Enjoy · Art Museum presents art group exhibition A Tale of Two Cities. This group show is curated by artist Jiannan Wu, and is currently on view at Enjoy· Art Museum (Hall C) Beijing, China. Featured artists are Shiqing Deng, Qingzhen Han, Webson Ji, Weixian Jiang, Fei Li, Stone Zhu, Jingyi Wang, Mingdi Wang, Jiannan Wu, Qian Wu, Duohan Xu, Jim Xu.
The title of the exhibition comes from the historical novel “A Tale of Two Cities” by British writer Charles Dickens. Differ from London and Paris in the novel, the “two cities” refer to the two places where the artist used to live and study, and also the completely different cultural spirits and artistic appearance of the East and the West. All the artists participating in this exhibition were born and grew up in China. They have studied in the United States, the United Kingdom, or are currently working and living abroad. Their art practice is influenced by European and American modernism and postmodernism. Each artist’s work is presented in pairs around the theme of “Twin Cities”. Through intuitive visual expression, the integration of complex cultural backgrounds and artistic practice is the expectation for the artists in this exhibition.
Qian Wu’s couplet accurately interprets the theme of “two cities”. His well-written works are based on traditional ink and wash, yet they break through strict historical norms. Using acrylic, oil paint, or both, mixed with ink and wash, he created a variety of different effects by painting on all-dry, semi-dry, or all-wet flat surfaces in black and white tones. This unique blend of eastern and western traditions embodies both the Taoist spirit revered by his Chinese predecessors and the skills of contemporary painting that he acquired from his American studies.
Stone Zhu’s photographs show another cultural spirit of “East meets West”. His works have the western vision and eastern elements, which are the fusion of Chinese and Western visual presentation in the international context. Tattoo and fan, muscle and cheongsam are both rigid and soft, seemingly unified, yet very contradictory. This contradiction forms its unique visual way and reflects its thinking on the choice of cultural identity.
Webson Ji’s Blackwater series is his feeling and expression of life at a time in the past. The picture is full of subjectivity, and he does not lose rational layout structure in emotion. At first glance, black and white are endless and oppressive, but in the strong brushwork, strength, and momentum, they reveal firmness and expectation. Like being alone in a strange context, like standing in the flowing unknown. The feeling of uncertainty and loneliness reflected in the painting is the true emotion of a young artist living abroad.
In recent years of creation, the cactus has always been the substance of Wang Jingyi’s paintings. When New York became the epicenter of the global pandemic, she was trapped in her studio in New York and could not return home alone. The sudden change made her think about the relationship between human beings and nature. The image of the anthropomorphic cactus represents the fragility of her understanding of the Middle World and her own anxiety. She expresses her personality through her works. The narrative method that combines surrealism and realism is both innocent and reveals the melancholy that cannot be concealed.
The artists participating in this exhibition are a generation who have grown up under the background of globalization. Their complex cultural background and creative experiences enable them to understand not only the traditional Chinese cultural spirit and aesthetic pursuit but also the inner logic and narrative mode of western contemporary art. Each pair of works is cross-time and cross-space “mix and match”, which contains internal connection, interest, and fierce contradiction. “A Tale of Two Cities” not only represents the different cultural environments they have experienced in different stages of life, but also the retrospective of the artists’ memories and emotions, as well as the collision, fusion, and rebirth of Eastern spirit and Western vision in each individual. Guests from various industries attended the opening ceremony, including artists, curators, business elites, directors, and international students. They also delivered an outstanding art-sharing event.
Group exhibition A Tale of Two Cities will run from October 9, 2021 to October 21, 2021. The address is B06 797 Rd, 798 art zone, Jiuxianqiao, Chaoyang District, Beijing.
Photo credit: Enjoy · Art Museum