线 . 界 : Do not follow the line
Artists : Caoyun, Gao Bo, Gao Lei, Ge Yan, Huang Chenglin, Kan Tan, Liu Zhengyong, Nanchao, Qin Tian, Zhang Ye.
艺术家 : 曹云,黄承林,高波,高雷,葛彦,甘丹,刘正勇,南超,秦天,张烨
Curators and Artistic Agents : Cyriane Fournier and Julien Laveissière
Address : Mingqi Art Museum, Building 193 No 255, South Sizhuan Road, Songjiang District, Shanghai.
Date : From the 24th of November until the 8th of December 2018
Opening : 24th of November, 3 PM
For this opening, which is not intended to follow the line, prepare yourself to eat original and delicious food and drink funny beverages. If you have clothes you have never dared to wear, the time has come to rectify that and to put them on for this event !
Because XinqiaoArt Complex is not only a museum, but also the residence of more than 70 artists, it will be possible following the opening to visit artists’ studios, if you feel interested.
（基于展览主题do not follow the line的开幕设计，请您做好准备来品尝最原创的食物和有趣惊喜的饮料，如果你有从未敢穿出去过的衣服，那么是时间自我问询了，穿上他们来参加我们的开幕吧！
Two French engineers leaving all behind to become artistic agents and travel during one year through China to discover and promote contemporary local artists… Cultural clash, inspiring encounters, completely immersive adventure, adoption of a new approach to life, from France to China, from the scientific community to the world of art … Do not follow the line ! is a testimony of freedom and openness.
The aim of this exhibition is to present atypical Chinese artists, but also to tell about the path of life of two human beings. By the time you are reading this, are you following your own lifeline or on the contrary about to shift away from it? Still, you are moving forward in one direction. All of us are on the move somewhere, but is our route mapped out ? Are we guided by some superior power ? Is it possible to deviate from our own guideline or is this cross-track itself part of our destiny since the beginning?
As the philosopher Wittgenstein has explained: "Does the line force me to follow it? No, but when I am determined to use it as a model for me to follow in this way, then it forces me. No, what happens then is that I do force myself to use it that way. I cling to it, so to speak.
Our life is largely conditioned by our environment. During our education, we are taught to respect the common rules in order to properly live in society. These laws are admitted as postulates of life, without any possible alternative, and are deemed as the unique educational axioms for any community living. « Do not go beyond the line ! », « Do not cross the line ! » are as many messages which populate our environment. These messages obviously aim to protect us, but are also a mean to control us and hold us in place, in order to avoid any initiative that might lead to anarchy.
Figure 1: Marking observed in Shanghai streets
Yet, overriding the lines actually allows to experience and learn from new horizons, to gain invaluable experience through the discovery of new points of view. That is exactly what we have been feeling through, during and following our experience in China.
Before becoming artistic agents, we used to be chemical engineer and project manager in an international engineering company. We appreciated this world, enjoyed our positions and our various missions, and were comfortably paid for that every month. Nevertheless, we somewhere felt incomplete. That is why, when we decided to quit everything to start a new life in the art field, we in a way did not follow the line.
However, this exhibition will not only recount our testimony of freedom and openness. It shall also present some of the amazing characters that we met during our trip. We thus selected 10 Chinese contemporary artists, through our French perception and background, after having dissecting and analyzing their works as former scientists.
All these emerging artists have moved and inspired us by their visions and their stories. They all take pride in their ancestry and have a sense of belonging, but they also wish to offer a new vision of Chinese Modern Art. They pursued traditional art courses, learnt occidental painting or sculpture techniques, then eventually moved away from them to trace their own line. They succeeded in founding their own style, without imperatively seeking to stand halfway between oriental and occidental arts, as it is currently the global tendency. In this way, their works kind of reach fulfillment and induce in you an intense feeling lying in between confusion and bliss.
Through the topics they choose, some of them break the silence and exhibit their concerns, being faced with a constantly developing China.
Huang Chenglin is for instance putting us in front of overpopulation issues and loss of identity with his painting “Happiness”. In a country of more than one billion of inhabitants, how can you distinguish yourself and your identity when you are lost in the middle of the crowd ? How to express your need to be different ?
