From Pets to Animals

From Pets to Animals
—— Li Ji’s animal painting and photography

By Luo Fei

Li Ji was known by the art world in the1990s and early 2000 for his series “Ladies and Pets”, which depicted some well-dressed ladies with different animals, implying a delicate interdependent relationship between them. This series is slightly erotic, humorous and yuppie. The ladies and pets in these photos are not actually themselves but roles being shaped by some kind of culture. Besides, since either ladies or pets have been carefully domesticated by their “masters”, they know not only how to please their “masters”, but also how to show their soft and tamed side. However, their “masters” are not in these paintings, because what indeed tame the women to sexy ladies and animals to pets are invisible but ubiquitous consumerism, patriarchalism and anthropocentrism.

For Chinese contemporary art in the 1990’s, the artists were generally vigilant, or could be said as having not yet adapted, to the rise of consumer society, hence they usually expressed severe criticism to the human alienation and physical materialization in the consumer society. Similarly, the world revolved around patriarchal society and anthropocentrism reached its domination and possession by the materialization of women and animals.

Li Ji revealed in this series not only his interest and thoughts about people – the “ladies”, but also his knowledge and extraordinary love to animals – the “pets”. Grown up in a family of intellectuals, Li Ji has shown a strong curiosity about all kinds of knowledge since young especially in biology. He is even more familiar with his mother’s books than herself. His interest in the living conditions of animals around the world is so strong that he always dreams of going to Africa to see the wildlife.

Li Ji started his wildlife discovery in 2009, when he just completed the “Ladies and Pets” series and then photographed wild animals while visiting national parks and nature reserves with his wife in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and other domestic places like Yunnan, Tibet, Qinghai, Hoh Xil and so on. In every trip he would return with countless adventurous stories and fantastic wildlife photos, even though he has encountered with the danger of life and death several times.

As an artist, Li Ji responds to the rapid disappearance of wildlife in the world with the conventional means in visual art. From 2009 to 2011, he painted a series of modified masterpieces of Western art history, such as Miller’s “Late Prayer”, Goya’s “May 3rd, 1808 Nightmare” and Manet’s “Lunch on the Grass”, turning these human’s godliness, gallantry and livelihood into a denouncement to the tragedies of the large-scale massacre mankind implemented on wildlife. In this series, by misappropriation and codification to the masterpieces in art history, Li Ji responded to the world’s classic contradictions: Does human develop and evolve at the cost of eliminating animals (especially large animals) ? Furthermore, will this irresponsible and insatiable destruction of anthropocentrism be the final call of mankind in world history? In contrast to his critique of consumerism in the ” Ladies and Pets ” series, the critics and allegories of anthropocentrism are simpler in painting style but are filled with deep compassion.

Artists tell the story of world history with the story of art history. It is interesting that it is the artist – we – this group of Homo sapiens who have the ability to tell the stories, and turn these imaginative things such as art, justice, history ultimately into the common values and social norms. In the view of researchers of contemporary human history, it is precisely because of such a “cultural evolution” about the “cognitive revolution” that begun 70,000 to 30,000 years ago, making Homo sapiens on the road of “gene evolution” leave the animals far behind, and thus began to rule the animals.

In the 18th century, one of the four pioneers of the French enlightenment, Buffon assumed: “Human domination of animals is a lawful rule that can not be destroyed by any revolution. Which is not only a natural right, a power based on some eternal principles … people have thought, so he becomes the master of all creatures without thought at all. “A the same time, aware of the animal’s misfortune: “Let the animals feel uneasy and fearful, let them flee, let them become more wild than the nature is human, because most of the animals are only calm, safe, controllably and unharmfully breathe the air, eat the food on the ground. “(Quoted from Buffon ” Natural History “).

However, the glory of human nature after the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the revolution in science and technology, the expansion of Homo sapiens in the world may have long been not only to disturb the animals but also the earth, including human beings themselves. Of course, from the history of the evolution of the world, the mass extinction of animals did not begin in any campaign in the past two or three hundred years, but began 70,000 years ago with the birth of Homo sapiens. Only the industrial revolution exacerbated the extinction of species, not just terrestrial creatures, but also marine life. So, for those who live today, to record and describe the animals who are expelled by human and are still disappearing, means personal comfort or self-examination and change in human’s own crisis?

