'Poems are like sentences that have taken their clothes off.' Marlene Dumas' poetic and sensual refrain accompanies her figurative watercolours on view in Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life, the fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) in the southern state of Kerala, India (12 December 2018–29 March 2019).Dumas' new series...
The paintings of Ellen Altfest are ethereal in their detail. Fields of minutiae come together as pulsating images; small brushstrokes of oil paint accumulate over a series of months to single out seemingly innocuous subjects, such as a hand resting atop patterned fabric (The Hand, 2011) or a deep green cactus reaching upwards from beneath a bed of...
On the rooftop of the former Rio Hotel complex in Colombo, it was hard to ignore the high-rise buildings, still under construction, blocking all but a sliver of what used to be an open view over Slave Island, once an island on Beira Lake that housed slaves in the 19th century, and now a downtown suburb. The hotel was set alight during the...
Pearl Lam Galleries H Queen's is pleased to present Dystopian Forms, a group exhibition featuring works by Du Zhenjun (b. 1961), Dale Frank (b. 1959), Jin Meyerson (b. 1972), and John Young (b. 1956). Concepts relating to utopian and dystopian worlds have invariably remained significant in the contemporary art field, spanning a great range of forms and mediums. This exhibition investigates artistic positions of anxiety, melancholy, and aspiration set against a backdrop of ever-changing societal and environmental degradation. As John Young said, 'The moment when a caterpillar changes into a moth, deformation and reformation exist side by side... There is a sublime, metaphysical and indescribable paradox between the one state and the other—and this change heralds two different qualities of time. Within this change, there is a melancholy. This transformation, once recognized, will never see the world of forms the same again. In this transformation, form leads to a great formlessness and then back to form yet again. And so the world goes, not kept still in ideal forms, but eternally and melancholically transforming.'
Du Zhenjun recognizes how digital media can be used to reveal the power intrinsic to an information society, where technology is constantly advancing and new forms of communication are being developed. The artist sources images from mass media outlets, such as television, magazines, newspapers, and the Internet, and assembles those selected images to create a collage in order to interpret the different facets of modern conflict. Du's Tower of Babel series is his portrayal of post- dystopian ruins, as the artist depicts the dangerous direction the world could be heading in if it does not adopt any social or environmental changes. This series of work is inspired by the Tower of Babel story in the Book of Genesis, in which a united humanity, which originally spoke one common language, tried to build a city and a tower whose top may reach heaven. God intervened by confounding them through creating multiple languages and scattering them all over the world as punishment for their betrayal.
It is acknowledged that the highest truths in today's society are no longer theological, but theoretical in the form of the principles of physics, technology, and other sciences. For Dale Frank, painting is essentially conceptual only when the material qualities in its own language are self-referential and self-critical. Embracing the medium's possibilities of physical transformation, the artist has examined the potential of a painting through continued experimentation with the materials and processes that challenge the notion of painting. As Frank said, 'From the very beginning, my work has been premised on the notion that the art produced is independent of myself. Paintings tend to be more interested in pointing out how they exist, act, and 'live' beyond the realm of human perception, a paradox of sorts given the contrived nature of artworks.' Believing each has a life and lifespan of its own that is created as a result, his paintings reveal the order of nature and explore the concept of 'reaction'.
Having come from an artistic and personal heritage that encompasses both the East and West, Jin Meyerson has always been drawn to specific moments of transition, which persevere through any established boundaries of culture, class, or nationality. What has become clear to the artist is that we are all living in the most complex and layered time in history. Essential to Meyerson's process is the belief that within the endless cycles of contemporary information and media input, there are universal forms and images that touch us all. The work on display, The Resonance of Resurrection, is taken from source images of the springtime growth and autumn decay, or the life cycle, of flowers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster site. As the artist explained, 'The world has become so saturated that nothing is truly born anew and nothing truly leaves forever; the closest we get is resurrection and deconstruction. At the core, my work has always existed in this moment of simultaneous emergence and diffusion.'
The exhibited pieces of John Young shed light on the abstract compositions generated by his manipulations of original paintings by the major members of the Storm Society, China's first modern art association. In Young's signature works, his combination of digital technology and oil painting techniques lies between the discourses of photography and oil painting. The innate human sentiments in his works are utilized to select presented images in order to create his art that engages with the anachronistic condition of painting in the age of photography. For Young, art is a bridge connecting the present to 'a world of forgotten stories, discarded objects, and memories'; making art recollects those stories and reawakens an inherent ethical impulse at the moment.
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