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Bani Abidi: ‘What you see in my films is what I know’ Ocula Conversation Bani Abidi: ‘What you see in my films is what I know’

A group of voices accompanies me in the exhibition. They are singing words I cannot comprehend, yet the warm tunes are familiar: folk songs, love songs, songs of longing. There are letters, too. They speak of the quotidian details of a soldier's life: the hardness of the war, sending money to the family, and longing for familiar landscapes, food,...

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Aichi to Okayama: Art in Japan Looks to the Future Ocula Report Aichi to Okayama: Art in Japan Looks to the Future 11 Oct 2019 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

There has been a flurry of triennial and biennial art activity in Japan this year. The Aichi Triennale opened in Nagoya this August, sparking a national debate about the shutting down of a display of formerly censored works—the result of public backlash against a burnt image of Emperor Hirohito and a statue commemorating the women forced into...

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Mark Bradford’s Call for Unity at Shanghai’s Long Museum Ocula Insight | Video Mark Bradford’s Call for Unity at Shanghai’s Long Museum 16 August 2019

Mark Bradford walks through Mark Bradford: Los Angeles Mark Bradford: Los Angeles at the Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai (27 July–13 October 2019) is the artist's largest solo exhibition to date in China. In this video for Ocula, Bradford and Diana Nawi, curator of the show, walk through selected works that convey the artist's concerns with...

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Wu Jian'an

b. 1980, China

Beijing-based artist and academic, Wu Jian'an's works are based on the traditional Chinese medium of paper cut—whereby he extends tradition into contemporary Chinese art. Elaborating and expanding on the 1500-year-old technique, his practice explores iconography from various sources around the world. With these the artist produces increasingly complex compositions and installations that incorporate many individual works together.

Wu's interest in the paper-cut medium began when he started to make simple paper cut patterns to relieve the depression, isolation and fear felt, when he confined himself indoors during the height of the SARS epidemic in 2003. The series of works he created in this time, expressing in various forms his inner thoughts and feelings about the seemingly unstoppable disease, became the basis for his first solo exhibition Day Dreams (2006, Chambers Fine Art).

Since then Wu has continued to push the expressive possibilities of the medium further. Drawing from Chinese traditions and mythology for symbolic motifs followed by broader global references, the artist works have become increasingly complex; growing in their diversity of mythological and esoteric motifs, as well as diversifying in terms of materials and techniques. The artist has experimented with laser-cutting steel, dyes, and ink painting.

The exhibition, Ten Thousand Things: New Works by Wu Jian'an (2016, Chambers Fine Art) showcases the diversity of the artist's chosen subjects and methods. It featured compositions mimicking the shapes of animals and humans comprised of thousands of smaller papercut figures; arrangements of over a thousand hand-crafted and engraved terracotta bricks imprinted with ink; assemblages of individually painted conch shells, and, as seen in the '500 Brushstrokes' series (2016-ongoing), ink painting on paper –albeit, the individual brush strokes are cut out and reassembled in collage. The artist has increasingly focused on the use of colours and unconventional materials in his work leading into 2018 and 2019.

Graduating from the Central Academy of Fine Art, Beijing (where he studied in the department of Folk Art) with a Master of Arts in 2005, following his first solo exhibition at Chambers Fine Arts Wu's work has featured in solo and group exhibitions in galleries and art shows across China, in Japan, Korea, Singapore, the United States, Britain, and Europe. His works also features in several prominent public collections including, the National Art Museum of China, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, USA. Alongside his continually developing practice, Wu is an Associate Professor of School of Experimental Art of Central Academy of Fine Art.

Biography by Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2019
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Featured Artworks

