Brilliant City (Reprise)
For this Viewing Room, David Zwirner is pleased to present a selection of works related to the exhibition Brilliant City, which was on view at the gallery’s Hong Kong location.
The title of this online presentation refers to the lyrics of the 1987 Cantopop classic “Starry Night,” in which the Hong Kong–based electro duo Tat Ming Pair illustrate the perplexing brilliance of the city’s landscape at night, and the feeling of loss and doubt that it harbors amongst its youth. Encompassing video, photography, sculpture, painting, and prints, the works featured here by aaajiao, Chen Wei, Cheng Ran, Li Qing, Michael Lin, Luo Jr-Shin, Wang Rui, and Wang Yi explore new economies, cultures, emotional expressions, and communications in contemporary urban space.
Li Qing’s (b. 1981) paintings extend beyond mere representation and emerge out of China’s propaganda-heavy society where an image is filtered through myriad forms, including advertisements, mobile phones, and apps. Often using a binary format—presenting his paintings as diptychs, for example, or using the frame and glass panes of a window—Li’s work forgoes a single narrative and complicates notions of reality and truth. Li lives and works in Hangzhou and Shanghai.
Wang Yi (b. 1991) is known for his use of handmade pigments on a range of supports including canvas, aluminum plates, and mirrors. His methodical works, created by applying layers of paint over long stretches of time, are an homage to traditional painting practices and a comment on the passage of time. Often using a limited palette of two or three colors, Wang produces geometric abstractions and minimal works that are at once restrained and dynamic, pure and complex. Wang lives and works in Shanghai.
Chen Wei (b. 1980) is known for his photographs of carefully handcrafted objects and scaled-down architectural models, which are meticulously composed into dramatically lit compositions that blur the boundaries between reality and fiction, landscapes and dreamscapes. Influenced by cinematically staged photographs from the twentieth century, Chen’s body of work also includes references to painting and theater design. Chen lives and works in Beijing.
Michael Lin’s (b. 1964) monumental paintings and site-specific installations aim to reshape the viewer’s perception of public spaces. Using patterns and designs appropriated from regional cultures, his work transforms the architecture it inhabits and reflects present-day sociopolitical concerns. Lin lives and works in Taipei and Brussels.
Wang Rui’s (b. 1989) videos are deeply informed by the Internet age, often conflating reality with the cyber realm, and explore themes of self-identity, emotion, and desire. Wang lives and works in Shanghai.
Cheng Ran’s (b. 1981) films and videos are inspired by Western and Chinese cinema, theatre, poetry, and literature. Often ranging from quick, minute-long observations to hour-long films, Cheng’s dynamic works address various cultures, social positions, and existential questions through his distinct, highly stylized lens. Cheng lives and works in Hangzhou.
Luo Jr-Shin’s (b. 1984) work is characterized by an experimentation with a variety of traditional and unconventional materials. Ranging from clay, resin, and metal, to food, chemicals, and scents, these substances are vehicles through which the artist investigates the underlying spirituality and human condition in our representational world. Luo lives and works in Taipei.
Active online as a media artist, blogger, activist, and programmer, aaajiao is the virtual persona of Xu Wenkai (b. 1984). Interested in the role that technology plays in our everyday lives, aaajiao approaches his multidisciplinary work through a dystopian lens, addressing the Internet at large, data processing, the blogosphere, and China’s Great Firewall. Through his various projects, aaajiao captures the impact of rapid advancements in cyber technology and social media platforms on present generations. Aaajiao lives and works in Shanghai and Berlin.