a process where he transits from one stage to the next. Sitting on a chair motionless, he first looks ethereal both arms stretched on his side, as the camera rotates slightly around the white room. Then he starts scattering, picking pieces of the burnt fabric (in this case wax) and ash from his hands. Gradually, it appears that as layers of burnt go, a new skin is revealed. The camera shows close-ups of his hands and feet covered with debris. Eventually, head bent down, he decides to get up, shakes and throws the remained pieces with a dust cloud in the air. His performance represents a rite of passage, a transition from mourning to normal.

Performing rituals is one powerful way to convey African indigenous, diasporic and post-apartheid messages via contemporary art. We have seen this happen in the dance works of South African choreographer Vincent Mantsoe, based in France. This similar kind of purity of emotions and thought comes across from Mohau Modisakeng’s video, which is a dialogue between a performance and the visual.

Mohau Modisakeng was represented at VOLTA NY 2014 by BRUNDYN + gallery from CAPE TOWN. The artist was born in Soweto. He lives and works between Johannesburg and Cape Town. He completed his undergraduate degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town in 2009 and worked towards his Masters degree at the same institution. He was awarded the SASOL New Signatures Award for 2011. The artist was presented at VOLTA NY also in 2013.

visit BRUNDYN + gallery http://www.brundyngonsalves.com/gallery/

VOLTA NY 14: Simeen Farhat’s ‘Alice’ and the language puzzles

simeen farhat she looses her temper
Simeen Farhat, “She Looses her Temper”, 14 x 16 x 5 inches. Cast and pigmented resin & acrylic rods, 2014.

Pakistani-born, Dallas-based artist Simeen Farhat has taken a classic novel ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ as a starting point for her new installation for VOLTA NY 2014 edition, which ran from March 6-9 in Soho. VOLTA is called as ‘invitational solo project fair for contemporary art’, so Farhat’s solo exhibition was equally presented by a gallery who is already endorsed multiple times by the fair. Her exhibition, curated by Christine Pfister of Pentimenti Gallery from Philadelphia, emphasizes a materiality of the language puzzles. The artist is known for creating poetic works with dimensionality and message, that come with the use of different languages and ways of communicating in our cultural encounters. This time, her colorful and even candy-colored sculptures and installation speak about the problematic nature of cross-cultural communication, showing the emotions and frustrations that are attached to the rules of using our languages. Farhat’s previous works have drawn from such languages as Farsi (RUMI poetry) and Urdu. Text used around the ”Alice” installation is English.

The immediate surface of the words come across as part of the form, and the text intermingles with the sculptural transparency. This already creates puzzles as we see only fragments of language, which, when viewed from a distance, create aesthetical form. When we step closer to the sculptures, the objects invite us to perceive them from different angles. Pink and black cast resin wall sculpture “She Looses her Temper”, is an example of Farhat’s sculptures that emphasizes the multiplicity of the form when viewed from various positions. As it comes to the emotional statements of texts, the ”pointiness” of words structure dynamic messages.

Philosophy is important element in Farhat’s artist statement:

“Words – written or spoken, understood or misunderstood, poetic or prosaic, curvilinear or rectilinear, are what motivate me to create my visual narrative. I am fascinated by how, through language, we understand a great deal about ourselves and surroundings, and how ideas: simple, complex and abstract, are conveyed and understood using symbols.” (Simeen Farhat)

simeen farhat_image2
Simeen Farhat, “She Looses her Temper”, 2014
simeen farhat _image7
Simeen Farhat puzzles with languages, Pentimenti Gallery, VOLTA NY2014.

”Alice’s tears” create undoubtely the center of Simeen Farhat’s VOLTA installation. The blue teardrops in various sizes seem to flow effortlessly from the ceiling, pouring down from Alice’s eyes when she has grown tall.  The viewer can imagine Alice, by experiencing the shades of blue in the sculptures, some of them so light-colored that they are almost invisible towards the white backdrop, some darker. The shapes also vary from softer and rounder to sharper ones, and they accumulate and reshape closer to the ground. The tears are seen differently depending on the lighting conditions; the shadows are creating part of the narrative too. Farhat has sometimes included textiles into her previous installations to reference the (female) ‘body’. For Alice, the handcrafted cast resin has worked miracles. Different blue shapes and sizes embody the space leaving room for imagination and story.

Simeen Farhat has exhibited in the United States and internationally, including Pakistan, London, the UAE, India, Finland and Germany. Her collaboration with Pentimenti Gallery will continue through 2014, and her solo exhibition will open in Philadelphia later this year.

for more information visit: www.pentimenti.com