"Time" Liu Ren Solo Exhibition
City: Shanghai
Duration: 2018-09-08 ~ 2018-10-21
Opening: 4 – 7 pm, 8 September 2018
Venue: Don Gallery
Address: Unit 302, 2879 Longteng Avenue, Shanghai
Participating Artist(s): Liu Ren

LIU Ren’s third solo exhibition at Don Gallery features his most recent series of “straw-paper-brick-paintings,” in which he develops a profound understanding of portraying literary, historic, philosophical themes with polemical essences and poetic nuances.

Over the last ten years, LIU has mined the archives of English vocabularies mapped with dictionary meanings, Chinese classical poems on views of life and death, significant news stories and social media posts in the recent period for paintings on straw paper. Easily consumed or utterly forgotten though they might be in the immediate present, such contents and messages are capable of becoming conscious when petrified by the harsh stream of time. The artist underlies the tension through a harmonious merger between “softness” and “hardness” by giving new form to straw paper. The images and texts infiltrating the abject material thus operate at multiple levels, invoking imagination, technology and desire as the locus of both our impulses and anxieties of being.

Compressed into compact structures, either deliciously thick as stacks of books with rough edges, or gently crumpled as fibres of rags with embossed patterns, the sheets of straw paper alter its behaviour of being discarded in a toilet yet encounter the technique of mounting Chinese paintings. The process, which involves completely soaking the paper in water and carefully overlaying one on top of another, reinforces the quality texture as “painted bricks” or “brick paintings,” the traditional genre depicting events and figures, myths and legends to measure the moral and ethical capacity of the subject. LIU fosters his reflection upon the accelerating transformation of human society on the “straw-paper-bricks,” asserting himself as the pictorial historiographer of our time.

In the exhibition entitled “Time,” LIU refers to Charles Dickens’ famous saying in A Tale of Two Cities (1859)—“It was the best of times ⁄ it was the age of wisdom ⁄ it was the epoch of belief ⁄ it was the season of Light ⁄ it was the spring of hope ⁄ we had everything before us ⁄ we were all going direct to Heaven.” Having it recontextualised as the cover of Time magazine with the widespread slogan of China’s economic reform “Time is Money, Efficacy is life” as its caption, he employs the method of “superposition” to access the hermeneutic and critical dimensions of the flamboyant era in relation to the realities of the modern country.

LIU Ren (b. 1983) graduated from Department of Printmaking, Fine Art College of Shanghai University (2007), currently living and working in Shanghai. LIU’s practice mainly involves painting, sculpture and installation. He so often draws inspirations from the mundane materials in which the integrated perceptions and textual analytics are concealed under the guise of clean, neat and orderly forms. He attends to the passage of time, the consumption of life and the state of being, and all sorts of fragmented information. LIU’s work has been presented by Yuz Museum (Shanghai, 2017), chi K11 art museum (Shanghai, 2016), Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum (Shanghai, 2016), Shanghai 21st Century Minsheng Art Museum (Shanghai, 2015), CAFA Art Museum (Beijing, 2015), Shanghai Himalayas Museum (Shanghai, 2014), etc. His solo exhibitions include “Spring, River, Flowers, Moon, Night” (Don Gallery, Shanghai, 2014), “Filtrate” (White Space Beijing, Beijing, 2013), “Merciful” (White Space Beijing, Beijing, 2011), “2008102020091112..8:35…” (Don Gallery, Shanghai, 2009), etc.


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[Editor] 张艳