Figure 2: Huang Chenglin, 我想和这个世界谈谈, 2018 (160*200)
Caoyun, for her part, brings the still taboo pollution danger out with her hyper realistic sculpture “Mask”, which reminds the one of Ron Mueck or Xiang Jing. She created this sculpture in 2015, following an important crisis of pollution in Beijing, during which the smog was highly visible. In most of her works, she highlights the weakness of people.
Figure 3: Caoyun, The Mask, 2015 (75*125*35)
The artist Gao Lei emphasizes the individual passivity in front of an issue. A kind of “Buddhanism” trend seems to be growing and contaminating humanity, preventing human beings from finding the courage to face up and take action, even though the situation seems quite unfair to them. His paintings are a way to shake us up and remind us that, as a matter of fact, it is required to cross the line.
Figure 4: Gao Lei, Them 13, 2013 (180*220)
In science also, it is often necessary to not follow the line and to question the system in order to help ideas and perceptions evolve. In this regard, we can remember Copernic, who in the XVIth century had to strongly argue against the whole scientist community to develop his idea that the Earth was not fixed, but was circling around the Sun. The lines of the heliocentrism system were mapped out ! Or Darwin, who during the XIXth century called the creationism theory into question to show that the human was the result of several genetic mutations. As if the DNA of the first kind of life on Earth had wanted to evolve, and hence, to not follow the line !
However, not following the line does not necessarily imply to criticize society. Some other artists thus prefer, instead of diving into classical contemporary art, to work on a redefinition of traditional art, in order to reinvigorate it.
For example, Ge Yan chooses to bring back to life, in wonderful paintings, some former statues from Antiquity. During this ancient period, statues of god or goddess were admired and prayed and had their own specific role in the civilization. Nowadays, these old sculptures are most of the time exhibited in museums, and the spectators, walking by them, look at them as old pieces of History, without any link with their current life.
The willing of Ge Yan is thus to restore these statues to an active role. For that purpose, he integrates them in daily life sceneries. In this way, he gives them back some meaning and even in some way a new lease of life.
Figure 5: Ge Yan, Wooden Horse, 2018 (250*190*5)*2
For the same purpose, Kan Tan is committed to ancient Chinese mythologies based on plentiful metamorphoses and half-human-half-animal characters. The small copper sculptures he creates do remind a world almost forgotten and yet so full of morality and spirituality that could be useful in our modern world.
Figure 6: Kan Tan, Symbiotic soil, 1995 (19*25*9)
Still in the same spirit of drawing from the past to transcend it, the artist Nanchao is highly inspired by traditional ink painting. However, his objective is to blend the tradition with the new movement. He decided to express his inner conflict between traditions and desire of modernism in a different way. He found a method to pass ink painting from plane to three dimensions; his main concept was: “Penetrating ink and rebuild space”. By this mean, traditional ink paintings are transformed into sculptures frozen in a perpetual eternity.
Figure 7: Nanchao, The Cage of Zen-No.6, 2015 (30*15*15)
The French writer Victor Hugo once said: “Science is looking for perpetual movement, it found it ! It is itself”. But, actually, with such artists, always looking for art renewal and new perspectives, we could counterbalance Hugo and present another solution for perpetual movement : Art itself !
All in all, 10 artists have been selected to present to you an alternative vision of modern art, which allows for self-expression, reflection of the past or translation of the surrounding world, in which it just belongs to us to change its line. Their works will be exhibited in parallel with videos, drawings and photographs summarizing our 9 months experience as French artistic agents in China, testimony of discovery and self-abandon.
We have been discovering a quite different culture, with deep religion and behavior traditions and a strong thirst of technologic and architecture evolution. We have met amazing persons we will never forget. Of course, there were some disappointments, but, at the end, in front of you, we have only one thirst : Shouting to you the liberty we have found !
For more information on our artists or our story, rendez-vous on our website : www.jucy-daili.fr
How to come ?
- Step 1 : Take the subway with line 9, direction Songjiang South Railway Station, and stop at Dongjing station
- Step 2 : Grab a taxi to Mingqi Art Museum, No 255, South Sizhuan Road, Songjiang District, Shanghai. There is about 15 min drive. You can download the direction with that link :
- Step 3 : The taxi will drop you at the entrance of Xinqiao Art complex, the Museum Mingqi Art is in the Building 193. Walk through the Central lane, until its end, then, turn right, cross the river, Building 193 is the first one to your left.