Leo Gallery Hong Kong is delighted to present Assembling Found Images, a group exhibition curated by Gu Zheng, one of China's most influential photography theorists, critics and curators, and featuring three award-winning Chinese contemporary artists; Cai Dongdong, Lei Lei and Wang Ningde. The exhibition, which explores and challenges perceptions of photography as a medium, will showcase 14 recent and new works, encompassing photo sculpture, collage and video.
Thematically anchored in the artistic practice of working with found objects to explore new possibilities and subvert assumed restrictions around concepts of art production, the exhibition challenges perceptions of photography as a medium. Conceptually inspired by originators Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso the use of found objects has evolved into creation methods using the found image and found footage.
Through the reconstruction of images and the concept of 'the image', as well as the use of found objects, the works exhibited collectively extend the visual scope of photography. In an age of vast image and information overload the three artists in turn utilise or strip away the contexts, pressures and illusions embedded in existing images and objects to reveal new visual interpretations of the image, of history, nostalgia, collective human behaviour and identity.
The four exhibited works by Cai Dongdong are installations inspired by his old photography collection. In each the meaning of Dongdong's original image is extended or manipulated through the use of found objects, which at the same time transfer the work from a two-dimensional surface to a three-dimensional space. Through such kind of production method, he allows the viewer to obtain some sort of pleasure in viewing the images afflicted, as well as resolves the inexplicable awe of images.
One of China's leading young artists, Lei Lei often uses pre-existing material to create works. The artist's collage Movement and Coming Soon series which will be shown in Assembling Found Images use a photo album originally taken as reference points for painting, and China's official pictorial propaganda from the cold war as their starting points respectively. The photos which each existed in a specific context with specific meanings are broken into smaller elements and combined into a new image system. As the original meaning is lost, a new meaning is gained and a new horizon for examining the meaning of images is created. Recycled, a documentary by Lei Lei and French artist and photography collector Thomas Sauvin will also be presented, showing the process both artists editing and giving new life to the old photographs which Sauvin collected and found in China. The film was selected by the Annecy animation festival and won the Grand Prix shorts - non-narrative at the Holland International Animation Film Festival in 2013.
Wang Ningde's 'No Name' series is inspired by Chinese urban management officers who erase the content of 'illicit' and 'inappropriate' graffiti and fly-posting by painting over them. While the content is obscured the trace of a now untold story is still evident. Drawn by the dual power of the paintbrush to narrate and abstract, Ningde captured photographs of this state practice of erasing information to create a new journey of questioning and aesthetics. The artist selects fragments of the photographs using computer software to create a new picture, in doing so he broadens the imaginative space while questioning the processes of image production.
'By using the 'found image' as the basis for new creation the artists Cai Dongdong, Lei Lei and Wang Ningde subvert the concept of art production. This exhibition brings together their individual approaches to the production of art and celebrates new possibilities for the photographic image'. – Gu Zheng, Exhibition curator
Press release courtesy Leo Gallery.