Yishu - Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art

Yellow Signal: New Media in China—Huang Ran, Geng Jianyi, Zhang Peili

Friday, April 20th, 2012

The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery is pleased to present the work of Geng Jianyi, Huang Ran, and Zhang Peili as part of the city-wide project, Yellow Signal: New Media in China. Initiated by Centre A, this series of exhibitions and programs is the first comprehensive presentation of contemporary Chinese new media and video art in Canada. It showcases a selection of leading new media works by internationally acclaimed Chinese artists.

The project is compelling for its portrayal of current political circumstances faced by many artists in China. “Yellow Signal is a metaphor for the communal state of ambiguity in Asian countries,” explains Zheng Shengtian, BC-based artist, curator, and internationally recognized scholar and expert on contemporary Chinese art. He further explains, “Yellow Signal is about limitation and possibility, choice and chance, confusion and self-confidence—feelings that many Asian artists experience, but that artists everywhere may also relate to in their creative practice.”

Huang Ran

The Belkin Art Gallery’s exhibition features a video by Huang Ran titled Blithe Tragedy (2010), a work that questions the relationship between beauty and horror and the power of images. The video presents scenes of intense struggle, emotion, and violence. At the same time, the attention to detail in the footage creates highly aesthetic imagery that prompts the viewer to wonder about the power of the visual to obscure the underlying realities of the scenes and of contemporary society.

Huang Ran (b. 1982) is one of the most interesting young artists to emerge in China. He graduated from Goldsmiths College, University of London in 2007 and has participated in many international group and solo exhibitions. In 2011, Huang received the Credit Suisse Today Art Award from the Today Art Museum in Beijing.

Geng Jianyi

Installed at the Belkin Art Gallery and at Walter C. Koerner Library, Excessive Transition (2008) by Geng Jianyi is a series of large and small black-and-white photographs of everyday objects from the artist’s daily life. Geng uses techniques to create semi-transparent, abstract, and eerie subtle effects that have been equated with ideas about the withdrawal of the individual from society.

Geng Jianyi (b. 1962) is a foundational figure in contemporary Chinese art and was part of the artistic collective known as Chi She (Pool Association) and a major participant in the ’85 New Wave Movement. Using a wide range of media, his work is often known for its stark simplicity and concerns about personal identity and individuality.

Zhang Peili

Zhang Peili’s large-scale, multimedia installation A Gust of Wind (2008) is a meditation on the unpredictable forces that threaten ideas about stable, middle-class domestic life. We see a living room in ruin and the process of its destruction is seen from multiple perspectives on large video screens. It starts with a curtain that flutters in a breeze that steadily swells and tears apart the interior of the room until the roof collapses.

Considered the most important video artist in China, Zhang Peili (b. 1957) was a member of the ’85 New Wave Movement. He is known for the use of lengthy stationary shots that focus on mundane acts and repetitive human gestures that are often taken for granted. Recently, Zhang’s interest has been to reveal the absurdity of war and propaganda by editing found footage of dying communist heroes.

This exhibition is curated by Zheng Shengtian.

On View: April 27 – August 19, 2012

Opening Reception: Thursday, April 26, 8 to 10 pm

Artist’s talk by Zhang Peili with Curator Zheng Shengtian, Saturday, April 28, 1:30 to 3 pm

All welcome. Admission is free.

Works of art from this exhibition are also presented at: Walter C. Koerner Library, 1958 Main Mall, UBC

For more information visit belkin.ubc.ca

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