‘Form follows function—that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.’
—Frank Lloyd Wright
Objective and Chambers Fine Art are pleased to present Union, an exhibition that collects artworks, design objects, and furniture that, when inhabiting the same space, create the spiritual union that architect Frank Lloyd Wright describes in his famous quotation. The phrase "form follows function" was coined by architect Louis H. Sullivan in 1896, for whom Wright was an assistant for several years before striking out on his own, on his way to becoming known as the “Father of Modernism”. Although the original phrase has become somewhat over-used in the architectural and design world, the idea behind it continues to be relevant in today’s world. Wright’s interpretation of this idea and his vision of a spiritual union between form and function became a natural guide-post as we created a setting that pairs contemporary Chinese art and furniture within a beautiful historic house in Shanghai.
Song Hongquan’s marble sculptures, including his otherworldly Clouds, and Lotus, an enlarged, hand-carved replica of lotus seed, echo the curved forms of birds and lotus leaves in a 20th Century “Golden Lotus” Chinese Screen, made of red and black lacquered wood. A second Chinese lacquer folding screen depicts vases with flowers and other traditional objects intricately inlaid with hardstone. The attention to detail in the foliate motifs of the screen exemplifies the long artisanal tradition in China, and the piece finds a spiritual kinship with the paper-cut works of Wu Jian’an, made up of many overlapping cut-outs of mythical characters. Wu’s multi-step process of creating each paper-cut character, then hand-dyeing each piece and sealing it in wax, and finally stitching them together in a larger artwork brings many traditional elements into the contemporary realm.
A massive wooden bookcase and oak writing desk are reminiscent of the Shanghai Modern style of the 1930s, but also recall the long history of the scholarly literati tradition in China, particularly when paired with Guo Hongwei’s calligraphy-themed watercolors and Taca Sui’s poetic, timeless photographs. Continuing the 1930s theme, but in this case, inspired by a piece of Italian Jewelry from the 1930s, is an elegant Jewel Totemic Side Table constructed with steel, bronze, and acrylic. The clever manner in which the various materials are pieced together is reminiscent of Lucy Liu’s elegant paper-cut collages, created using her 5-year old son’s drawings and found paper materials. Inspired by her mother, the colorful ‘portraits’ reflect upon the experiences her mother had when she emigrated to the US in the 1960s.
A Cocoon Armoire made of steel, mirror and handmade paper engages in surprisingly close dialogue with Fu Xiaotong’s pinprick pieces, also created with handmade paper, with organic forms inspired by cellular structures, coral reefs, and other natural phenomena. An earthy, understated marble Drum Stool continues this theme, especially when juxtaposed with Yan Shanchun’s serene West Lake • Fuchun paintings, which use ink acrylic, plaster, and pigments to evoke a rich, dream-like natural landscape. EWE Studio’s serene Altar tables are inspired by flat-topped blocks used for religious rituals and ceremonies, especially for sacrifices or offerings to the deities; their quiet yet powerful presence is akin to Lu Hui’s Liliana paintings, depicting 100-year old vines that have witnessed generations of human history.
EWE Studio’s Copal table carved out of Tikal green marble, and their black Orizaba marble stone
Humo Table has a mystical quality and has been seemingly plucked out of one of GAMA’s whimsical paintings, which are often a combination of imagery from his Mongolian upbringing and from German fairy tales, the country where he studied and settled. Snapping us back to the present day, the fierce, neon-ringed face of a tiger that adorns Pantera Chair faces off with Pixy Liao’s self-portrait Red Nails. Pixy’s ongoing Experimental Relationship series explores traditional gender roles as she documents her 13-year relationship with her partner, Moro.
For the last 20 years, Chambers Fine Art has established a roster of artists who are keenly aware of the past and utilize this awareness to build upon tradition. Housed within a historic building of Shanghai’s Xintiandi neighborhood, Objective creates a narrative environment that embraces a personal and collaborative approach to art and design. Bringing together the old and the new, form as well as function, Union creates an immersive environment that allows the viewer to imagine another time, another space, that is inextricably linked to our own.
一面大型木质书架与一张典致的橡木写字台令人联想到1930年代的上海现代主义风格，而与郭鸿蔚以书法为主题创作的水彩作品和塔可诗般隽永的摄影作品并置时，让观者不由沉浸到历史悠远的中国文人传统氛围之中。同样是三十年代的风格，内敛风雅的Jewel Stool边桌由钢、铜及亚克力有机玻璃拼接制成，灵感造型源于1930年代的一件意大利珠宝。这种巧妙地将各种材料汇集一体的方式与刘玉玲（Lucy Liu）将五岁儿子的绘画与现成物结合在一起所制成的剪纸拼贴作品相映成趣。此系列色彩斑斓的肖像作品展现了刘母亲六十年代移民美国时所遭遇的经历。
朴实、低调的大理石鼓凳延续了自然景观的主题，尤其当其与严善錞静谧的《西湖 • 富春》系列油画作品并置时，这些绘画作品运用水墨、丙烯、石膏等材料塑造出丰富、梦幻般的自然景观。
EWE Studios 宁静的祭坛桌灵感源于宗教仪式中使用的平顶石块，在祭祀神灵的活动中尤为常见。其安静而有力的存在，与卢辉在绘画系列《蔓》中所描绘的见证人类多代历史的百年老藤也形成了共鸣。EWE Studios 由蒂卡尔的绿色大理石雕刻而成的Copal Table以及由奧里萨巴的大理石制成的Humo Table富有神秘的特质，好似从GAMA诙谐怪诞的画作中脱显出来的一般。GAMA绘画作品的视觉内容常常结合了其在蒙古的成长经历以及成为其第二故乡的德国的童话故事。