Jiannan Wu, COLLISIONS @ Time Arts Gallery (NYC, NY)
Curator: Peter Drake
Academic Support: Min Yang
Nov 24 – Dec 18, 2020
Jiannan Wu’s series “Country Love” is a collection of intricate and intimate relief sculptures made from acrylic paint on polymer clay, wood, resin, metal, and LED lights. Currently on view are 13 of these small-but-mighty works, averaging just 9 inches squared by 3 inches deep. Though these pieces are smaller than the average laptop screen, a viewer could easily get lost in each one for longer than an episode of prime time television, soaking in each and every delightful detail.
Born in 1990 in Dalian, China, artist Jiannan Wu found his way to sculpture through his interest in models and toys. His fondness for his childhood home in the rural northeast brought about this series of tableaus, “Country Love,” highly influenced by a Chinese comedy TV show of the same name. Wu highlights the bucolic scenery and social traditions of the region he grew up in, using recognizable figures from the show to layer in inside jokes specific to northeastern life. But even for those viewers who may not immediately recognize these pop culture references, each one of Wu’s tableaus is still familiar and warm simply due to the detail he’s captured. The black frame that surrounds each clay sculpture denotes a photograph, a snapshot of a moment just barely captured. Looking back on the year of 2020, it’s impossible not to see these sculptures as homage to a past way of life before social distancing, masking, and sanitizing. The moments Wu has chosen to sculpt all feel so personal, like each one is a warm, human hug wrapping the viewer in a pleasant memory – feeling the warm, salty breeze of the coastal air, the smells of grass and outdoor markets, the sound of bicycle spokes turning. Even the pieces without figures in them – a scene of hot, fresh vegetables and meat and buns sprawling across a table, an empty white wicker chair cast in soft light – are reminiscent of the people that will be eating that food, sitting in that chair, filling those spaces with laughter and love. Even without a first-hand experience living the small town life that Wu illustrates for his viewers, every work included in COLLISIONS will inspire longing for a simpler time.
On view for one more week at Time Arts Gallery (178 Bleecker St, 2nd Floor), Jiannan Wu’s COLLISIONS is a must-see for those chasing a feeling of nostalgia. Gallery hours are Sat-Sun, 11am – 6pm or by appointment via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Review by Lauren Manning
Photo courtesy of Jiannan Wu