Organising an exhibition can be seen as testing out a hypothesis which can only be presented – and defended – by establishing a convincing relationship between the works it has recourse to. A hypothesis, then, cannot be a clearly formulated theory demanding verification, and even less so a discourse whose lofty sentences are appropriately interconnected by the exhibits. It is either a promising idea still lacking a concept, an intuitive sense of a novel and hopefully fruitful interrelationship, or a group of works one would like to bring together to observe how this juxtaposition changes them.
A dual hypothesis, then: as to what would be (should be?) an exhibition and as to what an exhibition actually does. Since the first part can't be gone into here, let's take a look at the second, with Alain Bublex proposing, in backdrop, to test out a hypothesis in the way mentioned above. To put it briefly: ‘The creation of a “national” political and cultural space most often goes hand in hand with a trend towards representation of its landscapes.’ Or in other words, as soon as a people endows itself with a common future (and invents for itself a shared past), it feels the need to portray what surrounds it and what has preceded it. It then does two things that are only seemingly contradictory: it portrays the irreducible strangeness of these landscapes while at the same time recognising them as its own. Thus a landscape – whether painted or natural – is not solely a visual transformation of the natural environment; it is also an assertion of the strangeness of what is there. One of the works Bublex has opted for in trompe l'oeil form is a landscape by Albert Bierstadt, a painter of the American West and its wilderness. Interestingly, it was Bierstadt's paintings that led Congress to pass the Yellowstone Park Bill in 1872 and so create history's first national park.
Bublex is not trying to say that a pictorial space is also a political space – in itself a truism – but rather that the establishment of a country as a political space involves that country's representation of landscape. And this representation changes with time: the time of history and the time of art. After Bierstadt, backdrop presents pictures by Charles Sheeler and Morris Louis, offering a curious history of American painting from wilderness to Abstract Expressionism. This placing of a Morris Louis picture beside an industrial landscape by Sheeler the modernist speaks eloquently of the intuitive aspect of the hypothesis. The first major style produced by American painting, Abstract Expressionism is, as much as Bierstadt's Rocky Mountains, part of the cultural landscape in question; and a trained eye will not fail to detect in the overlaid strips of colour of Louis's ‘veils', diluted to the point of translucency, the distant heritage of Bierstadt's spectral backdrops: trees and mountains given a strangely ghostly look by the scorching sun rising over his landscapes.
There remains, however, the question of how the hypothesis is actually put to work: of the 'rigging’ (as Bublex calls it) which underpins its structuring, which renders visible an exhibition whose construction has been halted – abandoned or gone to ruin – and which thus refers all the exhibits back to the contingency of their finish. We must not conclude, though, that all landscape is ruin; simply, rather, that it captures and as a result ultimately effaces the strangeness of what is there. ‘Rigging’ – also to be taken here in its nautical sense – consists in making discernible the activities that art presupposes and often conceals; which is also the message conveyed in their own way by the original works Bublex has dotted throughout backdrop: landscape photographs in which a part – a freeway, Mount Fuji, etc. – is reproduced by vectorial drawing, as additions whose obviousness (they in no way interfere with the image) testifies to the familiar artificiality of our surroundings.
Alain Bublex has never stopped making landscapes in a country that has produced none since the end of the Ancien Régime (with some notable exceptions: the ghost of Albert Marquet haunts the exhibition). Republican France took shape without offering any image of itself; which is probably why, today, we find it so hard to look at her without nostalgia.
We are pleased to announce an exhibition of new works by Gianluca Di Pasquale.
His best known works are landscape paintings composed almost only by figures, painted with precise brush strokes inside a large white space. Apart from some people, a few trees, some architectural details, there is almost nothing but white painted canvas. Yet in the imagination the immaculate space becomes mountains, sea, a square or a street. The scenarios are those of our leisure time: ski slopes, parks, trails, large urban squares, beaches - places of encounter and mediation between nature and civilization, where people aggregate, creating rhythms and constellations dictated by the forms of the landscape.
In the most recent works nature, trees and vegetation have become the main actors in the scene. They delicately invade the space with arabesques and patterns of leaves, branches, grass helms and flowers. Loosely referencing Henri Rousseau, Di Pasquale creates new images of paradise where wild animals and humans live together in peace. Di Pasquale’s nature is hypertrophic, but also suspended and silent, observing us from inside his paintings through archetypal animals that resemble guards or sentinels, protecting the landscape that, in turn, protects them. The animals become guides on a path the artist invites us to follow inside nature, getting lost and finding ourselves again, encouraging us to stop and think, triggering a moment of suspension from the frenzy of contemporary life.
Faithful to his poetics, once again Gianluca Di Pasquale attempts not so much to describe reality as to recreate, in painting, landscapes close to his idea of harmony.
Gianluca Di Pasquale was born in Rome in 1971; he lives and works in Milan.
ShanghART Beijing is pleased to present Wang Youshen’s solo exhibition ‘Per Square Meter’ on 13th September, 2014. This is the first solo exhibition with Wang Youshen in ShanghART Beijing space, and also the first solo exhibition in Beijing after a lapse of 20 years.
‘Per Square Meter’ is an exhibition about an ‘event’: Artist twice experienced the process of constructing to dismantling of his studio from 2007 to 2011.
Two Studios in five years, from sign a contract, start construction to demolition, from blossom to fade. Time and space are compressed, everything running in a absurd way. A “Rashomon” story is completed, which recorded a “uncontrolled” daily behavior.
‘Per Square Meter’ describes an extension of a physical unit of space related to a social event or an art event. The whole process is consisted of installation, picture, sound, documentary and paperwork, the multiple visual relationship paves an interesting path to the explanation.
The recent five years after 2010, Wang started the project ‘Per Square Meter’, in the process of deconstruction and reorganization, he tries to complete a unrealistic reconstruction. A “uncontrolled” daily behavior and social event switched into a “controllable” art production and artistic event, everything seems never happened, everything from realistic physical world changed into a illusive mental world.
Our individuals are like plural ‘per square meter’, keep the constant melting and reconstructing.
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