Rip it up and start again

By Sun Shuangjie Source:Global Times Published: 2013-2-6 17:43:00

Although Duan Jianyu and Hu Xiaoyuan have distinctive styles, the two artists are both admirers of each other.

Duan, born in 1970 and based in Guangzhou, won the Best Artist at the Chinese Contemporary Art Awards in 2010 in Beijing.

Hu, born in 1977 and based in Beijing, has also exhibited at a number of well-known art events, including the 12th Documenta in Kassel, Germany in 2007.

An oil painting from the series Going Home by Duan Jianyu
An oil painting from the series Going Home by Duan Jianyu

Joint show

And now, A Potent Force, a joint exhibition by the two artists is being staged at the Rockbund Art Museum, featuring oil paintings by Duan and conceptual videos and installations by Hu.

The series of works on show by Duan include Beautiful Dream, Going Home and Sisters.

The Beautiful Dream and Going Home series both tell visual stories through a number of linked, sequential paintings. In the first, that story is of a university student who keeps his ill father in his dormitory and imagines taking him to tour China and the rest of the world.

In the Going Home series, viewers see a country girl who has undergone a radical transformation in the city before returning to her rural roots. In one of the works, the naked girl is seen lying on the back of a cow in a field while her countrymen are busying working.

"What's amazing is that most of Duan's works are based on her imagination, rather than anything from real life," said the exhibition curator Karen Smith. "Her paintings look very beautiful, and when viewers look closely at the details they see that Duan is also making jokes about real life."

In See, a seven-minute video by Hu, we see the artist hiding behind a vertical curtain of paper which is moved from one side of the screen to the other by the slow swaying of her body upon which the drape of paper rests.

An installation called Summer Solstice features an old-fashioned desk and several personal items such as a book, a pen, a small toy-like model deer, a clock, several empty chrysalis shells from cicadas and a scroll of blank paper that has fallen on the floor.

"In this work, Hu questions the idea that life begins when childhood ends," said Smith. "The desk embodies the strict order of the school, while the cicada shells signify the estrangement of childhood."

Summer Solstice by Hu Xiaoyuan Photos: Courtesy of the Rockbund Art Museum
Summer Solstice by Hu Xiaoyuan Photos: Courtesy of the Rockbund Art Museum

Torn paper

Meanwhile, Useless by Hu features a long piece of paper which has been torn into pieces and later put back together with adhesive tape, accompanied by the recorded sound of the original tearing taking place.

"I like to build my own artistic logistics, which motivates me to continue my creations and life," said Hu when asked how these works rewarded her.

"What the two artists share in common is that their styles result from an amalgam of their respective life experiences and are distilled through their personal background and the environment in which they grow up," added Smith.

Date: Until March 31, 10 am to 9 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 10 am to 6 pm from Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday (During Spring Festival holidays, the venue closes from February 9 to 11, and opens from 10 am to 6 pm between February 12 and 16).

Venue: Rockbund Art Museum 上海外滩美术馆

Address: 20 Huqiu Road 虎丘路20号

Tickets: 15 yuan for individuals, 10 yuan for group visitors (at least 20 people), students and teachers

Call 3310-9985 for details

Posted in: Metro Shanghai

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