In recent years, through trips in the wild nature, Li Ji has photographed the hovering buzzard in the sky, vulture, long tail lobular monkey playing in the jungle, vigilant leopard on the road, brown bears foraging in rubbish, the rare Bengal tiger。。。As Yuval Noah Harari, a contemporary Israeli historian, wrote in his book, A Brief History of Humankind: “From ancient times to the present, the whole animal community has suffered the most important and most damaging power from this group of homo sapiens wandering around and telling the story”. But in Li’s painting and photography, wandering around is no longer the story telling people, but the animals constantly on the alert of people.

Since 2012, Li Ji has created a number of paintings of single small wildlife in the studio, such as African spotted hyena, black-backed jackal, Asian jungle cat and Cambodian bison. These animal images are mainly derived from Li Ji’s own photos or related books, as he tries to avoid the dramatic sense that normally presented in this kind of pictures, to show their daily lives instead. Owing to his understanding of animal habits and physical structures that learnt since his childhood, his modeling ability built up in academic studies, and ability to capture the decisive moments in photography, Li Ji is good at epitomizing and capturing the shapes of different species of animals vividly and accurately, supplemented by some lines and colors, so that these animals are more dynamic and expressive, while maintaining their natural beauty.

As an artist, Li Ji also regards his painting in this stage as an exploration of “return to painting”, which could be interpreted as a balance to the excessive conceptualism in contemporary art world. This idea of returning to media has been expressed by more and more artists in recent years not just in painting, but also in other media such as performance art. Li Ji, however, did not return to the formalism painting which abandoned meaning and cultural functions. He was exploring another possibility of expression contemporary painting.

In the West, ecological criticism has become an urgent proposition both in the field of cultural studies and contemporary art since the 1980s, for people realized that art can not be simply appreciated without common life scenes and cultural connotations. By ecological and ethical criticism, artists, curators and critics re-examine the increasing desertification, and the conflict among natural deterioration, drastic animal extinction and human invasion. Today, this kind of environmental-oriented scrutiny and criticism has become a global theme in contemporary art. In this sense, Li Ji’s animal photography and paintings will provide the most basic textual support for ecological art.

Nowadays, the animals hanging around us are neither domesticated animals nor objectified animals being consumed in “Ladies and Pets”. They wander, forage, seek for a home and try to live together with mankind. At this moment, what are we searching for?

Jun. 16th, 2017

FROM PETS TO ANIMALS – Li Ji Solo Exhibition
2017.07.08 – 08.26 / 10:00 – 18:00
ANART OFOTO Gallery
​2F, Building 13, 50 Moganshan Rd., Shanghai, China

Painting Makes the Soul Visible

Painting Makes the Soul Visible (excerpt)
Essay on Bai Xuejuan’s Art
-By Luo Fei

On a number of palm sized notebooks, a great many variety of colorful patterns filled the pages. There appear to be some traces of natural growth. One of the covers reads: I’m afraid of waking up, for the dream would be gone. The one who didn’t want to wake up from her dream is Bai Xuejuan, a painter from Yunnan and is now living in Gejiu, a small city in southern China only about 200 kilometers away from Vietnam. She’s a high school teacher there. However, she’s been painting about Nordic islands in recent years: places where human beings are few, forests deep, and iced rivers flowing.

This is due to the residence program that Bai joined in the Nordic Watercolor Museum between February and April 2011 in Sweden. For this three months program on Tjörn, she witnessed how the ice melted in Scandinavia, and the rigid winter changed to the warm early spring. She spent these whole three months in her cabin next to the Pacific. Two diaries were jotted down and countless watercolors painted. And only a few new friends visited her occasionally. The minimalism manifested naturally around her in Northern Europe began to fascinate her. Even back to the mountains of Yunnan, those images related to the Tjörn kept coming back to appear on her paintings. I can feel the characteristic transparency unique to the Nordic in both her watercolors and oil paintings, light and thin, loose and soft. The free-flowing in her paintings is reminiscent of Edvard Munch. Just that one doesn’t sense the desperate darkness, but the bright and poetic flowing.

