Schneider Gallery, in collaboration with Bokeh Art Gallery, is pleased to host a group exhibition featuring three contemporary Chinese artists: Yao Lu, Zhang Wei, and Yu Xiao.
Most Chinese people believe the best way to speak one’s mind is not through direct expression, but rather by using metaphor to bear the weight of truth. The preference for implication is forged over centuries in China, due to the governments’ rigorous literary inquisition and cultural control. In contemporary China, it is difficult for artists to directly engage with their concerns because the government imposes strict consequences on those who challenge censorship. Artists therefore must create works that cleverly conceal their opinions on current affairs. These attempts at expression are often simultaneously tedious and playful, as the artists must “dance with the system” by placing hidden meaning and metaphor in their work. With this in mind, Deceptive Beauty features three contemporary Chinese artists who utilize the photographic medium to express hidden meaning.
In traditional Chinese mountain-and-water paintings, artists used the magnificence of the natural landscape as a metaphorical substitute for their own ambitions and emotions. In his series New Landscape, contemporary artist Yao Lu (b. 1967) takes a modern approach to this tradition. In order to comment on his frustrations with China’s rapidly changing urban-industrial landscape, Yao constructs seemingly benign and beautiful traditional scenes to ironically criticize the urban condition.
Artist Yu Xiao (b. 1984) creates fantastical scenes that question her own childhood experience and the social norms of China’s straight-laced education system. In her series Nursery Rhymes (2012-15), Yu points to how traditional Chinese children’s songs and games are used to indoctrinate individuals into a collective consciousness during their compulsory education period.
Artist Zhang Wei’s (b. 1977) series Artificial Theater blurs the line between celebrity icons and ordinary people, heroes and mortals, beauty and mediocrity. Zhang digitally composites iconic portraits layered with multiple fragments of facial features from everyday Chinese people. His work comments on the increasing presence of celebrity worship in China that is generated by the boom of Western mass media and consumer-driven society.
(part of River North Art District’s Mid Summer Art Walk July 13th, 5pm – 8pm, rivernorthartgalleries.com )
Image attached: Yao Lu, Wine Boat on Pine Creek, 2012, Pigment Print, 40 x 28 inches