Tang Contemporary Art is proud to announce the opening of Fractal Dimension, a solo show for You Jin in the gallery's Hong Kong space, on 10 February 2023. You Jin is a Chinese artist exclusively represented in Asia by Tang Contemporary Art, and this exhibition is his first solo show with the gallery, presenting nearly two dozen all-new works.
In an era of accelerated digitalisation, You Jin's painting practice builds a new visual language by layering, breaking down, and reconstructing existing images. By quietly observing and refining simple geometric shapes, he constructs dynamic forms in space—shapes that reflect the fragmented structures of cities and Kandinsky-esque ways of thinking, but also a microcosm of the multiple realities we currently inhabit. He carefully arranges the shapes in the works, creating structures that are concentrated inward and dispersed outward to generate a spatial landscape in a modern sense. This space also contains his own subconscious emotions and feelings, presenting his unique experiences and ways of thinking within the context of our time.
You Jin's paintings connect a range of symbols in a non-linear, hyperlinked way. Stairs, doors, body parts, food items, bamboo, pine trees, and other concrete symbols move within the different spaces built by those geometric shapes. They layer on one another and become tangled together, but they are also independent and separate; together, they build a unique fractal dimension. This fractal dimension shows how effectively complex shapes occupy space and serves as the measure of this irregularity. Specifically, in fractal structures built on two-dimensional images, if the first-order fractal is n, the n-value is exactly the spatial dimension of the secondary structure. For example, if a three-dimensional object is expanded in all directions a times, then its volume becomes a3. In an infinitely detailed fractal structure, n can be any non-negative integer, so that corkscrews and other curves can be incorporated.
As a mathematical concept in geometry, fractals are abstract, but when expanded into You Jin's paintings, they are more three-dimensional and intuitive. From a single spatial form, the artist gradually expands these fractals outward into the entire image, creating different levels of fractal structures. This dimension cannot be seen with the naked eye; it is a spatial dimension of spiritual freedom opened up by an individual's living energy. In this space, individuals and their surroundings are activated in the boundary between the known and unknown and the present and future; they start to reflect on the mysteries of life and search for the possibilities of all things in the universe.
Surprisingly, You Jin juxtaposes symbolic objects and different geometric shapes, producing an almost Cubist perspective. In Entering the Realm on a Boat, we weave among the triangles, quadrilaterals, rings, and cylinders that create, through tilts and distortions, the latent energy of movement. These shapes offer direction and elucidate the narrative in the work. Figures are about to board a waterman's small boat and row toward beautiful, peaceful landscapes. They are temporarily separated from the bustle of urban life as they explore the tranquility and joy of nature. The artist skillfully depicts objects with flat applications of paint, thereby eliminating the depth in the painting and the explicit energy of advancement and withdrawal; the direction that time provides has disappeared in his work. He brings purer elements like shapes, symbols, textures, and lines into multi-dimensional space. We cannot help but ask: In the fractal dimension that You Jin has created, does time exist? If time no longer exists, then there are no historically transcendent ideas, and refined living with the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove or the virtual reality experiences of Web 3.0 become possible...
In his creative process, You Jin pursues a unique fusion of the observational methods of Eastern and Western thinking, philosophy, and theory. He makes use of Chinese traditional cultural and illustrative elements, and he expresses today's humanistic ideas in the symbolic terms of Daoism, Buddhism, bamboo, and water. Like traditional painters of Chinese landscape, he "brings heaven and earth into his home and absorbs mountains and rivers into his heart." In this way, he directly expresses his feelings and his understanding of the reality around him. With realism as a starting point, he engages in broad-based contemplation of the changes in the world, which provides endless possibilities for the art he creates.
Years of thinking and refinement have pushed a fractal extension of his ways of thinking, composition methods, and expressive languages into multiple dimensions and directions. The resulting fractal space brings together multiple viewing layers and viewpoints in a way that feels contorted yet nostalgic. This fractal dimension is no longer presented in geometric perspective. Drawing on fluid references, You Jin sees space as the product of an organic, living concept. When paired with music, poetic rhythms dance in the visual realm, concentrating the living spirit of Chinese traditional art and imbuing it with imagination, structure, and poetry.
If his paintings are rooted in an understanding of Chinese traditional landscapes, then his ingenious superstructure is comprised of the application of symbols. The nearly two dozen paintings presented in this exhibition embody a rich and varied pictorial language; although the subjects of these works are all different, they constitute the spatial dimension of an unreal presence, a fractal world controlled by the artist's spirituality. Intelligent Comparison, Joining Together, and Spread present a modern spiritual emptiness, as well as tense spiritual predicaments. Therefore, the bodies that appear in the paintings are no longer depictions of people in the usual sense; they are metaphors for a given social reality, a bridge connecting the real and the fictional. Transcending the World to Attain Holiness portrays the concept of movement on a massive scale, conveying the evolving realms of fictional and real, past and present. In Integrity, thirteen small colored spheres are juxtaposed and connected, representing the seven emotions and six sensory pleasures, which have become part of humans and accompanied them through complex and confused spaces or worlds.
After the shapes and symbols in the image have shaken off the constraints of real meaning, they can be combined more freely, inevitably presenting a more abundant semantic world. In his paintings, You Jin attempts to balance abstract and representational elements, gradually eliminating concrete symbols, or concealing the coreferential implications of the inherent recognition of a concrete form. This informs the semantic diversity of his painting language, such that the works become like a game that moves among reconstructed images, abstract shapes, and exquisite reality, but it is also akin to an allegory, a historical technique, or the implied order of the cosmos. Spirit (shape) and material (symbol) are projections of this implied order; they are independent yet connected, but they build the fundamental order and logic of his paintings. For You Jin, mixed and disorderly spatial combinations offer a new intermediary between people and social environments; they could be considered connections between people and the outside world.
You Jin was born in the late 1970s and graduated from the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts. His work contains flashes of academic realism, and grand themes and personal narratives coexist. Through his practice, he reflects on time, space, materiality, and personal experience. As he navigates this overarching creative method, his work is a re-examination of tradition, a revision and rewriting of our present reality. His goal is to bring painting into a new dimension, moving ever closer to the fractal dimension.
Press release courtesy Tang Contemporary Art.
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