The solo exhibition 'Portraits of Shu Qun: Culture for the Future More Attainable than Utopia?' through reproductions of images of the Mao era proletariat and a digressive phenomenology introduces the artist's critical theories on utopia and its cultural heritage. The exhibition of Thai artist Surasi Kusolwong 'Golden Ghost (A Guest + a Host = a Chinese Ghost)' reflects upon the psychological issues of a consumerist society through a playful and interactive experiment with visitors. For this edition of the 'Curated By...' Yu Hong has picked two aspiring young female artists who articulate a rare feminine perspective on the happenstance of today's world. Both Yuan Yuan and Pan Lin integrate a fascinating use of material with a delicacy of production to express the youngest underpinnings of the emerging contemporary Chinese art aesthetic.
Portraits of Shu Qun: Culture for the Future More Attainable than Utopia?
cuared by Jérôme Sans, UCCA Director
Guo Xiaoyan, UCCA Chief Curator
Today, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) opens the solo exhibition Portraits of Shu Qun: Culture for the Future More Attainable than Utopia? Through reproductions of images of the Mao era proletariat and a digressive phenomenology, Shu Qun introduces his critical theories on utopia and its cultural heritage.
Commenting on the exhibition, UCCA Director Jérôme Sans said: “UCCA is pleased to present the fascinating visual linguistics of Shu Qun in a solo exhibition of his Proletariat Series. Shu Qun introduces to the UCCA's Nave his historically influential art theory as it applies to the current state of contemporary art. A rethinking of the historical pitfalls of Chinese modernization and the rational countermeasures required in facing them, he presents an extensive collection of familiar portraits that present a future trajectory for a new utopian society.”
Since the mid-1980s Shu Qun has endeavored to construct what might be regarded as a digressive mode of phenomenological expression, showing the value of looking back. In The Portraits of Shu Qun: Culture for the Future More Attainable than Utopia? the artist digressively interjects Chairman Mao's expressions in a contemporary setting; raising a discourse outside the classical utopian structure. Developed during the Mao era, that new discourse provided the world with an alternative that did not rely on the Western classical utopian model. “Within the so-called illusory state created by Chairman Mao's expressions, we can see the beginnings of a non-technical, unadulterated utopian mode of expression rooted in Greek and Hebrew cultural logics. The final analysis of a utopian discourse is limited to a technically deterministic formula. Yet Chairman Mao's expressions are nevertheless overflowing, or perhaps it would be better to say, they form an ordering of digression by an unadulterated utopian discourse!” said artist Shu Qun.
Shu Qun thinks the “deadening form” (Baudrillard) revealed by the determinant logic of Western discourse is already taking effect in the world, slowly homogenizing global culture into a set form petrified like rock and hardened like lead. Such a determinant form will never become part of our basic instincts, the discourse formed during the Mao’s era presents an obvious contrast. During the Mao era, physical labor became a form of art, a beauty of movement, with a matching cultural attitude that made it a central pillar for society; making physical labor a great assignment. This and similar Eastern narratives holds an Asian influence that transcends limitations in Western utopian ideals.
Reminiscent of a former era, the painted images still possess a familiar energy of a "once true reality", but the artist is not focusing on that aspect, rather he is using the subject matter as an introspective tool to re-construct the image of the proletariat. A practice that in one aspect tries to confront the fate of that era's rational approach and constructed threshold of thought, and in another seeks to integrate and restore the physical ability to think. The images prompt the consideration of how to transcend sensibility and rationality, reality and fantasy, the linguistic trammels of subject and object, and to initiate and develop a greater sensibility towards actual perception and cognition. From this there can be produced a new approach towards metaphysical form and its higher significance.
Shu Qun, born in 1958 in Jilin Province, currently lives and works in Chengdu. He is one of the founders of the Northern Art Group, the earliest avant-garde group in contemporary Chinese art history. Shu Qun proposed the concept of Rational Painting and was the leading figure in the '85 New Art Movement. He is regarded as the main representative of Chinese 'scuola metafisica' art.
In conjunction with the solo exhibition, on April 25th Shu Qun will discuss his philosophy of art theory and scholar-painting approach to this series of portraits in a talk at UCCA.
Surasi Kusolwong: Golden Ghost (A Guest + a Host = a Chinese Ghost)
curated by Jérôme Sans, UCCA Director
Guo Xiaoyan, UCCA Chief Curator
Today, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) announces the formal opening of Thai artist Surasi Kusolwong’s exhibition Golden Ghost (A Guest + a Host = a Chinese Ghost). The exhibition reflects upon the psychological issues of a consumerist society through a playful and interactive experiment with visitors.
“Surasi Kusolwong's remarkable UCCA installation focuses on consumerism in a way of human activity that breaks with classical form. People can touch and participate in the artwork in a way that normally never happens in exhibition spaces. By reversing this system of values and the hierarchy of the art market, Kusolwong enables a fever around his work to create a commitment and exchange between art and visitor. He creates no frustrations or distance with visitors as they come together in this field of desires; rather he re-appropriates the exchange form of the consumer society itself and turns it into moments of happiness,” comments Jérôme Sans, UCCA Director.
Surasi Kusolwong arranged the exhibition hall into a playground by transporting twelve tons of industrial thread waste from a textile factory to fill the exhibition space to create a symbol of the global economic meltdown. The artist will regularly hide golden necklaces with the ‘Golden Ghost’ symbol to entice visitors into the thread waste to seek the hidden treasure; the necklaces are then given to lucky visitors who find them. At the same time, three mirrored pillars will be set up in the exhibition space; exposing the behavior of the viewers to the public and reflect the changes happening in the space. In Kusolwong’s opinion, “The artwork is a social game. Action by all for all; a situation in which everyone is active and passive as participant and spectator at the same time.” Kusolwong skillfully integrates traditional tales with our modern narrative; expressing the intention between necessity, desire, hope, failure or happiness through aesthetic imagination mixed with direct experience, and he transforms the exhibition space into a place for thinking and experiencing such issues of consumption.
Surasi Kusolwong was born in 1965 in Ayutthaya, Thailand. In 1987 he received his BFA from Silpakorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, and in 1993 he received his MFA from Hochshule für Bildender Künst, Braunshweig, Germany. Currently the artist lives and works in Bangkok, Thailand. Kusolwong’s works blur the line between life and art, typically encouraging public participation by embracing the daily (psychological) experience as an integral component in his artworks. Toying with notions of cultural and economic values and the interplay between people, art, and consumer products, the artist transcends boundaries between public and private spaces—transforming the intimate exchange between visitor and artwork into an exploration of the post-modern economy.
In conjunction with the solo exhibition, on April 18th Kusolwong will share his theory of art and creative practice in a talk at UCCA. Also, limited edition Golden Ghost gold sculptures will be sold at the UCCA Store while the exhibition is open.
'Curated by Yu Hong: Pan Lin & Yuan Yuan: True False Objects
Curated by Jérôme Sans, UCCA Director
Guo Xiaoyan, UCCA Chief Curator
UCCA is honored to host Yu Hong for this edition of the CuratedBy Series. She has picked two aspiring young female artists who articulate a rare feminine perspective on the happenstance of today's world. Both Yuan Yuan and Pan Lin integrate a fascinating use of material with a delicacy of production to express the youngest underpinnings of the emerging contemporary Chinese art aesthetic. Jérôme Sans, UCCA Director
Nearly everyone is born into a world where they are constantly watching; seeing all they are able to see, all they want to see, all that they can't help but see. And yet there are many who still desire to see that which is inappropriate, that which should not be viewed, that which is impossible to see. Those uncertain and ambiguous sights are somehow mysterious and enchanting. Pan Lin is captivated by reflected images in rearview mirrors. The age of the automobile has changed how we become accustomed to viewing things. The moving rearview mirror unexpectedly catches the complicated, confusing, fragmented and chaotic; and seemingly reflects our lives. Pan Lin takes several reflections, these apparently unrelated scenes full of metaphors, and paints them on rearview mirrors. In this evasive viewing, a mixture of truths and falsehoods are spied upon, and all images are recorded backwards in the mirrors. In this kind of repeated spying and recording, we seem to be wandering between the heart of the city and the periphery, wandering between the disputes of the mind and the unreconciled. Pan Lin uses her keen mind and confidence to transform life in an ordinary rearview mirror into a soulful medium, reflecting her inner most feelings and our interlinked restlessness and suspicions.
When the glamorous Japanese and Korean celebrities enter the hearts of young girls, their admirers often take pictures of themselves in an attempt to impersonate these favored celebrities. When they virtually approach theirself image like this, these young girls are able topossess the perfectly long legs, pink lips and long eyelashes of glamorous celebrities. They then satisfy themselves by sharing their photos online, voluntarily submitting their "photos" to publicopinion; fittingly they become adored overnightinternet sensations. When this virtual satisfaction begins to serve as a harmless lubricant of social life, are these girls happy? Do they really believe in this virtual beauty? Yuan Yuan uses ardently fresh brushstrokes to capture such glossy beauty inside fragile crystalclear globes, filling them with the image of fashionably oblivious pretty girls. Self-confident and comfortable, their beauty and calm manner are like fragile bubbles, forming and dissolving in the blink of an eye. The girls are painted as water droplets adhering to the gentle scenery of this interior space. This exceptional manmade fairyland, stretching white with warmth and grace, invites viewers to step beyond individual circumstance and unease in this rapidly changing society and to sigh at the achievement of such youthfully romantic extravagance. Yuan Yuan employ s her thought ful visual expression to bear witness to the invincibility and helplessness of youth within today's world.
Yu Hong, Guest Curator
Their's Are Better Than Mine
In this group of works, I want to express a feeling of anxiety. I mostly paint trivial snippets from daily life. We learn about ourselves by looking in the mirror. In social life, we learn more about ourselves through interaction with other people and other people’s attitudes toward us. Other people serve as our mirror. I am interested in rear-view mirrors because on the one hand it is a tool that aids us in seeing the part of our surroundings that are difficult to see, but on the other hand, it follows us wherever we go. It is full of both uncertainty and insecurity. It corresponds perfectly with the state of our social lives.
In the beginning, I discovered a website online, it attracted a lot of young people who love to take self-portraits and show off photos of themselves. Once, I also posted photos of myself on these kinds of websites. Most people use Photoshop to edit their photos so that their images can appear as perfect as possible. In this way, they elicit compliments from other people. We were all drunk on virtual satisfaction. But very soon I doubted whether such a "beautiful thing" ever existed. Then I had the notion of painting these people, but painting on normal canvas did not strike me as beautiful and dangerous, whereas using fiber glass better corresponded with this kind of feeling. I extended this expression into this installation for UCCA.
Curated By … is a series of exhibitions curated by leading Chinese artists who present young artists they believe in for their first solo show.
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Opening April 18, 2010
Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA)
798 Art District, No.4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, P.O. Box 8503, Chaoyang District, Beijing, P.R.China, 100015
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 10-19
Ticketing: Adult 15 RMB
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Free for children under 1.3m in height
Free on Thursdays