PARADOXA: Chinese contemporary art between light and obscurity

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The exhibition PARADOXA returns in the city of Udine with the second chapter of the triennial project which was launched last year and born with the aim to investigate and approach the public to the new forms of the Far East contemporary art. Inaugurated on April 22 and produced by the Commune of Udine – Civic Museums in collaboration with the ERPaC – Regional Corporate for the Cultural Patrimony, the show “Paradoxa: Art from actual China” will be visible in the spaces of Casa Cavazzini, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary art of Udine, until August 27, 2017.

After the success of the first edition focused on Japan, the country protagonist of the 2017 edition is China, whose fascinating millennial history and the numerous contradictions of modern times, make it a country with a strong artistic impulse. Denis Viva, curator of exhibition, knows it well, and selected the works of three Chinese artists recognized to international level: Cheng Ran, Xie Nanxing and Chen Wei.

Starting from the general concept of paradox, as a powerful stimulus of reflection and change, the works of the artists investigate the theme of the obscurity, for a long time present in Chinese philosophical and religious traditions, through the use of different media as painting, photography and video-art. Thanks to the accurate seed-dark setting realized by artist Ludovico Bomben, while crossing the threshold of Casa Cavazzini we reach an intimate space, characterized by a black-out of senses and where the exposed works become bright points to follow and from which to be attracted.

The first work that is Light Source by Cheng Ran (1981), a video installation from 2005 in which light-obscurity binomial is represented by a door left half open through which filter flashes of light and fragments of a scene from which we inevitably remain excluded, with the unsatisfied desire to know what happens over the threshold. And it is here that the expressive power of the work of Cheng Ran emerges: left the traditional keys of reading, is able to bring the observer to an almost fascinating dream that leaves space for personal interpretation. The continuous experimentation and research of the artist emerges also in the second work on show, entitled Rock Dove, in which the reference to the masterpiece Birds by Hitchcock is particularly explicit and makes us understand how much the influence of western masters is present in his opera. The video shows a flock of pigeons inside an industrial context, where the sudden shine of the neon cold light provokes their frantic flight and, therefore, the chaos; the initial situation of stasis is reestablished only when they get used to the new sensorial situation.

The preferred medium for Xie Nanxing, born 1970, is instead the painting, to which he arrives through various passages and media like the photo and the video. The canvas in fact is the final outcome of his research, peak of a journey that form the abstraction of the idea in the mind of the artist reaches the eyes of the spectator. Four are the works on show, of large dimensions, united by the unreadability of the proposed scenes in which the alternation of full and empty spaces, typical of the oriental pictorial tradition, bring back to the binomial dark-light the main theme of the show. This last aspect is particularly evident in the works The First Round with to Whip no. 3 (2008), in which the clear tones of some brushstrokes let emerge from the fund of the canvas the outlines that remain nevertheless unreadable, and in Untitled (2006), where a light that remembers the infrared rays delineates the contours of a garden wound in the night.

The photos of Chen Wei (1980), finally bring us in a dimension pervaded by an anguish light, almost coming from a post-apocalyptic period in which consciously abandoned objects create some modern dead natures – as in Lost Things of 2009, in which some objects of daily life are “immortalized” by a beam of light that isolate them from their natural context. In Today is Unsuitable for Shooting (2013), the light of a lamp is lost in a sea of fog, from which even surveillance cameras cannot perceive anything. More surreal are the three photos Balls, Dance Hall (Blueness) and Golden from 2013: here the artist immortalizes some night discos, normally full of people, immortalized and deprived of the human presence, in a suspended time between present and future, where the light creates a feeling of perennial alienation.

“Paradoxa. Art from actual China” is a curious and stimulating exhibition, made of contrasts that induce an active fruition of the viewer, and that confirm once more time the great attention that the Civic Museums and the city of Udine devote to the diffusion of the culture and the contemporary art.

PARADOXA. Arte dalla Cina Attuale
22 aprile – 27 agosto, 2017
Casa Cavazzini, Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Udine

CHENG RAN, 'Rock Dove',2009, Video

Cheng Ran, ‘Rock Dove’, 2009, Single channel HD video

Xie Nanxing, ‘Postcard no.8’, 2015, Oil on canvas

Xie Nanxing, ‘The First Round with a Whip no.3, 2008, Oli on canvas

Chen Wei, 'The Augur's Game no.8', 2007IMG_3749 (1)

Chen Wei, ‘The Augur’s Game, no.8’, 2007, Photography, Archival inkjet print

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Magalì Cappellaro

Da sempre appassionata di arte contemporanea e design, si diploma presso il Liceo Artistico Giovanni Sello di Udine e successivamente ottiene la laurea in Tecnologie per la Conservazione e il Restauro presso l'Università Ca' Foscari di Venezia. Particolarmente interessata allo sviluppo delle realtà non-profit in ambito artistico, collabora da anni con varie associazioni culturali di Udine, dove vive e lavora.

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