A+ Contemporary is pleased to announce the opening of group exhibition La Chair on 16th July, 2016. This exhibition is curated by emerging curator Yang Zi as one of A+ Contemporary’s Emerging Curators programs that aim to showcase youth curators’ observation and analysis toward creative practice of artists of the same generation. The 7 exhibiting artists include Jiang Cheng, Li Qi, Shen Yangchao, Sun Wenhao, Wang Shang, Xie Yi, and Zhang Ruyi. Yang Zi refers to the concept of French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s “La Chair” and Masahiro Mori’s “Uncanny Valley”, these two concepts form a verb-object relationship—with the work being the “object” “secreted” by artist himself/herself. The exhibiting artists also experience such conflict and reconciliation during the development of sensory perception towards their work. The exhibition will be on display until 4th September, 2016.
Like the concept behind “Uncanny Valley”, the exhibition consists of artworks that carry similar traits with their creator. Jiang Cheng purposely interweaved himself into the work by placing childhood friends into his paintings. By doing so, he took in also the sense of time, space, and his emotional feelings, allowing a multidimensional depth to become realized from within the confines of two-dimensional print media. While Li Qi’s “conversing” on the screen is investigating artist’s identity, job characteristic and related issues, the wooden structure used to support the television is a commercial product from workers who the artist never met, thus broadening the scope of a conversation. Shen Yangchao put the second-hand watch, which is same weight as the artist himself, in the same space with tools from his workshop to show a time-associated, unspeakable intimate experience. “Resemblance” constitutes the process of artist attempting to project his/her being onto external things, as a result, conflict and contradictions occur as artist begins to loose subjectivity to the work. Therefore, “Reconciliation” becomes another important thread that runs through the whole exhibition.
The concept of “La Chair” resonates with this thread. According to Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “consciousness” is not the same as what “I think”, in fact, it desires and imposes action on the opposing body that embodies the original perceptions. The intention of the curator is to highlight the phenomenon of constant repudiation that artists face in contemporary art scene when trying to unite with their work: rapid reaction to the news, blindly following the trends, and strategic adjustment and formalization of their work for commercial purposes…all contribute to create a huge gap with artist’s personal experience. All exhibiting works from “La Chair” aim to overcome this gap. Xie Yi’s encounter with Female Nude and Snake came from an erotic slide back in 1950. Xie employs large light boxes to create a sense of fleeting as traffic streaming along a highway at night; the artist emphasizes the personal process of collecting images as told through his own aesthetic structure and overcoming the inner self. Zhang Ruyi uses the WeChat video function to take picture of the exact moment of electrical leakage from powerstrips, using forgotten daily objects to hint at people’s life style and personal experience in the internet-era. Sun Wenhao blends his documentary into The Ten Episode TV Drama ‘The Windbag’ and lines from the movie To Live, to express a wanderer’s estranged alienation when back to his hometown. Wang Shang displays his fine jewelry as a response to the video work that acts as “fake commercial”; while emphasizing the insignificant of human beings, it also resonates with the artist’s own career path.
La Chair is presented as a huge dark room, while curator acting like a pathfinder, guiding us to see traces and marks of artists’ constant struggle with their work and the arduous journey of inner conflict. This tug-of-war will last forever, and remain undefined. The good thing is, both artists and their work are open to reality and can benefit from it by gaining enjoyment in the creating process.