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Archive for the ‘Self’ Category

Compound Eye: RongRong and inri retrospective at He Xiangning Art Museum

Posted by artradar on June 16, 2010


CHINESE CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY MUSEUM EXHIBITION

Compound Eye: Works by RongRong & inri (2000-2010)(website in Chinese) is the first retrospective exhibition of collaborative works by RongRong and inri since they started working as a husband-and-wife team in 2000. In 1999, the Chinese photographer RongRong met inri, a Japanese artist, at his solo exhibition in Tokyo. They did not understand each other’s languages at that time, but they “understood each other deeply from their works.” Built on the foundation of their individual styles, their collaborative works surpass the limits of their individual vision.

Untitled Series, 2008, No.25 180x134cm, Courtesy of He Xiangning Art Museum and artists

Untitled Series, 2008, No.25 180x134cm. Courtesy of He Xiangning Art Museum and artists.

The lens naturally became a “compound eye” for the pair, enabling them to document themselves and their encounters with nature and their living landscape in depth and from perspectives only made possible by this “eye”. Feng Boyi, the exhibition’s curator, defines the unique quality of their works as such:

“Their collaborative method gives their works a romantic exterior, but the circumstances of their work and the narrative context overturn this romanticism, thus deconstructing their individual memories, dreams, and imaginations. This uniquely beautiful romantic language reflects their combined vision and a different side of nature and reality.”

In Fujisan, No.13 100x134cm , 2001, Courtesy of He Xiangning Art Museum and artists

In Fujisan, No.13 100x134cm , 2001. Courtesy of He Xiangning Art Museum and artists.

RongRong and inri’s freeze frame genealogy

The exhibition is divided into 13 series, each centering on a location and time, as well as the particular emotion associated with it. “In Fujisan, Japan” series (2001) was created after the pair made the decision to be together. This series concentrated on the spontaneous passion of discovering nature and each other, their realisation of their chance to live and create fully. “Caochangdi, Beijing” series (2004-2009) documents the births of three sons into their family. “Three Shadows, Beijing” series (2008), documenting the founding and operation of the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, can be read like a family genealogy. The freeze frames, shaped in circles, add a timeless flavour to the family portraits. The use of this circle shape can also be found in “Untitled 2008” series, suggesting the continuity of life in the universe and their creative process.

When asked about the challenges and decisions involved in putting together this exhibition, curator Feng Boyi replied:

Uncertainty is an important element of experimental contemporary art, because artists themselves are in the phase of exploring new ideas and methods. For a general audience not familiar with the art critical discourse, contemporary art seems distant. Everyone has grown up with a relatively fixed aesthetic preference, while the general art education in China is not very helpful in fostering individual taste. Hence, I am very careful in my curatorial process to take this dynamic into consideration. RongRong and inri’s works are less abstract, so the barrier to understanding should be lower. I also try to engage the audience by providing interactive opportunities – pinhole camera workshops are run every weekend.

Caochangdi, Beijing Series, No.1 102x109cm,  2004, Courtesy of He Xiangning Art Museum and artists

Caochangdi, Beijing Series, No.1 102x109cm, 2004. Courtesy of He Xiangning Art Museum and artists.

He Xiangning Art Museum an important part of China’s art landscape

He Xiangning Art Museum (website in Chinese) is located in Shenzhen, a small fishing town which was designated as a “special economic zone” in the 80s. From these humble roots, it has grown into the cosmopolitan city in Guangdong province you can visit today. Shenzhen has always been well known as a trading centre for business and industrial production, and is the hub of the Pearl River Delta economic region. Lacking an innate infrastructure for art, Shenzhen has seen its government working with private partners to initiate and build quite a few arts clusters.

As a young migrant city without broad art heritage, Shenzhen has gone through a very fast urbanization process in the past thirty years. It is open and welcoming to new ideas and attempts. We have worked with a roster of curators, both Chinese and international. Shenzhen has a leading position in the design discipline in China. We also focus on Shenzhen’s critical location as a regional hub connecting Guangdong Province, Hong Kong, and Macau. The recent exhibition “The Butterfly Effect – An Artistic Communication Project of Cross-Strait Four Regions(website in Chinese) pays tribute to this very idea. (Feng Boyi, curator)

The museum was founded in 1997 and is the first Chinese national museum named after an individual. Since its inception, He Xiangning Art Museum has put on programmes with high aspiration and an international view: the Shenzhen Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition, first held in 1998; Wang Guangyi (website in Chinese) and Yue Minjun‘s (website in Chinese) solo exhibitions; Xu Bing’s Primer for the Mu, Lin, Sen (木, 林, 森) Project in 2009; a number of shows collaborating with Italian and French artists and curators.

He Xiangning Art Museum has always championed slightly marginalized artists in China. They still keep on creating original works without receiving overwhelming media attention. In the past few years, the characteristic of Chinese contemporary artists has shifted from being critical, avant-garde to being less so, especially after the intervention of capital in the art creation process. To some degree, the desire for fame and status has replaced their critical spirit. RongRong and inri remain experimental. They are exactly the type of artist that He Xiangning Art Museum is interested in. (Feng Boyi, curator)

When asked how He Xiangning Art Museum views the current status of art museums in China, museum director Yue Zhengwei said:

“Competition amongst museums should not be our primary concern. Founding an art museum is not the most difficult thing, but maintaining a well-run programme requires a lot of efforts. Each museum in the same city or region should develop its own unique positioning to differentiate from the rest, to avoid the wasting of resources. This is crucial to maintaining a healthy art museum eco-system.”

As an example, in the factory-converted creative and posh residential zone Overseas Chinese Town (OCT) in Shenzhen, He Xiangning Art Museum co-exists with the OCT Art and Design Gallery (website in Chinese) next door. OCT showcases a fusion of art and design, a perfect fit for a city recently named as China’s first “City of Design” by UNESCO.

