Gallery: Pékin Fine Arts
Artist(s): Phénix Varbanov
Opening / Event Date: 28 Jul, 2023
Closing / End Date: 30 Sep, 2023
Curated by Fiona Lu, “Mille Cortex” presents more than thirty paintings by twenty amazing young artists from around the world: Armin Boehm, Chen Yingjie, Cheng Chi Tien Lin, Ding Hongdan, Etsu Egami, Gongkan, Gao Hang, Oska Gutheil, Huang Bingjie, Stephen Wong Chun Hei, Kong Huidong, Leng Guangmin, Liu Youran, Kitti Narod, Jade Ching-yuk Ng, Woo Kukwon, Wang Xiyao, Xie Xuanxuan, Yan Jingzhou, and Zhang Haoyan.
The exhibition title “Mille Cortex” draws on the philosophical work Mille Plateaux by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. The prominent phenomena in the artistic practices of the younger generation demonstrate the desire to seek out newness or escape. The show focuses on an organic expression of painting, attempting to take a more radical approach to the medium as cortexology.
The digital order has made the world less tactile, and perceptual expressions or clusters of images in contemporary painting could be seen as a warm upper layer: the cortex. Evidence of disease or nutrition status manifest on the cortex. In painting, a layer is a kind of thickness, which can be covered, solidified, flattened, and folded. The young generation of painters pays homage to a broader art historical heritage. They do not simply bind things together; they present a fervent response to their times and a way of playing that has significance for them, creating a duplicate subject. Addressing the principles behind this duplication, Hans-Georg Gadamer explained that play (a work of art) is not necessarily sublime art but play (and its rules) is certainly art. Play is often more artistic than systematic, and art is similar. Ancient Chinese poets also described this kind of material transformation in aesthetic terms. Song poet Li Kezhuang, for example, perfectly combined the texture of the allusion and the depth of the material in his poetry, offering a post-modern or futurist conclusion. In the long history of human civilization, we often discover futuristic aspects to primitive or ancient cultures; however, because things can change quickly, we often end up on visual journeys down wormholes. The layers of cultural DNA and viewing experiences are what make these paintings so fascinating.
The different mediums between layers flow and sway, continually changing, fusing, and creating, thereby generating new ways of managing and dividing the rhythms and boundaries between variables like themes and styles, symbols and contexts, spirituality and technology. Armin Boehm, Ding Hongdan, Stephen Wong Chun Hei, Yan Jingzhou, Kitti Narod, Etsu Egami, and Liu Youran hold up a mirror to real life. In their work, the intricate, fragmented surfaces reflect the joy, rupture, and introspection in modern life that ensnare us, presenting the many interwoven layers of the reality of our everyday lives. Oska Gutheil, Xie Xuanxuan, and Woo Kukwon often move between and reconstruct reality and fantasy, tearing into the eternal themes of gender, power, life, and death that exist under a veneer of naivete. The paintings of Huang Bingjie, Jade Ching-yuk Ng, and Kong Huidong invoke extremely intense emotions, and images laden with symbolic meaning become more flexible as the narrative builds. In their paintings, Zhang Haoyan, Gao Hang, and Leng Guangmin contemplate science fiction, electronics, and technology. Drawing on techniques from the archeology of the screen and digital primitivism, they show their sensitivity to the Information Age, and by attempting to trace media and investigate the histories of images, they capture the marks that we make—catalysts that go straight to the heart of our times. The work of Chen Yingjie, Cheng Chi Tien Lin, Wang Xiyao, and Gongkan evoke the mysterious connections between spiritual and energetic fields in painting. Whether representational or abstract, Eastern or Western, the works are underpinned by a kind of spirituality, sparking an endless dialogue among time, space, and the spirit.