Chambers Fine Art Beijing announces the opening on August 30 of Seasons: Hong Lei’s Recent Works. Born in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province in 1960, Hong Lei graduated from the Nanjing Academy of Art in 1987. Abandoning oil painting in the mid-1990s, he turned to photography as a medium for the exploration of a wide range of cultural issues. Among the images that first attracted international attention were Autumn in the Forbidden City (West Veranda), 1997 and Chinese Landscape (Zhuozheng Gardens), 1998, views of the supreme symbol of Imperial power and a traditional Chinese garden suffused with ominous washes of red pigment.
As familiar with the great cultural achievements of the Song Dynasty as he was with the latest photographic techniques, Hong Lei continued his investigations by recreating the former in terms of the latter. In works such as After Song Dynasty Circle Series, 2000 and After Song Dynasty “Sakyamuni Coming out of the Mountains” by Liang Kai, 1998, the camera lens is unsparing in its recording of the troubling aspects of the subject matter, a dead bird in one of the images from the Circle Series and the disheveled, un-idealized figure of Sakyamuni.
After the success of his two exhibitions at Chambers Fine Art New York – Hong Lei’s Narrative, 2003 and Transmitting the Ancient, 2006 - Hong Lei makes his debut at Chambers Fine Art Beijing with an installation that occupies the entire space of an exhibition room. Just as in the past he has contrasted an idealized past with a corrupt and degenerate present, he will now contrast the raw materials of his creations in the West Gallery with the distillation of his experiences in a series of fifteen new embroidery-paintings in the East Gallery. Each of the works consists of two panels, a white silk panel embroidered with symbolic animals and human forms above black toned oil paintings based on photographs of Chinese gardens on silk. The exploration of different media in this exhibition – besides Hong Lei’s landmark embroidery are also painting and installation – will mark a new stage in the artist’s career.