Klein Sun Gallery, in collaboration with the Times Art Museum in Beijing, is pleased to announce the group exhibition "UP-YOUTH" on view from July 9th through August 8th, 2015.
"UP-YOUTH" features works by five artists—Li Bo, Ma Wenting, Mo Xiliang, Yang Peng, and Zheng Zicheng. These artists are shown together after having been showcased at the Times Art Museum in Beijing to international acclaim last year; with their individual styles drawn from their contemporary native landscape, they collectively introduce a new, exciting generation of Chinese expression to New York’s art world.
Li Bo’s passion for formal and conceptual diversity is represented in his exploration of various mediums, forms, and styles. The only mixed-media painting included in the exhibition, White in Dark Grey No. 3, is an example of his bold approach to art. For this piece, Li Bo appropriates an image of a street sign by first painting it onto concrete and then breaking the heavy block into myriad pieces; he then reassembles the fragmented squares back into the form of a bicycle. Although immediately recognizable as a bike, the final visual is a layered reconfiguration of symbols and identification, leading viewers to mentally construct the image like a puzzle. By deconstructing a bicycle, a symbol of late 20th century modernity in China, Li comments on rapidly changing Chinese society.
"In Willy, Why do You Cry?," Ma Wenting situates the audience in a typical Chinese classroom. However, the space is disrupted by trees, plants, and children’s toys—as if the classroom has been abandoned for ages. The misplaced items and contradictory dimensions indicate the fragmented nature of faded memories. Meanwhile, the tight composition invites the audience to look closely at the details and discover hidden stories. Underneath the chaotic surface of the painting, Ma embeds a sense of tranquility through a dark, cold color tone. The objects depicted in the painting function as signifiers of childhood memories shared by younger generations of China. The blackboard, a medium that usually delivers official, standard information, is repurposed by the artist to present English sentences that highlight the sentimentality and sadness of the painting. The work is an ongoing dialogue between the rational and the irrational.
The painting by Mo Xiliang, "Must Trap the Paper Tiger," is reminiscent of traditional Chinese styles, but carry with them a strong contemporary twist. The flowing water alludes to a classic study of a river, yet the abstract cage entrapping the tiger is a hyper-contemporary motif.
Zheng Zicheng’s work focuses on social issues. Through his range of works, the artist engages a critical social conversation about Chinese tradition and culture. In the painting "Beautiful New World," the viewer sees a group of racially nondescript individuals—whose attire is as muted as their dull expressions—while they work on building a model of the world. In stark contrast to the drab expressions and clothing, the version of the world being crafted is filled with bright and vibrant colors. By juxtaposing the mundane with the beautiful, this piece asks viewers to contemplate the complex relationship shared between these seemingly opposite forces. These meticulously painted works also reference pop culture in depicting characters from the British television show Teletubbies. These figures are shown standing in a nightmarish reality, as opposed to their normally idyllic dream world.
Finally, the oil paintings by Yang Peng portray anonymous female figures in photorealism. There is a consistent disconnect between the figures and the audience: their eyes are closed, covered, or their bodies are completely turned away. The painted figures’ active avoidance of public communication conveys a self-reflective and transcendental state of inner mind.
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