James Lee Byars, Alexander Calder, Enrico Castellani, Chu Teh-Chun, Lin Jingjing, Ma Sibo, Robert Motherwell, Gerhard Richter, Shiraga Kazuo, Tanaka Atsuko, T’ang Haywen, Umae Chiyu, Wang Guofeng, Wang Xin, Yoshihara Jiro, Zao Wou-ki, Zhou Wendou.
HONG KONG. - de Sarthe Gallery presents Essential Red, an exhibition that showcases artists’ exploration of the color red throughout the West and the East, from modern to contemporary. “Few colours have been so heavily freighted with symbolic resonances as red.” Most art historical theory or interpretation is still written from the perspective of Western principles. Going back to the basic filter of color opens this perspective. Color interpretation varies from different cultures and times. From the earliest period of artistic production, red has always been an essential color, whether associated with happiness in China or with all meanings of passion in the West. Artists have used this prized pigment with different degrees of measure, from monochrome to a simple dash in all media. To give a broader visual experience of this color in art, de Sarthe showcases side by side works by Western icons such as Joan Miro or Enrico Castellani in Europe, or Alexander Calder in America, to Japanese master Yoshihara Jiro, or Chinese painters in Paris (Zao Wou-Ki, Chu Teh-Chun and T’ang Haywen) to illustrate some 20th century explorations of the color. From the 21st century, the most recent works by Lin Jingjing, Ma Sibo, Wang Guofeng and Wang Xin, all Chinese artists with training in and experience of the West, hence truly global, will be featured.
About the artists
LIN JINGJING (1970)
Lin Jingjing works with experiences that have personally influences on her, experiences that derived from culture that are both public and ties to individual. Lin’s work is about people, interpersonal relationships, and their internal and external defects. These elements were transferred social traditions in a sophisticated way by the artist. She uses found materials to alter these, reforming them or ‘hurting’ them through embroidery in order to bring together new associations, both contextually and aesthetically.
Lin Jingjing’s work presents in the medium of installations, objects and photographs. Lin’s works, in each medium, are often combined with performative processes. Silence and reluctance are significant characteristics of Lin’s artistic language. Nevertheless, her expression is so strong that it goes beyond the beauty of the works and confronts the viewer with the topics of existentialism.
With the de-individualization of her own experience in order to transfer this into something of universal experiences, she does not restrict herself to her own familiar culture. With simple artistic means, she draws a cross-cultural image of people, their fears, their longings and desires.
WANG GUOFENG (1967)
Wang Guofeng was born in 1967 in Liaoning province. He currently lives and works in Beijing. He uses a wide array of media, from photography to video, drawing, sound and installation to convey his conceptual perspective. His earlier communist themed photography focuses on the. iconic political architecture in Russia, China and North Korea. In the "News" series Wang Guofeng manipulated pictures of events of global significance and inserts text on each image to challenge the viewers' preconditioned perspectives and rethink the distance between the appearance and the truth. Wang Guofeng thinks that "human beings are often in a state of amnesia, so history repeats itself again and again." Thus, he is fascinated by the implications of the memory of the past historical events to the contemporary world. In another emblematic series, "Pixelated", he uses different techniques like blowing up the pixels of an oversized image, blurring pictures to obscure our interpretation. Thus, we are forced to stop and truly consider what is happening in the image, what is the meaning behind the image. Wang Guofeng's work goes beyond a simple documentary photography work. It is a very complex process including pre-filming, selecting, computer-generated collage, etc. The result of this creative endeavor is a subjective concept, which is used by the artist to express his ideas and establish an in-depth dialogue with the viewer.
WANG XIN (1983)
Wang Xin studied at China Central Academy of Fine Arts before moving to the United States where she obtained her MFA at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011. She currently lives and works in Shanghai, China. As a multimedia artist, the projects developed by Wang Xin are mainly interactive installations and videos. Her body of work explores the inner self and human’s reactions to their environment. Wang Xin’s absorbing videos immerse the audience in a peculiar world inhabited by feminine characters. Part of her video art production has been exhibited at the White Box Art Center in New York along with other video works from the collection of Dr. Michael I. Jacobs. Through her installations, the artist frequently questions the art world system. Involving the public, Wang Xin creates an opportunity for the arty crowd to be part of the artwork as well as to reflect on their daily environment.
