In Meiro Koizumi's three-channel video installation, The Angels of Testimony (2019), the central frame features an interview with Hajime Kondo about his time as a solider of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The conversation centres on war crimes perpetrated in China, including the beheading of Chinese prisoners for...
Diana Campbell Betancourt is a curator working predominantly across South and Southeast Asia. Since 2013 she has been the founding artistic director of the Samdani Art Foundation and chief curator of the Dhaka Art Summit in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a transnational art event that has grown in size and scale ever since its first edition in 2012. Backed by...
China, home to 802 million internet users, is subject to sophisticated online censorship. This shrouded state of affairs, unsurprisingly perhaps, serves to reinforce stereotypes around conformity elsewhere. Any realm, digital or otherwise, subject to such strict scrutiny must necessarily be bland and uncritical, right? I was mulling over such...
Under High is some body of work! Paintings from the series Stacked, Marked and Paraphernalia reveal different aspects of Marie Le Lievre’s current research, alongside a suite of smaller works on paper and three painted photographs even.
The Paraphernalia works are based loosely upon the notion of still life, painted often from an aerial view looking down on tabletops with objects placed thereupon. Euphoric Tray #2 is a good example. The viewpoint is elevated, yet the painted space curiously flattened by Le Lievre’s poured colours and intuitive graphite line. The latter is both descriptive and wonderfully organic – qualities of line that are explored further in the suite of paintings on paper. On her typically very light blue ground, oil is laid down, and around the fringes of those layers Le Lievre goes to work with her pencil, coaxing from her imaginary forms, alternately whimsical and considered, from the referential to the meandering and more abstract. The effect is a conjured tracery with magical aspects – references to Asian shrine patterning, plant detail, and items both medical and domestic abound. The feeling is playful, enigmatic and gently uplifting or healing.
The single big Seven Stacked painting is different. It’s like Stonehenge—broad, muscly and nicely off balance. You can see history beneath its layers. Glimpse greens and blues within. Seeing really is believing in this substantial presence. It’s a terrific work.
In the back gallery, Le Lievre attempts something different. Three biggish dark paintings, two of them marked or scarified paintings, enclose the space. No gallery lighting on. The mood is quiet, contemplative, votive even. The works are essentially black colour field paintings in Le Lievre’s distinct manner—poured, paddled by hand, left to dry, then layered in oil paint again. And all three are finished with pours from each side, which depending on temperature and viscosity, filter towards the centre emulsion-like, their feathered forms lichen or anemone like against the black.
The room has a brooding intensity. T’is Rothko like perhaps. And in Marked (Before), the black skin of the painting feels tensile or stretched. The modulations across its darkness suggest light shimmering and glowing from within. The deep scratches down through its centre also allow light through. This beautiful painting simmers with hope from a heart of darkness.
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