In Between Lines
Infinite Divisibility is Qian Jiahua's debut solo where her canvases slow vision to a crawl; there is an emphasis on linearity, clarity and balance of composition, reflecting a deliberate attempt to capture perceptual surfaces, adept brushworks and clear colors. Hangzhou-based, Qian Jiahua (b
Infinite Divisibility is Qian Jiahua's debut solo where her canvases slow vision to a crawl; there is an emphasis on linearity, clarity and balance of composition, reflecting a deliberate attempt to capture perceptual surfaces, adept brushworks and clear colors. Hangzhou-based, Qian Jiahua (b.1987, Shanghai) is an emerging artist who graduated from China Academy of Art in 2011. For the exhibition, she has created an engaging dialogue with the gallery space that makes each work ebb and flow. By applying a paint of deep blue to the entire exhibition, she then embellished a thin white line across the walls that correspond to her paintings, fusing the interior (the gallery) and the exterior (the canvases) together; requiring viewers to decide for themselves how spatial delineation and colors can affect perception.
Qian used the phrase "infinite", part of the exhibition title, as a springboard, to address the notion of a pictorial reaction to memory and time. That the exhibition offers a visceral mapping of her relationship to personal idioms, translated into visual imagery, which can perhaps be understood as an instinctual reflection to an immersive experience.
Colour is Qian's emotional key, and not surprising, her use of it is both considered and utterly subjective. As the artist has explained, each canvas consists of multiple layers of shapes and hues that coalesce into the final, pared forms, "By adding colors layer upon layer and then 'polishing' it, unexpected ideas would come up during the process and find its way in the final work." Through the integration of dimensional structure against an expressionistic palette that governs most of her paintings, the artist meticulously depicts the momentary states and the clues of development within her inner realm in the form of lines and planes, angular layouts in flat rendered blocks.
Balance and harmony also preoccupied the artist. Attested to her engaging use of symmetry, exacting treatment of colour relationships and subtle backgrounds, Jiahua plays with the bold matrix of scale, balancing the grand and the diminutive until they become equivalent compositional values. Her works fascinate and reveal with a certain optical consistency while playing gently with our understanding of painterliness through her minimal abstractions. Taken together, the compositions create a striking sense of visual order. The result is an exuberant conflation.
If I think of the words employed to designate the principal sensation of her work, it is a language often given over to singular, even frontal states of reception: 'rhythm', 'orchestration', 'constellation', 'tone', 'pulsation'. Qian's paintings are the products of various complex procedures. On one hand, they are simply planes and lines, one facet of her undeniable skill, particularly in terms of the controlled and methodical way she handles her medium. In addition, the artist attempts to work with the idea of pitching her rhythmic patterns as an intermediary in which to meld the organic and the geometric, associated with "my feelings and perception of time". She makes works that fuse memory and desire, through the matter of paint and gesture, subtly delineates her memories and the developmental process within the artist's self with adequate reverence. In a rather stable and tranquil manner, the paintings are able to accommodate a lingering eye working its way across the surface of the canvas, as it might appraise a person, taking in gesture and movement.
This exhibition has presented the evolution of her painting series from the earlier stages to the recent. Upon the duration of a year in creation, instead of presetting certain themes, she'd rather 'determine to make the oeuvre in accordance with her rickety fantasies through overlapping ways without time limits.' The artist has transgressed the boundaries of 'abstraction', realizing self-transcendence by the simplification and the flattening of personal emotions through the gradual elimination of objective representation. As Qian situates her paintings snugly within the exhibition, Lines that surround many of her motifs are extensions evoking a sense of mobility and also the connecting passage linking these artworks together through which the viewers are encouraged to interact with them, using senses other than sight to help experiences the surfaces in terms of more than their delineation. The rectangle-shaped gallery space could be seen as a perimeter of 'lines', and the works within it could be recognized as 'time nodes', as Qian has titled her paintings in accordance to hours and minutes. The artist has furthered arranged the paintings in different groupings; there are diptychs, a groups of 5 small canvases, and standalone pieces. Thoughtfully spaced throughout, the immediate impression is strengthened through dialogue of the works with each other, as colour pairings and notable forms recur. She offers the viewer not only challenging ideas about the nature of painting, but greater visual inducement to expand the conjunction between bordering the acts of reading a painting and of seeing it.
Qian explores various options with the lines in her paintings. Lines that appear as borders and windows; lines that demarcates section of colours; lines as loose threads; the thin and thick lines airy and deliberate or sparse and disruptive. They are set against backgrounds of a palette of only a few primary hues – basic shades of red, yellow, green and off-white. As you immerse into the compositional space of the paintings, some have extremely simple surfaces, blending washes of paint that either conforms to each other a certain level of sobriety or in contrasting colorful moods. While there are also paintings that assume a more complex posture, with many borders and lines, sloping in assorted directions. In 24:25, for example, the colours are submitted to a rigid system of mainly blocks of rich yellows juxtaposed against two long vertical rectangular areas of maroon and slate grey rendered, respectively, on the borders of the canvas. Then there are the distinctive sloping lines that draw you in as if the exuberant surface is evidence of the artist's visual formation of a state of equilibrium and balance achieved.There are also the larger paintings that exist as syncopated configuration of interlocking squares and rectangles. In short, they are portrayed as enclosures-within-enclosures; the effect is one of an embedded uniformity, a framed windowed effect by means of detailed sparseness rather than density.
Few debut solo by a young artist drawn from a single series can hope to have the depth and impact of this fruitful presentation, Qian's works provide plenty of occasions to let your gaze swing between immersion and deflection insofar as they are not only clear and bright, but also tremendously dynamic. In this regard the paintings assemble their resolve out of a complex passage of reception and which defy over hasty generalization. I'm inclined to say that this is work which is confident of drawing upon combinations of formality and sensation, structural clarity and intuitive insight, in ways that produce an art confident of its own persuasive presence.