My recent paintings mainly revolve around the role of the modern Chinese intellectual. They speak to a context of an intellectual rupture, discussions on the singularity of historical narratives, and the dichotomy of critical thought in modern China. The paintings follow the same vein as other recent works of mine, that reassess the legacy of the socialist modernisation process in China, and how it unfolds in individual experiences.
I have been inspired by Chinese satirical cartoons from the 1930s onwards, and their use of narrative logics and pictorial structures. They have been integrated with my education in the academic tradition, and other elements from my video- and performance practice, such as stagecraft, theatricality, and performativity.
Painting for me has never only been about the investigation of form. This understanding deviates from the peculiarities of Chinese modern art history and its focus on presumed essential qualities of art. The paintings are more grounded in French- and Soviet realism, Impressionism, and satirical manga, following a tradition that embodies an introspective and critical view, and an image making process that is not disconnected from social practices.
The title, "Out of Reach", comes from one of the paintings in the exhibition. I see it as a reflection on the situation of Chinese contemporary art in the context of globalisation, the paradoxical condition formed by non-western artists' adoption of Western art history as an object of reference. This is apparent in the distraught look of the central figure in the painting when he experiences an original Monet for the first time. Although these virgin experiences are gradually becoming rarer in times of globalisation, cultural translations and migration still maintain feelings of ambiguity and ambivalence – both regarding the objects themselves and the gazes of viewers.
Introduction by Li Ran. The exhibition is curated by Kristian Mondrup. Thank you to The Danish Arts Foundation for support.