For Bai Xuejuan, cultural collision and blending are external and concrete, and she does not study art as a cultural matter. When it comes to art, by following the experience deep inside of her heart, she’s been continuously recording like diaries the trajectory of her inner feedback on life, surroundings and her own feelings. She captured in her paintings those moments like cruising the sea, walking in the night or strolling aimlessly. Those are the times that the burden of reality was kept at a distance, and the ones for thoughts and drifting away. To drift is both for the soul to breathe and to escape.

Rather than delving into the texture of a particular piece of leaves or a stone on the ground, Bai does not regard the world as a stable substance, but a series of flowing, breathable and free forms. Going up and down, they are plain and simple, yet grow like a poetry. They are as free as if one falls into a trance. At this very moment, painting makes the soul visible.

Multiple Adaptations: from Poem to Poem, from Poem to Visual Art

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Multiple Adaptations: from Poem to Poem, from Poem to Visual Art

The Amsterdams Grafisch Atelier and TCG Nordica, an art center in Kunming (China) joined forces in a transnational project that, focuses on the interrelation between text and image, specifically between Dutch and Chinese poetry in translation and art works inspired by them.
Six Chinese participants based their paintings and drawings on poems by H.H. ter Balkt , Hans Faverey, Chr.J. van Geel, Gerrit Kouwenaar, M. Vasalis and Ellen Warmond, translated into Chinese by Maghiel van Crevel and Ma Gaoming. Each of the six poems are enigmatic texts full of paradoxes and opaque meanings, that present an enormous challenge to the translator, at the same time providing the visual interpreter with ample space for a non-illustrative approach.
Six Dutch printmaker/artists produced monumental prints inspired by poems of the famous contemporary Chinese poet, author, and filmmaker Yu Jian. “Staunchly unlyrical” and making his readers “see eternity in the most everyday and unexpected places” (Simon Patton), Yu Jian’s poems present their visual interpreters with the equal challenge of tuning into the foreign voice, searching for affinities, and keeping their own idiosyncratic vision.
To facilitate comparison and analysis, all works are shown jointly with the texts that are printed on banners, forming thus an integral part of the exhibition. Both partners of the project stress the performative nature of the project by reading and performing the poetry at the opening and in separate programs.
The initiative for the exchange came from Ursula Neubauer, an Amsterdam artist who had visited Kunming in the fall of 2012. The project has been worked out and coordinated jointly by Luo Fei, former director of TCG Nordica and Ursula Neubauer, representing the Amsterdams Grafisch Atelier.
The event in Kunming took place, with great success, at the gallery of TCG Nordica between April 24-May 31, 2015.
See: http://en.tcgnordica.com/2015/multiple-adaptations

In Amsterdam the project will be presented at SBK KNSM/ Bagagehal
from October 18 through November 1, 2015.
The opening will include a performance. Speakers and readers are Kristien van den Oever, director of the Amsterdams Grafisch Atelier, Yi Lai, Chinese poet and literary scholar at the (Central China Normal University, Wuhan). G.W.Sok, singer and poet and Christianne Rugl Communication Manager. Performance artist Nienke Dekker will interpret two 2 poems of the exhibition.
Sunday November 1 at 3 p.m. a closing music program, from poem to visual art to music by The And.

Perdu, centre for poetry and experiment, will present a related program on October 21. The participants of the panel discussion are Yi Lai, Maartje Smits and Sofie Sun.
The participating artists are: Ning Zhi, Chen Fanyuan, Su Yabi, He Libin, Su Jiaxi, Chang Xiong, Herma Deenen, Christina Hallström, Ursula Neubauer, Naan Rijks, Angelique van Wesemael, and Masha Trebukova

Opening of the exhibition: October 18, from 3 to 6 p.m.
SBK/Bagagehal
Address: KNSM-laan 307-309, 1019 LE Amsterdam
Tel: +31 20-620 13 21 email: amsterdamknsm@sbk.nl
Open on Tue thru Fri: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sat.Za/Sun. from 11a.m. to 6 p.m.
Reachable by tram #10, end stop Azartplein, by bus #48 from Sloterdijk Station and Central Station, by bus 65 from stations Zuid and Amstel.

