No. 319-1 East End Art (A), CaoChangDi Village, Chaoyang District｜朝阳区草场地村319号艺术东区内
August 30-October 12
Chinese culture is steeped in delicate intimations sometimes so slight they can be easily missed. In “Subtlety,” curator Karen Smith presents a thoughtful selection of nine Chinese artists—of divergent generations, media, and creative thought processes—who demonstrate this historical refinement. Wang Wei creates site-specific installations that transform their exhibition spaces. For this exhibition, he has enlarged a dozen pieces of the tiny furniture used in real estate mock-ups. These life-size wardrobes and kitchen sets have an odd effect on the space, causing double takes. The artificiality of these stunningly white wooden sculptures is enhanced by their epoxy-resin edges, which give them the appearance of having been pulled from plastic molds. Hu Xiaoyuan and Qiu Xiaofei, who are a couple, present independent works in adjacent rooms; each artist uses a combination of found objects and conventional artistic media to evoke nostalgia. For Permanent Address, 2008, Qiu has assembled from flea-market goods a complete domicile, its corridor entrance flanked by towers of discarded electronics, as well as rice cookers realistically re-created in painted wood. Hu’s Summer Solstice, 2008, is more symbolist and organic: a battered, lift-top school desk is filled with cicada husks; everyday objects fashioned from coarse papier-mâché are displayed on small wooden shelves above it. From the open drawer of the desk, a roll of blank paper spills out onto the floor. The cicadas represent years of gestation in a harsh, survival-of-the-fittest educational system that the surrounding desk and school supplies intimate. In another room, Jia Aili, a young painter known for barren landscapes and ominous figures wearing gas masks, presents a video filmed out the window of a train. Using charcoal pencil, he has covered the nearly sixteen-foot-high adjacent wall with realistic cracks, flimsy nightgowns, and blank canvases. An otherworldly light casts shadows on this crowded wall of nonexistent, two-dimensional objects in the dim room, and a trademark demonic gas mask stares at viewers from its center.
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