“Compound Eye: Works by RongRong & inri (2000-2010)” is on at He Xiangning Art Museum until 11 July, 2010. It has been organised by He Xiangning Art Museum, with assistance from the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

SXB/KN

Related Topics: museum shows, photography, venues – China

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What is Indonesian style? Jumaldi Alfi on the art, style and Jogja – interview

Posted by artradar on November 25, 2009


CONTEMPORARY INDONESIAN ART

The Sotheby’s success of contemporary Indonesian artists like  I Nyoman Masriadi, who sold  a single painting for more than $245,000 USD at auction on October 6th, 2009 in Hong Kong, has grabbed the attention of the art world. There finally appears to be much international interest in art from the politically heated Southeast Asian island nation. However, what is Indonesian art, and is there an ‘Indonesian style’? Art Radar Asia researcher Erin Wooters discusses the emerging style from this part of the art world with renowned Indonesian artist Jumaldi Alfi at Sin Sin Fine Art in Hong Kong before the opening of the ‘Diverse 40 x 40’ exhibition, which features the works of Alfi, Andy Dewantoro, and Nasirun.

Renewal/ Verjungung Series 3-A, by Jumaldi Alfi, 2009. Acrylic on canvas. Image courtesy of Sin Sin Fine Art.

Jumaldi Alfi, born July 19th 1973, is from Padang in West Sumatra, and studied in Java at the Indonesian High School of the Arts and then the Indonesian Institute of Arts in Jogja (also known as Yogyakarta or Jogjakarta.) In 2008 his work sold for upwards of $35,000 USD at Sotheby’s,  and he has experienced continued success in 2009. He describes his complicated journey to becoming an artist:

Alfi: My family has a poetry culture. My uncle is a poet and my family prepared me to be appointed to his position, because in our clan we need someone to talk to people with symbolic words. My uncle taught me, but I couldn’t [take his position], because in our poetic culture you need to have very focused writing, from the first to the last word, or else the meaning is gone… Honestly, I did not always want to be an artist. I thought I would follow my uncle, because of our bloodline. But when I chose to be an artist for my career, my mom wanted to know why. They thought artists were not disciplined, so stinky, long hair..

Q: What do you think makes Indonesian art different or unique from other Southeast Asian art?

Alfi: Eighty percent of the artists stay in Jogja.. In Indonesia, especially in Jojga, we live together and have an open community, keeping and sharing the energy… We open our hearts, not just the brain.

Q: So you think the way the people interact is special and different, and that’s what makes the art different?

Alfi: Yea, the place! The city is open, individual, and very personal. Jojgakarta is a small city, and feels like all family. If I am bored or depressed when working in my studio late at night, I can go out, places will still be open, and many artists will be there. I think it’s good. We talk, and then I am back to my studio with a renewed energy.

Q: Is there anything else that makes Indonesian art unique or different from other Southeast Asian art?

Alfi: Yes, our heart.

Renewal /Verjungung Series 2-B, by Jumaldi Alfi, 2009. Acrylic on Canvas. Image courtesy of Sin Sin Fine Art

Q: Are there any subject matters or themes relating Indonesian art?

Alfi: Honestly, we don’t have a connector in Indonesian art. You can’t find something and say – Oh, this is Indonesian style. You can see the style is very modern. We use Western techinique. We use oil and acrylic, but still you can feel it is not Western. It is not Western because when we start working, we don’t use our brain first. We use our feeling, it’s about feeling. If we’re inspired, we work. If not, we stop.

Q: I see. That touches on the next question, which is if there is a distinct ‘Indonesian style’.

Alfi: We don’t have an Indonesian style. Indonesia is only a nation. A nation- basically, we are different. West Sumatra and Java are different. The language, the culture, the food, the character, and the emotional feeling are different. The Javanese people are more defensive than the Sumatrans. Sumatrans are more progressive, and have more heart. Javanese are more quiet.

Q: What is Jogja surrealism, and what inspired it?

Alfi: The 80’s! Jojga surrealism and abstract expressionism is the generation from the 1980’s. In Jojga, the painting is not only surreal, the situation is surreal. Many modern people live there but still believe in traditional mysticism. The surrealism concept in Indonesia and in the West is totally different.

Q: Is your art spiritually inspired or a response to the spirituality in Indonesia?

Alfi: Yes, very much. [It is] not conceptual. Art is the way for me to understand myself.

Renewal /Verjungung Series 4-B, by Jumaldi Alfi, 2009. Acrylic on Canvas. Image courtesy of Sin Sin Fine Art.

Q:  Is there a central theme in your artwork or a certain idea you are exploring?

Alfi: It is my idea of myself. It is about myself and what I’m feeling. If you want to know the people, know yourself. If you know yourself, you know the people.

Q: How did you meet Sin Sin?

Alfi: I think we found each other because of her karma and my karma. When I first met her my English was really bad and we couldn’t talk, but when I showed her my work she understood. I felt good energy, and that is very important to me. I knew it was a good situation. I believe in the connection of body language and the aura. Sometimes you meet people you don’t know, but you want to help them. After one minute, you feel like old friends.

Q: What is the nationality of your major collectors?

Alfi: Mostly Indonesian, although the art is making its way to Europe. I think 80% of my collectors are concerned with investment and business, and the rest are serious art lovers.

Jumaldi Alfi is currently exhibiting at Sin Sin Fine Art’s “Diverse- 40 x 40” with fellow Indonesian artists Andy Dewantoro and Nasirun. The show runs from Nov 12- Dec 13, 2009.

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Posted in Gallery shows, Heart art, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Indonesian, Interviews, Jumadli Alfi, Painting, Self, Spiritual, Surrealist | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »