We find ourselves in a period of the world’s history where one worldwide crisis seems to be replaced by the next immediately. From war to climate crisis, on to a pandemic with unprecedented range and consequences, and back to war again. A constantly challenged world community, whose consequential events are presented and conveyed by more or less trustworthy media outlets and public figures with personal agendas, makes it more difficult than ever for the individual to sort through wrong and right and form independent opinions.
In Contemporary Perspectives, Jiannan Wu has invited two of his Chinese artist colleagues, Jingyi Wang and Zhou Chen, who, like himself, explore contemporary issues relating to identity in the modern, globalized, and industrialized society.
In the exhibition, Jiannan Wu is presenting five new relief sculptures. The work “Feb. News” examines the authenticity and questionable neutrality of the unstoppable news feed we´re all witnessing right now. As an international artist living in both China and the United States Jiannan Wu is a firsthand witness as to how news media in both countries are using political, economic, and ideological beliefs as tools of propaganda to sway and influence the country’s citizens and at the same time spread fear and uncertainty that we mistakenly thought belonged to the past. The result of these mechanisms is that the same events are presented in vastly different ways by the media in the two countries, and the other country is more often than not portrayed in a negative light. The relief sculpture exemplifies how the effect of global events can be purposefully exaggerated, distorted, or ignored, and how these techniques are used to mislead a country’s inhabitants by only letting them see what the government or media wants them to see.
There are also works in Jiannan Wu’s newest collection of relief sculptures that tell more intimate and personal stories. The sculpture “Adolescence” presents a story about family relations in Jiannan’s own formative years. Centrally in the relief Jiannan Wu has portrayed himself as an adolescent, on the left and right side are representations of his mother’s and father’s different heritages and family dynamics. The young artist in the center of the rectangular relief sculpture doesn’t belong to either side, which conveys an unmistakable sensation of loneliness and intimacy. Even though the relief sculpture tells a very specific and personal story, it still succeeds in conveying universal feelings of being caught in the middle of two radically different sides who are both trying to pull the individual in their direction which leaves the individual in a crisis of identity.
Just like Jiannan Wu, Jingyi Wang is a graduate of our long-time collaborative partners across the Atlantic, the New York Academy of Art. Inspired by her own observations and perceptions, Jingyi Wang’s paintings take focus on the relationship between culture and nature. Through colorful and playful portraits of anthropomorphic cacti, inhabiting dreamlike spaces, an inevitable duality between the sharp and the fragile, the serious and the light-hearted is revealed. These cacti-humans represent the biological and psychological aspects of life in a way that approaches the subtle and intimate intersubjectivity of humankind. With her paintings, Jingyi Wang wishes to create a connection between the human body and nature, which in return will offer the opportunity for dialogue and collaboration between the two.
Nature plays a very significant role in the paintings of Jingyi Wang and is always the overarching context. The cacti featured in much of her work symbolize her own feelings and worldview which are both heavily influenced by nervousness and helplessness regarding the constantly worsened climate of our world caused by the contemporary lifestyle and governments’ widespread indifference to the issue. This relationship between mankind and Earth, and the debate that it’s causing, should, according to Jingyi Wang, always have a significant role because respect for nature is the same as respect for mankind itself. The pandemic that has affected us all greatly has only heightened the importance of this debate by emphasizing our dependence on nature and making our own delicateness clearer than ever, but the war we are now in the middle of, take up the majority of the attention of individuals and the news feed and the focus on climate change is suddenly no more than a side note. Jingyi’s art acts as a crucial reminder of an ongoing crisis that must not be ignored.
The subject matter in Zhou Chen’s landscape paintings is inspired by the untouched, desolate, and barren but incredibly beautiful nature and rich history and culture of northwestern China. Removed from the unstoppable noise, stress, and impressions of contemporary society, the unending grasslands, snow-covered mountain tops, and the star-filled night sky have the sole opportunity to claim the viewer´s attention and, in return, offer a cleansing, almost spiritual experience where there is no attempt influence the individual in one direction or another as the case is in our information technology and media controlled daily lives. Through his works, which all portray a vast but quiet landscape, Zhou Chen wishes to convey grand and eye-opening experiences in nature. At the same time, the landscape paintings convey the enormous dissimilarities between different cultures of the world and for this reason, play a significant role in demystifying and increasing understanding across natural borders.
Zhou Chen’s painting “Follow Light” depicts a lone cross placed on top of a grass-clad hill with a dynamic and colorful twilight sky weighing down on the landscape. This scene expresses the sublimity of the wild nature in this area of China, completely empty of people. To convey these feelings, Zhou Chen has chosen tempera as his preferred medium. The characteristics of this specific technique are especially compatible with the presented themes and gives Zhou Chen the opportunity to reinforce his project and to “weave” his inner world layer by layer.
The three-person exhibition opens Saturday, March 12, 12 – 4 PM at Gallery Poulsen, Staldgade 32, Copenhagen V.
The exhibition presents oil and tempera paintings and relief sculptures in resin and acrylic paint
Please contact the gallery at [email protected] or tel. + 45 33 33 93 96 for more info
Contemporary Perspectives - Jiannan Wu Invitational
12.03.2022 – 09.04.2022
Opening reception Saturday, March 12, 12 – 4 PM, Staldgade 32, Copenhagen V