YOSHIHARA JIRO (1905-1972)
Regarded as one of two the founder of the Japanese avant-garde movement, ‘Gutai’, Yoshihara Jiro was probably the most international figure of the group. He received guidance in the practice of art from Kamiyama Jiro, a professor of European art and philosophy as well as Tsuguharu Foujita, who then lived in Paris. First interested in the works of Giorgio de Chirico and Joan Miro, or Wassily Kandinsky, in the 1920’s and 1930s, he created works in a surrealist manner, then a trend among Japanese avant-garde artists. He then explored geometric abstraction. In 1951 in Osaka, he established an artists group, which aim was to bridge the Eastern and Western, as well as traditional and modern, forms to create new aesthetics. Yoshihara was already exhibiting abroard, at the Salon de Mai in Paris in 1952. He is then inspired by Jackson Pollock as well as Zen calligraphy and moved away from Japanese modernism and formal abstraction. The Gutai Art Association is co-founded in 1954, in 1956, Yoshihara wrote the ‘Gutai Manifesto’. In 1958, Yoshihara is exhibited in Paris again and in 1961 in New York. Yoshihara was also part of the avant-garde calligraphy movement ‘Bokujin-kai’. The Circle series is his later and most dedicated, almost obsessively, artistic pursuit.
ZAO WOU-KI (1920-2013)
A major figure of Chinese Abstraction, Zao Wou-Ki belongs to the Second Generation of Chinese artists who settled in Paris after World War II. Prior to his emigration to Paris in 1948, Zao Wou-Ki was trained under the tutelage of Lin Fengmian at the Hangzhou Academy of Art. In Europe, Zao Wou-Ki found resonance in the creative journeys of some Western artists, such as Klee, Soulages and Hartung, and became an exponent of Lyrical Abstraction, conveying a new perception of the meaning of art. A unique cross-cultural figure, Zao Wou-Ki helped to shape the avant-garde art in post-war Europe, merging Eastern and Western aesthetic traditions in his artwork. Heralded as an influential cultural figure in both France and China, Zao Wou-Ki accompanied then President Jacques Chirac on the official trip to China in 2000. Zao Wou-Ki has had major retrospectives at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume (France); at the Shanghai Museum of Art and at the Chinese Palace of Fine Arts (China). Zao Wou-Ki’s works are part of important public collections including: the Tate Gallery and Victoria & Albert Museum (UK); the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (USA); as well as the Taiwan Museum of Art (Taiwan), showing that his artworks are generating enthusiasm at the world level. Zao Wou-Ki’s works have consistently broken auction records across the globe and continue to be highly sought after by private collectors from the West and the East.
About de Sarthe Gallery
First established in Paris in 1977, de Sarthe gallery moved its location to be closer to the most exciting art scenes of the time. This passionate path to seek the most important artworks of Impressionist and Modern masters as well as to represent living artists led the founders, Pascal and Sylvie de Sarthe, from San Francisco to Los Angeles to Phoenix and presently to Hong Kong and Beijing, where they pioneered the complete relocation of their international gallery in 2010. Discovering talent ahead of the market, they brought global attention to the works of the Chinese painters in Paris, Zao Wou-ki, Chu Teh Chun and T’ang Haywen, as well as to one of the first major Chinese conceptual artists, Chen Zhen. Working closely with institutions, in 2002 they notably organized the first Robert Indiana retrospective at the Shanghai Art Museum. While representing artists worldwide and without focusing on their origin, the gallery currently represents a new generation of Chinese contemporary artists. After collaborating with established international artists, Vincent, the son of the founders, opened de Sarthe Beijing in 2014
 John Gage, Color and Meaning: Art, Science, and Symbolism. 2000, University of California Press, p110
Interviews with de Sarthe Gallery founder Pascal de Sarthe available by request.