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500 Brushstrokes #54 五百笔 #54 by Wu Jian'an contemporary artwork
Wu Jian'an500 Brushstrokes #54 五百笔 #54, 2017 Ink, paper cut and collage on Xuan paper
160 x 120 cm
Chambers Fine Art
Nirvana Of The White Ape 白猿涅槃 by Wu Jian'an contemporary artwork
Wu Jian'anNirvana Of The White Ape 白猿涅槃, 2014 Coloured wax on wood
180 x 250 cm
Chambers Fine Art
Deer - Man 鹿—人 by Wu Jian'an contemporary artwork
Wu Jian'anDeer - Man 鹿—人, 2013 Hand dyed and waxed paper-cut, cotton thread, paper
120 x 89 cm
Chambers Fine Art
500 Brushstrokes #62 五百笔 #62 by Wu Jian'an contemporary artwork
Wu Jian'an500 Brushstrokes #62 五百笔 #62, 2019 Ink, watercolor, paper cut and collage on Xuan paper
135 x 165 cm
Chambers Fine Art
500 Brushstrokes #44 五百笔 #44 by Wu Jian'an contemporary artwork
Wu Jian'an500 Brushstrokes #44 五百笔 #44, 2017 Ink, paper cut and collage on Xuan paper
160 x 180 cm
Chambers Fine Art
Mask—Wisteria Yellow 面具 – 藤黄 by Wu Jian'an contemporary artwork
Wu Jian'anMask—Wisteria Yellow 面具 – 藤黄, 2018 Buffalo hide, baking varnish, acrylic
240 x 205 x 10 cm
Chambers Fine Art
Mask – Violet Red 面具-紫红 by Wu Jian'an contemporary artwork
Wu Jian'anMask – Violet Red 面具-紫红, 2018 Buffalo hide, baking varnish, acrylic
235 x 205 x 10 cm
Chambers Fine Art

Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Wu Jian'an, Infinite Labyrinth: New Works by Wu Jian’an (Part 2) at Chambers Fine Art, New York
Open Now
8 September–31 December 2019 Wu Jian'an Infinite Labyrinth: New Works by Wu Jian’an (Part 2) Chambers Fine Art, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Wu Jian'an, Infinite Labyrinth: New Works by Wu Jian’an (Part 1) at Chambers Fine Art, New York
Closed
5–28 September 2019 Wu Jian'an Infinite Labyrinth: New Works by Wu Jian’an (Part 1) Chambers Fine Art, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group exhibition, Needlepoint at Chambers Fine Art, New York
Closed
3 May–22 June 2019 Group exhibition Needlepoint Chambers Fine Art, New York

Represented By

In Related Press

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Into Infinity and Beyond with Artist Wu Jian’an Related Press Into Infinity and Beyond with Artist Wu Jian’an TL mag : 4 December 2018

Infinity is ungraspable. It has no shape, no defined time period, no boundaries. Given this, how can we explore concepts of shapeless, infinite existence? Artist Wu Jian'an explores this and more in his solo exhibition Of the Infinite Mind.

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11 national pavilions and exhibition to see at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017 Related Press 11 national pavilions and exhibition to see at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017 Art Radar Journal : 23 May 2017

Rock, Paper, Scissors: Positions in Play — United Arab EmiratesCurated by Hammad Nasar, commissioned by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation and supported by the UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, the exhibition features existing, new commissions and re-fabrications of 'lost' works by five UAE-based artists. The show...

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Chinese Pavilion at 57th Venice Biennale announces artists Related Press Chinese Pavilion at 57th Venice Biennale announces artists Art Radar Journal : 27 February 2017

The China Pavilion at this year's edition of the Venice Biennale, running from 13 May to 26 November 2017, will be curated by artist and curator Qiu Zhijie (b.1969), Dean of the School of Experimental Art at China's Central Academy of Fine Arts. The theme of this year's exhibition will be Continuum - Generation by Generation and will include the...

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Wu Jian’an: “Omens” at Beijing Minsheng Art Museum – artist profile Related Press Wu Jian’an: “Omens” at Beijing Minsheng Art Museum – artist profile Art Radar Journal : 30 November 2016

Paper cutting is a traditional technique associated with shadow puppetry and small scale delicate and often decorative works of earlier centuries, yet Wu Jian'an (b. 1980, Beijing) has been using the medium to negotiate a series of questions about the human body and virus, society and the media, and common existential experiences of fear, boredom...

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In Video & Audio

Wu Jian'an - Process Related Video & Audio Wu Jian'an - Process Chambers Fine Art : 28 June 2018

In the hands of Wu Jian'an, the traditional Chinese medium of paper cut is elaborated and used to explore an idiosyncratic range of iconographic source material culled from all over the world. Over time, Wu Jian'an's works have grown both in scale and complexity as he increasingly conceives individual works as part of larger installations.

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