For further information: www.multipleadaptations.blogspot.com

多重编译——从诗歌到诗歌 从诗歌到视觉艺术

多重编译——从诗歌到诗歌 从诗歌到视觉艺术(TCG诺地卡2015·荷兰—中国诗歌与艺术交流项目)

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项目背景介绍:

这个项目是由6位昆明TCG诺地卡文化中心推荐的中国艺术家和6位来自阿姆斯特丹AGA版画工作室的艺术家、版画家共同结合诗歌朗诵和以诗歌为创作灵感的艺术展览构成。

此次活动的发起源于厄休拉•纽鲍尔于2012年11月的时候拜访了TCG诺地卡文化中心。TCG诺地卡所举办的活动涉猎范围之广泛且所涉及的艺术家均为当地出色的艺术家,给当时来昆明的她留下了深刻印象。TCG诺地卡地处昆明一个老厂房内,并且具有强烈的社区精神。透过艺术展览、电影、诗歌朗诵、戏剧、舞蹈和咖啡,TCG诺地卡展示了非常丰富的文化。阿姆斯特丹AGA版画工作室并不像普通的机构,它有活力且充满创新,对于TCG诺地卡而言是一个很好的伙伴,这给双边驻地艺术家的生活、工作空间注入了新能量,与此同时吸引了很多国际艺术家和实习生来这里工作。
厄休拉•纽鲍尔最初的动力源于对远方文化的好奇心,因此组织了这个长期的交流项目,她相信通过这个联合策划项目来扩宽彼此的眼界和在更大语境里的挑战。她和所有参与者分享了这个灵感来源,尤其是与来自TCG诺地卡的艺术总监、策展人、艺术家罗菲先生分享后,这个灵感最终得到实现。

该项目的理念在双方的共同努力下产生,基本想法是每一个诗歌的译本与来自其他国家的艺术作品相关联。读者、观众和听众会呈现出一个多维和表演性的展览,将诗歌印刷在较大的横幅上,也是展览的一部分。在展览开幕时,艺术家、诗人们会以中文、英文或荷兰语朗诵诗歌。诗歌的讨论、编写、翻译也包含在此次展览中。荷兰AGA的艺术家听取了罗菲的建议,他们的工作主要聚焦在中国知名诗人、纪录片工作者——于坚先生的作品上。荷兰的艺术家将根据于坚的诗歌在纸上或布上创作最新的版画作品。中国昆明的艺术家则根据柯雷(M.van Crevel)翻译成中文的《荷兰现代诗选》选取了瓦萨利斯、戴尔波克、高文纳尔、凡•黑尔、瓦尔蒙特和法弗利等6位荷兰现代诗人的诗歌进行绘画创作。

这个项目最初的设想是中国与荷兰的艺术家用各自的艺术作品来阐释对方国家的诗歌,借此方法向读者、观众及听众展示一个具有全方位、多维度体验的展览。所涉及诗歌将与艺术作品共同展出。展览开幕式上我们还邀请到了于坚先生来朗读他的诗歌,同时云南本土青年行为艺术家们将根据于坚的诗歌展开的精彩表演。

此次“多重编译:从诗歌到诗歌、从诗歌到视觉艺术”项目的昆明部分将分作三场与本地观众分享,第一场是2015年4月24日晚8点的“于坚诗歌实验表演朗读现场 暨 展览开幕酒会”,第二场是4月25日晚8点的“诗•歌——从诗歌到音乐 现场音乐会”,第三场是4月26日下午2点半的“品读才女张爱玲”品汇人生读书会及相关品鉴活动。

