Chambers Fine Art is pleased to announce the opening on November 6, 2008 of C0 2008, the maiden flight of four young artists from China who are exhibiting for the first time in New York. Recognizing that it is impossible for any one person to select promising artists from among the thousands who graduate each year, Christophe W. Mao asked some of China’s leading artists and teachers for their recommendations. Three of the artists – Chen Zhiyuan, Jia Hongyu and Zhao Jingyan – were pupils of Qiu Zhijie in the Department of Experimental Art, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou while Yuan Yuan was a pupil of Yu Hong at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing.
In the recent biennials and triennials held throughout Asia, painting was hardly to be seen, yet as the recent works of Yuan Yuan demonstrate, there are artists for whom painting is still a meaningful activity. Recently graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, Yuan Yuan paints diminutive canvases that reference Polaroid photographs, a photographic technique nearing extinction. Assembling 80 small paintings, she captures the image of an individual section by section while emphasizing the time and labor required to capture the instantaneity of the Polaroid photograph. In another series, she paints the images of vulnerable young people as if reflected in the cornea of a beholder’s eye.
Contrasting with the immediacy of Yuan Yuan’s paintings is Rope by Zhao Jingyan, the visual diary of a lifetime achieved through the braiding of hair as it changes in color and texture with the process of aging. Referring to the ancient Chinese practice of tying knots in a rope to record important events, Zhao compares her work in progress to a “body diary.” In its moving representation of the passage of time, her use of this natural material results in a potent symbol of life’s passing.
Time is also of importance in the works of Chen Zhiyuan and Jia Hongyu. In the photographs of Chen Zhiyuan, gunpowder is used not as a source of spectacular effects as in the work of Cai Guo Qiang but as a source of light that is objectified in the camera lens as it illuminates an artificial mountain. The elaborate set-up is used for inquiries of a philosophical nature.
Equally probing is the installation of Jia Hongyu consisting of two disused airplane engines with slowly moving propellers hanging from the ceiling. Attached to the rear of the engines are lighted ghee lamps which drip into the open hands of the Buddha placed directly beneath. Even the most advanced achievements of humanity, the installation seems to say, return to the equilibrium offered by the powerful message of Buddha.
Chambers Fine Art Beijing is proud to present these recent works by four talented young artists who show the degree to which the preoccupations of artists born in the 1980s – just when Chinese society was beginning its dramatic transformation – differ from those of their immediate predecessors. Rejecting political involvement and social commentary, their work tends to be personal, introspective and reflective rather than extrovert and political.