"BETWEEN UTOPIA AND DYSTOPIA" Group Exhibition
To commemorate the beginning of an artful year, Massimo De Carlo gallery presents its first group show ‘Between Utopia and Dystopia’ at Hong Kong’s Pedder Building. It will be on display from19 January 2017 to 11 March 2017.
Curated by independent curator and critic Manuela Lietti, the exhibition brings together works by six Chinese contemporary artists that explore the notion of landscape. Featured artists have roots in Mainland China – Jia Aili, Liu Xinyi, Meng Huang, Qiu Shihua, Wang Sishun, and Wang Zhongjie.
“The unique element of this exhibition is that it offers a view on the conceptual and naturalistic interpretations of landscape in contemporary Chinese painting and sculpture by artists belonging to different generations and backgrounds. Viewers will see a mix of artworks touching upon its cultural, social and geo-political implications.” comments Lietti.
All of them approach the topic from their own unique perspectives; they created landscapes suspended between the real and the ideal dimensions. External sights and inner visions filled with intimacy and meditative tones co-exist with images of a collapsing world presented with less idyllic but nevertheless true qualities.
Jia Aili cleverly juxtaposes a contemporary approach with a traditional figurative style. His abstract, fragmented landscapes are often interrupted by subjects that appear to be searching or drifting. Every landscape is private, presenting the inner self rather than contemporary society in general, even though Jia's paintings also reflect the increasing lack of communication between man and the world he inhabits. Therefore, Jia’s works are often melancholic in their contemplation of a world that is increasingly connected yet lonely, in which borders are not just physical entities but also self-imposed states of mind.
Liu Xinyi’s work often displays a rather unexpected double nature, undermining the viewer's certainty about reality, its perception, and the mechanisms underlying the cognitive processes that regulate it. The landscapes in his work are often territories marked by their geo-political importance and strategic place within the global world, and presented with a certain amount of irony and, at times, cynicism.
Meng Huang has painted the local landscapes familiar to him since 2004. His landscape paintings are characterized by the use of a specific color palette based mainly on two tones, black and white, as well as the mixture of the two in a wide array of grays. This reminds us of the severity and monotony of a geological map, which transform landscape painting into a topographical survey. The choice of this austere color palette celebrates non-spaces that seem to be part of a world at its end, collapsing and imploding under its own weight.
At first glance, Qiu Shihua's works appear to be monochrome: an almost completely white canvas. However, on closer inspection, expansive landscapes emerge from the painterly surfaces, which, depending on the viewer’s taste and disposition, thrive with detail or recede again from view. The artist creates broad landscapes in neutral colors applied in an apparently minimalist style that is a process of meditation rather than mimesis. The mysterious depth of Qiu’s painting plays with the eye of the beholder, blurring the balance between medium and gaze.
In his artistic practice, Wang Sishun decontextualizes and deconstructs objects by turning them into something aesthetically and conceptually new and unexpected. In his site-specific, immersive installations, he enhances the transformation of materials by ensuring that the objects interact and engage with one another in a subtle narrative. He creates a landscape where the natural engages with the conceptual and the artificial in an unexpected yet visually compelling game involving sight, perception, and preconception.
Since 2009, images and narratives have appeared less often in Wang Zhongjie’s paintings. Over the course of two years, he gradually removed layer after layer of excess information. After pain and doubt, his paintings have become more abstract and he has turned them into the meeting point of pure substance and elusive visions. Light plays a key role in these abstractions; it dominates the canvases by becoming and embodying the landscape itself.