此项目展览也将于今年秋季在荷兰阿姆斯特丹展开。

项目发起人:厄休拉•纽鲍尔(荷兰AGA版画工作室)
项目组织人:罗菲(中国TCG诺地卡文化中心)
中国艺术家:常雄、陈梵元、和丽斌、宁智、苏家喜、苏亚碧
荷兰艺术家:安琪莉可•威斯迈(Angelique van Wesemael)、克里斯蒂娜•霍尔斯道姆(Christina Hallström)、赫尔曼•德伦(Herma Deenen)、玛莎•特布库娃(Masha Trebukova)、纳安•瑞杰科斯(Naan Rijks)、厄休拉•纽鲍尔(Ursula Neubauer)
项目执行小组:梁译丹、何凝一、张清、刘黎雅(瑞典)
平面设计:张清
联合主办:中国•TCG诺地卡文化中心、荷兰•阿姆斯特丹AGA版画工作室
项目支持:荷兰王国大使馆

展览开放时间:2015年4月24日至5月31日,12:00—20:30(周日闭馆)
地址:昆明市西山区西坝路101号(永乐路60号)创库艺术主题社区内,TCG诺地卡画廊
搭乘公交提示:乘4路、62路、93路、106路、120路、184路乙线至安康路站下车,沿永乐路步行300米
电话:0871-64114692,64114691
微信公众号:TCG诺地卡文化中心

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第一场:2015年4月24日(周五)晚8点

于坚诗歌实验表演朗读现场 暨 展览开幕酒会

关键词:诗歌、画展、于坚、行为艺术、跨界混搭

策划:罗菲

特邀诗人:于坚

行为表演/诗歌朗读:
黄越君
杨辉
赫尔曼•德伦(荷兰)
“阿里巴巴他哥”和张紫韵(野狗芳芳、村长!冲浪吧、张紫韵)
九坑艺术小组(蒋明辉、吴若木、杨雄盛、董雪莹、桑田、叶其霖)
和丽斌 + 云南艺术学院美术学院新表现工作室(赵伟家、王敏姣、王珏琳、刘晓东、李斌红、腾锐妍、黄朝玉、杨蕊菱) + 陈金诚

语言:中文、英文、荷兰语

免费进场

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第二场:2015年4月25日(周六)晚8点

诗•歌——从诗歌到音乐 现场音乐会

关键词:诗歌、音乐会、合唱、特朗斯特罗姆、莎士比亚、苏轼

现场演唱托马斯•特朗斯特罗姆(瑞典)、威廉•莎士比亚(英国)、艾米莉•狄更生(美国)、苏轼(宋•中国)以及张若虚(唐•中国)等古今中外文学大师的11首经典诗歌名曲。

演职人员:刘黎雅(瑞典)、刘约翰(瑞典)、艾丽莎(瑞典)、麦小芬(瑞典)、彭耀龙(美国)、金小韵(中国)、张羽(中国)、TCG诺地卡合唱团(中国)、郑薇佳(中国)

语言:中文、英文、瑞典语、德语

门票:40元(预售)、50元(现场)

订票方式:微信及电话订票

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第三场:2015年4月26日(周日)下午2点半

“品读才女张爱玲” 品汇人生读书会

关键词:张爱玲、读书会、人生、民国范儿

导读:宋风英(昆明学院中文系教授)

古筝:张羽

相关精彩活动:画展与诗歌品鉴、民乐欣赏、舞蹈欣赏、诗歌朗读

着装建议:中式正装(旗袍,唐装,汉服等)

语言:中文

入场:30元

座位有限,须提前报名预定,订票方式:关注“TCG诺地卡文化中心”微信公众号发送消息预定,或手机短信至倪先生13008688624预定

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Multiple Adaptations: from Poem to Poem, from Poem to Visual Art

(Chinese-Netherlands Art and Poetry Exchange Project)

Project Background

The project consists of an art exhibition based on poetry and accompanied by poetry readings. The participants are six Chinese artists working with the TCG Nordica, a Kunming art center with strong ties to Scandinavia and six Amsterdam artist/printmakers from the Amsterdams Grafisch Atelier (AGA).

