|When||24 Mar 2018 - 5 May 2018|
1315 MASS MoCA Way
North Adams, MA 01248
At the gallery’s MASS MoCA location in North Adams, CYNTHIA-REEVES presents Chinese Abstraction, (March 24 – May 5, an exhibition that brings together artwork in diverse media by four contemporary Chinese artists. The show features minimalist paintings by Shen Chen; monumental watercolors of the urban landscape by Paul Ching-Bor; rich abstract oil paintings by Lianghong Feng; and, work by Cui Fei, whose abstract drawings, photographs, and installations evoke Chinese calligraphy through the use of organic materials.
Shen Chen’s meticulous layering of color belies a rigorous discipline grounded in a meditation on breath. To create his subtle ombré surfaces, Chen works with the canvas on the studio floor. He layers the paint in precisely calibrated vertical brushstrokes; the discrete horizontal lines visible on the surface are a record of where each brushstroke – and attendant breath – ends. Of the latest body of work and his studio practice in general, American art critic Robert Morgan, who has studied Chen’s work for a decade, writes in the artist’s catalogue:
In contrast to other important Chinese artists living or who have lived in New York, Chen functions solely as a painter. He is very clear about his position. He is committed to painting as a form that gives him space and time to do what he wants and to express what he needs (without necessarily being expressive). For Shen Chen, there is no reason to take photographs or to make installations. He has no incentive to perform or participate in media-driven spectacles that, in recent years, have seduced so many artists. He is a painter, specifically an abstract painter, intent on working with the surface, using acrylic paint the way he was trained to use ink. (Robert C. Morgan, “Paintings in Memory of Time and Infinity”, 2014.)
Lianghong Feng has been painting in the Abstract Expressionist style for over two decades, and he has now become one of the most influential contemporary painters in this genre in China. His lush surfaces speak of the dialog between the artist and canvas, a call and response between mark and brushstroke, of the application of color and the scribing back into the painted surface. Feng lived in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a time and he describes his first trip to the US as pivotal in his artistic development. While he was nurturing his understanding of Western Art, he was simultaneously re-establishing his appreciation for traditional Chinese culture. In his most recent work, Chinese culture is not overtly evident. In describing the work, he says, “It contains the meaning of ancient Chinese philosophy. If there were any Chinese characteristics, I would say I am inspired by this concept.” A contemporary painter whose dynamic cityscapes represent a bold new exploration of the medium, Paul Ching-Bor was born in 1963 in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, the capital of the province of Guangdong. He began his study of art at the Youth Arts Centre in Guangzhou and went on to study sculpture for two years at Guangzhou Fine Art University. He spent an additional two years at the Jing De Zhen Ceramic Institute, in the Jiangxi province. Ching-Bor has reconsidered the qualities of watercolor that are often thought to be intrinsic to the medium, such as sensitivity, delicacy, and transparency. According to him, his images are “not so transparent, not so spontaneous in some parts, and not so ‘watercolor’ anymore. They are the substantial, developed face of watercolor painting.” This approach is robust and dynamic; at the same time, the works have a quiet intensity in their melancholic and stark qualities.
Cui Fei was born in Jinan, China. She received her MFA in painting at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and her BFA degree from the China Academy of Fine Arts. Since living in New York now for the last decade, Fei has worked continuously on three separate but related series: Calendar, Manuscript of Nature, and Tracing the Origin. Each stems from the central conceit of Fei’s work: she seeks the “underlying essence of our lives…which cannot be altered by social, political, cultural, or geographic conditions.” She turns towards nature, “consistent and ordered,” to provide such sought-after stability.
Photo courtesy of the organizer/s.
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