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Book Without Words

Geng jianyi


September 7 – October 21, 2006

Corner, 2006
Bound paper and cloth, wood and mixed media installation
6 x 8.5 x 1 in (15 x 21.5 x 3.5 cm)
Sunk for Five Seconds, 1988
Sunk for Five Seconds
Paper bound with silk thread, water color
8.5 x 5.5 x .20 in (22 x 14 x 0.5 cm)
Inherent, 2006
Bound paper and cloth, wood and mixed media installation
8.5 x 6 x 2 in (22 x 15 x 5 cm)
The Third Copy, 2006
The Third Copy
Bound paper and cloth, wood and mixed media installation
9 x 8 x 10 in (23 x 21 x 25.5 cm)

Chambers Fine Art is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition in New York of Geng Jianyi titled Book Without Words. This exhibition, curated by Chinese art critic and scholar Zheng Shengtian, is a playful exploration on the tactile experience of reading books. Geng Jianyi creates mechanical book installations to call attention to the physical methods in which we read books. The repetitive motion of the turning pages moved by an invisible hand invites visitors to ponder their own act of flipping through pages.

While many Chinese artists like Lu Shengzhong, Xu Bing and Huang Yongping have deconstructed books, language and calligraphy successfully, Geng Jianyi’s interests lie in the relationship between people and books. This exhibition is part of his evolving exploration of this concept. Geng Jianyi’s earlier work approaches books as a medium for transmitting knowledge and recording information. In Reading (1990), he asked visitors to his home to dip their fingers in seal paste and to read an empty book. The result is a record of the traces left behind by all the people who looked through the book. The installations in Book Without Words provide another fresh look into the way in which we experience reading.

Despite Geng Jianyi’s long-standing obsession with books, it was his oil paintings of laughing faces that propelled him to the center of the contemporary Chinese art scene in the 1980s. These faces became an iconic image in contemporary Chinese art, but Geng Jianyi felt limited by painting and moved on to investigate photography, installation and conceptual art. He has since exhibited at the Venice, Gwangju and Shanghai Biennale as well as in notable exhibitions such as Alors, La Chine (2003) at the Pompidou Center in France and Cities on the Move (1997) in Austria.

Curator of this exhibition, Zheng Shengtian is an accomplished scholar and professor in contemporary Chinese and Asian Art. In addition to organizing exhibitions, he is also the Managing Editor of Yishu, the only English language magazine on contemporary Chinese art. Geng Jianyi was among the first group of Zheng Shengtian’s students at the Zhejian Fine Art Institute, Hangzhou, in 1983.

Having kept close ties with Geng Jianyi, Zheng asserts, “In more than two decades, Jianyi has continuously explored, asked questions, experimented and transcended himself. He has shown the most essential characteristics of an avant-garde artist.” This exhibition will provide an opportunity for the American public to become acquainted with one aspect of the work of this quietly powerful artist.

*Catalogue Available.

前波画廊将于9月7日至10月21日举办着名艺术家耿建翌在美国纽约的第一次个人展览《无字的书》。由世界知名艺术评论家和学者郑胜天策划,这次展 览展出的作品以读书这一平常过程中的种种微小细节为主题。耿建翌为这次展览创作了一系列机械书,以引起观者对读书过程中物质方式的关注。书页被看不见的手 反覆翻动,观者在仔细体味作品的同时,也会暗暗想像自己翻书的各种细节。

许多中国艺术家,如吕胜 中、徐冰、和黄永 等人都用艺术品成功地对书本,传统语汇和书法进行诠释和颠覆。耿建翌对书的兴趣却在于人与书之间的关系,这次展览将呈现他对这一概念的 探索进程。在他的早期作品中,书被看作传递知识和记载信息的工具。在1990年的《阅读方式》中,他邀请每一位到他家的来访者用双手蘸上印泥,然后按照自 己的习惯,从头到尾翻阅一本空白书。最后书上沾满了各种颜色的手印。《无字的书》中展出的装置作品将对读书这一过程做出更新的诠释。

耿建翌的创作一直与书有关,但为他赢得国际声誉的却是他80年代创作的巨幅面带狂笑的油画。他所创作的笑脸已成为中国当代艺术的经典,但耿建翌却认为油画限 制了自己的艺术创作,从而转向摄影、装置等观念艺术。他的艺术作品多次出现在国际大展上,包括威尼斯双年展,光州双年展,上海双年展,《问》(法国蓬皮度 艺术中心)和《移动的城市》(澳大利亚)等。

此 次展览的策划人郑胜天教授是中国和亚洲当代艺术的专家。他不仅在世界各地策划展览,还是世界上唯一一本以中国当代艺术为主题的英文杂志《艺术》的主编。郑 胜天80年代时在浙江美术学院(现中国美术学院)任教,而耿建翌毕业于他所教授的最早的班级。这么多年来,老师与学生一直保持着联系。郑胜天总结说:“二 十多年来,他(耿建翌)不间断的探索、怀疑、实验和超越,证明了一位前卫艺术家最为可贵的品质。"前波画廊举行的《无字的书》将给美国的观众提供机会,了 解耿建翌这位含蓄但作品强有力的艺术家。


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