Tang Contemporary Art is proud to announce the opening of A Dream Within A Dream, a group exhibition curated by Michela Sena and featuring the works by Ai Weiwei, Ayka Go, Dinh Q Le, Gerald Davis, Raffy Napay, Wang Jian Wei, Yue Minjun, and Yunizar at Tang Contemporary Art in its Bangkok space. The exhibition is running from 31 March–3 May 2022.
'A Dream Within A Dream', this is how Edgar Allan Poe titled his poem in 1849; not only is this poem one of his most famous, it's also one of the darkest. It expresses doubt and uncertainty about the nature of reality, questioning whether life itself is just an illusion: 'a dream within a dream'.
In the same way, the artists on show are all confronted with the concept of reality. Confrontation can be disarming, inevitably leading to introspection. This is the case with Wang Jianwei. His artworks subvert the concepts of time and space to give new life to an indecipherable reality, returning us to an individual and sublime perception of his own artistic world. They are so magnificent from an aesthetic point of view and equally profound on a conceptual level.
Similarly introspective is Yue Minjun who, with his obsessive repetition of 'self', is in search of a lost identity. His laughter, the hallmark of his work, is Yue Minjun's representation of a state of helplessness, detachment from contemporaneity. The same laughter gave birth to artworks that are milestones in the history of contemporary Chinese art. The works on show in our exhibition belong to his mature season. The colour palette becomes more vivid, the flowers and shapes suggest a dreamy atmosphere, allowing the aesthetic factor to prevail and giving life to absolute masterpieces.
'Unique' is Ai Weiwei's approach to reality–a reality he no longer recognises and where he feels lost. To use his own words, while referring to refugees: 'I am a refugee, every bit... Those people are me. That's my identity.' Struggling to feel at ease in a society that changed much faster than the human pace, he finds himself an orphan of his own context.
His reaction meets his characteristic 'self-centred' practice: art and identity coincide in his works. His vision of reality moulds his identity, leading him to incontrovertible active practices. In Ai Weiwei's art, the collision with reality generates active reactions toward the outside, without boundaries between reality and what he feels, what he sees and what he returns to us.
Extroverted reaction to reality is also shown in Dinh Q Lê's practice. Born in 1968 in Vietnam, Lê's works and art practice revolve around the themes of identity, history, and memory, which span from his well-known woven photographs to different media. He questions how visual culture may influence the perception of a national identity. As a refugee who migrated to the US, Lê lived and studied in California. Sparked by America's prevailing perceptions of the Vietnam War, he draws inspiration from the war and its lingering consequences on the Vietnamese community.
Coming directly from the natural world that surrounds him, the elements depicted in Yunizar's canvas become characters of his artistic imagery. Conceived from the holistic concept of 'rasa' (the act of perceiving the whole at once, involving simultaneously feelings, emotions, sensations, perceptions, and judgments), his works depict visions of a lost world, so natural and archetypal as to become mythological. Unaffected by any trend coming from contemporary society, Yunizar silently witnesses the transformation of Indonesian traditional culture, gradually eroded under the pressure of modernity, yet present contingencies can't override his own dimension.
Davis's works are among the best examples of the recent return to figurative painting. Through the element of beauty, he gradually brings the viewer to dig into an intimate dimension, made of dreams, fantasies, memories. The external reality is no more important than the intimate dimension, where his paintings originate.
So are Raffy Napay and Ayka Go's works. Napay uses cotton threads to realize his famous textiles and the reason why he chose this material is probably to be found in his childhood. Growing up with a seamstress mother, he was exposed from a very early age to textiles and fabric. The memory of a lost childhood resonates through colourful threads in his works.
Ayka Go's world is the construction of a metaphysical reality: in a suspended atmosphere, random details of everyday life are enlightened by the lenses of her unconsciousness, and suddenly reality appears as we have never seen it.
Critical essay by: Michela Sena
Press release courtesy Tang Contemporary Art.
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