Galerie Urs Meile Beijing is honoured to announce Shao Fan (Yu Han)'s exhibition Recent Works. Following the artist's last solo show Big Rabbit + in 2016, this upcoming exhibition will extend the focus onto new developments in his contemporary ink explorations.
Along with his diverse body of work—including painting, sculpture, landscape art and design—ink painting has always been an essential field of interest for Shao Fan, and in recent years has resulted in a distinct body of work predominantly depicting portraits of animals. His works speak to an almost obsessive fascination with Chinese traditional culture and its peculiar appreciation of Oldness. At the same time, they further embody concepts and leanings of contemporary art in an international context, something particularly noticeable in his large-scale animal portraiture.
When working with recurrent themes of various animals such as rabbits and apes, Shao Fan tries not to look at the depicted animal from a human perspective, but from that of the animal itself. Bestowing the dignity of a human-sized portrait on an 'irrelevant' animal, he aims to express his own Taoist mindset with a unique contemporary language. The virtually infinite accumulation of one single type of brushstroke compiling an animal's coat, the unexpected focus on an animal's limbs, or the unorthodox composition and perspective of the paintings, are only a few hints of the artist's ambition to put traditional thoughts into a contemporary context.
In Shao Fan's works, artist and subject permeate each other, producing new imagery that challenges the audience's ordinary viewing experience. Through the large size and frontal perspective of the paintings, the viewer confronts the intimidating gaze of Shao Fan's animals on eye level—an awareness of the other arises, as does a new awareness of the self. As the artist himself puts it, 'Confrontation is an attitude, and while a frontal perspective could be understood as a limitation of an artist's painterly expression, I prefer to use this limitation to provide new possibilities. Today, Shao Fan struggles less with what to express, but instead focuses his efforts on how to express, even when it comes to the same position. Explorations and breakthroughs in technique have brought him unwittingly into another creative state—one marked by more freedom and flavour that presents unexpected imagery.
A selection of the works on display will travel to Germany after the show where the Ludwig Museum in Koblenz will host Shao Fan's first major solo appearance in a Western art institution. The exhibition, which opens in June, will showcase nearly three decades of the artist's creative work including over thirty artworks. The exhibition will travel to the Suzhou Museum in China in November 2018.
Press release courtesy Galerie Urs Meile.
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