Cui Jie, Pigeon's House (2016). Stainless steel, coloured stainless steel and coloured aluminium. 260 x 450 x 250 cm. Courtesy the artist and Cass Sculpture Foundation, Goodwood.
Representations of the future always look dated as soon as the future itself arrives. Part of China’s post-1980s generation, the artist Cui Jie makes paintings that continually confound our sense of time in their seeming nostalgia for the future. Set against a metallic sky and often ﬂoating above a similarly reﬂective gridded ground, Cui’s technically exquisite renderings of built forms not only capture a speciﬁc typology of urban China’s modernist artefacts; together with her more recent sculptures, they scrutinize the veracity of modernism as an ideology claiming the future. To the artist, who did a residency last year in Tel Aviv, the flawless International Style of the white city is appealing but not all that ‘interesting’. What compels her is precisely the opposite: the seemingly arbitrary, erratic and often jarring juxtaposition of an appropriated modernism against a context that is, in itself, rapidly shifting. Reconstructed amidst the chaos of China’s urban transition, the pristine, future-facing forms of Western modernism read as anachronisms.