The initiative came from Ursula Neubauer, a longtime member of AGA, who had visited Nordica in November 2012 and met there its artistic director Luo Fei. She found the quality of the Kunming artists and the broad spectrum of activities at the art center very impressive. Nordica, located in an old factory building, radiates a strong communal spirit. It shares the riches of culture with a wide range of visitors via exhibitions, cinema, poetry readings, theater, dance, and a café. AGA is an excellent counterpart to Nordica, for it is vibrant and innovative, with two living/working spaces for artists-in-residence which attract many international artists and interns to work there.
Ursula Neubauer’s prime motivation to organize this long-term project is curiosity about a distant culture, belief in joint projects that expand one’s horizon, and challenge to work in a larger context. She shares these motivations with all the participants, especially Luo Fei, artist, curator and artistic director of Nordica.

The concept of the project was worked out in a joint effort of both sides. The basic idea is that each individual artist correlates a translated poem from the other country with his or her art work. The readers, viewers, and listeners will thus be presented with a multidimensional and performative exhibition: The poems will be printed or written on long banners, as integral part of the exhibition. At the opening of the exhibition they will be recited in Chinese, English, and possibly Dutch. Discussions on poetry and adaptations/ translations could be included in the event. The AGA artists have followed the suggestion of Luo Fei to focus their work on poems by Yu Jian, a well-recognized poet and documentary filmmaker from Kunming, whose works have been translated into many languages. The Dutch artists will present large innovative prints on paper or fabric. The Kunming artists are free in their choice of medium with the exclusion of three dimensional works. They chose their poems from the volume ‘Moderne Nederlandse Poëzie’ translated into Chinese by M.van Crevel.

The project will be presented in Amsterdam and Kunming.

Initiator: Ursula Neubauer (AGA in Amsterdam)

Organizer: Luo Fei (TCG Nordica in Kunming)

Dutch Artists: Angelique van Wesemael, Christina Hallström, Herma Deenen, Masha Trebukova, Naan Rijks, Ursula Neubauer

Chinese Artists: Chang Xiong, Chen Fanyuan, He Libin, Ning Zhi, Su Jiaxi , Su Yabi

Project Execution Team in Kunming: Adam Zhang, Cornelia Newman (SW), Liang Yidan, River He

Graphic Design: Adam Zhang

Co-organized by TCG Nordica Culture Center and Het Amsterdam Grafisch Atelier

Project Sponsor: Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Exhibition Opening Time: 12:00—20:30, Sundays Close, April 24th to May 31st 2015

Venue: TCG Nordica Culture Center, Chuangku, Xiba Lu 101 (Longle Lu 60), Kunming city

Bus: No. 4, 62, 93, 106, 120, 184乙线, Ankang Lu Bus Station, walk along on Yongle Lu for 300 meters.

Tel: 0871-64114692, 64114691

WeChat: tcgnordica

SECTION ONE: 20:00, Fri, April 24th 2015

Opening Reception and Experimental Poetry Reading Performance on Yu Jian’s Poems

Key Words: Poetry, Exhibition, Yu Jian, Performance Art, Crossover Practice

Curator: Luo Fei
Honored Guest Poet: Yu Jian
Performance Artists/The Readers:
Huang Yuejun
Yang Hui
Herma Deenen (NL)
Alibaba’s Brother and Zhang Ziyun (Wild Dog Fang Fang + Go Surfing Village head! + Zhang Ziyun)
Nine Pit Group (Jiang Minghui, Wu Ruomu, Yang Xiongsheng, Dong Xueying, Sang Tian, Ye Qilin)
He Libin + NEW EXPRESSION Studio of Yunnan Arts University (Zhao Weijia, Wang Minjiao, Wang Yulin, Liu Xiaodong, Li Binhong, Teng Ruiyan, Huang Chaoyu, Yang Ruiling) + Chen Jincheng
Language: Chinese, English, Dutch
Free Entrance

