Palo Alto—Pace Gallery is pleased to present Form through Narrative, a group exhibition of contemporary Chinese artists featuring works by Hong Hao, Liu Jianhua, Song Dong, Wang Guangle, Xie Molin and Yin Xiuzhen. The exhibition will be on view from June 23 through August 27, 2017 at 229 Hamilton Avenue. An opening reception for the artists will be held on Thursday, June 22 from 4 to 7 p.m.
Form through Narrative is a survey of leading Chinese artists whose multi-generational practices explore themes of place, identity and tradition. For the contemporary Chinese artists in this exhibition, art is rooted in storytelling and the narratives surrounding their lives. Form through Narrative features recent works by artists who were educated in conventional, representational modes of picture-making but gradually abandoned them. While narrative becomes apparent in the process, background and content, the artists on view purposely departed from representational aesthetics to reach complete abstraction.
Highlights of the exhibition include Liu Jianhua’s work in porcelain, which responds to Chinese cultural history while addressing themes of globalization and consumerism. Liu Jianhua’s installation Square (2014), consisting of 64 individual steel sheets and gold-glazed porcelain pools, is currently on view in Viva Arte Viva at the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. With the excesses of modern consumerism in mind, Hong Hao, who trained in printmaking, digitally scans the bases of everyday objects to visually deconstruct their functional properties. Also known for incorporating secondhand objects, Yin Xiuzhen seeks to personalize recycled items and allude to those who have been overlooked in the drive toward excessive urbanization, rapid development and the growing global economy.
Confronting common perceptions of wealth in Asia, Song Dong’s works on paper repurpose discarded materials that relate to themes of accumulation and waste. By frying them in a vat of oil, he creates varied abstractions while responding to the rich culinary traditions of China. With similar concerns in mind, Song Dong’s Through the Wall (2016), a large-scale installation presented at this year’s Unlimited at Art Basel, uses reclaimed door and window frames to reflect on the contrasts between historic and contemporary forces that shape society. I Don't Know the Mandate of Heaven, presented this year at the Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, was Song Dong’s first major survey exhibition in eight years.
For some contemporary Chinese artists, narrative does not only come from objects, but also from Chinese traditions. A pioneer of abstract and conceptual art, Wang Guangle’s process of the repetitive layering of different colors of acrylic paint was inspired by an ancient Chinese burial tradition from the Fujian province of southern China: the elderly acquire a casket and paint it in red lacquer, adding a coat of paint every year on the same date as a celebration of longevity. Xie Molin combines two traditions in his machine-generated abstract paintings: his classical training in fine arts and his use of a tri-axial linkage painting machine, continuing his father’s legacy as an engineer.