SECTION TWO: 20:00, Sat, April 25th 2015

“From Poetry to Music” Live Concert

Key Words: Poetry, Concert, Choir, Tranströmer, Shakespeare, Su Shi

Poems from Tomas Tranströmer (Sweden), William Shakespeare (England), Emily Dickinson (US), Su Shi (Song Dynasty, China), Zhang Ruoxu (Tang Dynasty, China) and more…

Musicians: Cornelia Newman (Sweden), Johan Newman (Sweden), Lisa Eriksson (Sweden), Stephanie MacMullin (Sweden), Michael Peng (US), Jin Xiaoyun (China), Zhang Yu (China), Zheng Weijia (China), TCG Nordica Open Choir (China)

Ticket: 40RMB(In Advance), 50RMB(In Door)

Language: Chinese, English, Swedish, German

Ticket Booking: Sending message to TCG Nordica’s WeChat “tcgnordica” or Call: 0871-64114692, 64114691

SECTION THREE: 14:00, Sun, April 26th 2015

Theme: Reading a Talented Woman Zhang Ailing

Key Words: Zhang Ailing, Book Club, Life, Fan of the republic of China

The Guest Speaker: Song Fengying (Professor of Chinese literature of Kunming Collage)

Guzheng Player: Sophia

Related Events: Exhibition Guidance, Appreciation of Chinese Ethnic Music, Dance, Poetry Reading

Language: Chinese

Ticket: 30RMB

Require advance booking: Through TCG Nordica’s WeChat, phone call. Or sending SMS to 13008688624

The Poetic World of Everyday Life: The Memory Zone of Su Yabi

suyabi-poster-web

Everyday Poetic Conception: The Memory Zone of Su Yabi

Curator: Luo Fei
Artist: Su Yabi
Art Review: Liao Wen
Artistic Support: Sun Guojuan
Opening Reception: 8pm, Nov 8th 2014
Exhibition Duration: Nov 8th to Dec 3rd 2014
TCG Nordica Gallery, Chuangku, xibalu 101, Kunming
Host by TCG Nordica
Co-sponsor: Fine Art Academy of Dali Collage
Tel: 0871-64114692

The Poetic World of Everyday Life – The Memory Zone of Su Yabi

by Liao Wen

In the summer of 2002, I went to Dali to avoid summer hotness. Guojuan Sun, an artist in Kunming, advised me to visit a girl named Su Yabi , whose paintings are very special. Judging from my common sense, a place named “Xiaguan” must be a natural vital water and land communication line, however when I finally arrived at Xiaguan of Dali after spending several hours on a long-distance bus, I hardly connected the scene in front of me with my former imagination.

In my memory, Xiaguan in those years was just a small town full of a large stretch of messy simple buildings, which appeared extraordinarily higgledy-piggledy scattered in the bright and beautiful Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake.Su Yabi showed me around the small town which she lived in; I habitually mobilized all my senses to feel this new place. With my special curiosity and observation, I often can see something that is invisible to others, but the small town left me was nothing but lack of aesthetic characters. Nothing was eye-catching for me.

At that time, she was a recent college graduate, and was sharing a building of a battery plant with a few young artists to draw in. The building was almost empty with a few crooked cement pillars. The white lime walls peeled off and scattered here and there. Water even lingered in the hollow parts of the uneven cement ground. The security window welded up in scrap metal materials ruthlessly cut the blue sky and white clouds into pieces. Paintings by these young artists were placed against the wall, all in dim colors and without clear dividing lines
To my surprise, this crushed aesthetic system and embarrassing scene looks extraordinarily superb in her paintings. She touched and described the daily things like wardrobes, beds, light bulbs, locks, dresses, scarves, umbrellas, combs, brushes, slippers, brooches from a unique perspective, and also the iron railing through the security window, the pipe, the high tension line, television tower, building, automobile, faucet and other things that were visible from inside to outside, the underwear, tooth mug, thermos, clocks, chairs that could be seen from the outside. They were scattering desultorily in the picture and even the modeling, proportion, color, and position seemed less reasonable (Some were almost floating in the air), but as a whole they were completely enveloped in a fine, soft, simple atmosphere. The tone of her paintings she selected was like faded old photos. Occasionally she also abstemiously used gray monochrome color, which resembled colored old photos. Her style of painting was fuzzy, plane, and carefree, as if she casually touched the petty objects in her memory, letting her feeling flow like mist. It was in mediocre and trivial everyday that she endowed them with a poetic world. She named these works as ‘Everyday Memory’, she said: “I have been recording the moments of my life and the scenes I experienced in a visual way to restore the relaxation and simplicity of their own in limited colors to draw in the canvas”.

Afterwards, she began to weave the day-to-day objects she used to draw repeatedly for many years with a fine flexible metal wire, turning plane brushwork into three-dimensional knit. Knit is the most familiar way to women, for their daily life is closely-related with it; they weave clothes with thread, articles for daily use with bamboo, and love with emotions. Weaving for women is not only a kind of making method, but a way of life. Despite the objects she made with metal wire appeared blank and dazzling as if they were emptied out, the vaguely-outlined objects woven with shiny and burnished metal wires one by one that are tangible and visible are closely-knitted with daily life. I guess these images combining virtual and actual characters are more close to her memory, and weaving is like a spiritual practice, just as she said: “many of my memory can be retrieved”, which are closest to her state of mind.

Actually, whether painting or weaving, for Su Yabi , the relationship between mood and feeling is the same. And some of her works blending with both skills are more exquisite and rich visually and sensuously.

A wave of warmth swept through my heart whenever I enjoyed her works. In a time full of chaotic information and farraginous values, she still keeps a poetic state of mind and curiosity about the most mediocre town and the ordinary daily life. There must be a supernormal beautiful mind filled with fragrance and emotion.

In September 2014 in Songzhuang, Beijing

A Sense of Poetry Emerging in the Everyday

By Luo Fei

In the eyes of many people, art seems to be “useless,” however, as for me, the reason why I hold that art is “useful”, is that the artists open a new window for us, enabling us to see the extraordinary from the ordinary, to see the reality hided in the little trivial daily experiences which is namely the poetic reality. These artworks filled with poetic realities tend to remind people to slow down to reflect the surroundings, and then to give feedback to the heart, then the inner turbulent can be expressed through the specific form such as art.

Spiritual expression is the common concern of some local artists. Through description of the mind and inquiry, the artists transformed from craftsman to the soul watchmen. Su Yabi from Dali is such an artist. She graduated from Yunnan Arts University in 1998, majored in oil painting. Since the university times , she has been fascinated by the everyday things in the room, such as the hairbrushes used dust removals, pins, wardrobes, combs, dresses, dressers and other household items. She, in the form of painting and knitting iron wire, endowed these everyday objects with personal emotion and mind, and wove layers of poetic reality.

As far as I m concerned, the poetic feeling in her painting is a mild sense of drift. The daily things in her pictures show kind of weightless feeling. They impress people with the images slowly drifting and then rising in the air. The dresses seem to be in wonderland, the scarf flood like the tide, the sharpest head of the pins are always reluctant to hide. These items run away from the drawers and closets, which seems to get rid of the restrictions of established order and center to seek more freedom. All these are carried out in a gentle way, even in the form of memory to describe the state of their disobedience. Because in the pictures we always encounter the same items closely related to the deepest memory of the artiest. They struggle for freedom from the institutionalized space lack of imagination. This kind of “fleeing from the reality” is not only a way to show disobedience but also a kind of drifting.

That’s the reason why I said these items are in possession with mind and become the symbols of the states of being. In her art, I saw that people as a being to present the poetic feeling and resist meaningless existence, that human as a being of pursuing freedom and fighting against the fate, that man as a being that go beyond the material world and disobey alienation. At this level, the art, in a seemingly useless way, impacted us to the greatest extent, that is, it ensures man as spiritual being, and by which arouse the same sympathy and strike a responsive chord among people.

Just need to slow down, gaze for a minute, and listen to the heart with her. Then you will feel a sense of poetry emerging in the everyday.

On the night of October 16 2014