Emerging Chinese, Mid-Career Artists of the Americas To Be Exhibited at Bridge Art Fair-Wynwood and at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries in Coral Gables, Florida
ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries in downtown Coral Gables continues its 35-year tradition of introducing important artists and art movements to this area with “SAVE AS: Contemporary Chinese Art Born of Ancient Traditions,” the first major exhibition of paintings in this country by Cao Xiaodong, opening from 7-10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7th.
Although his computerized screen-pattern technique and compositions clearly categorize Xiaodong as a contemporary artist, his style is compared by Chinese critics to that of their ancient ink and watercolor landscapes because of his use of traditional tones and his paintings’ nostalgic sense of preserving the past.
Xiaodong’s favorite subject matter is to contrast Western cultural icons with their Chinese counterparts, such as Hugh Hefner with Mao Zedong, or Playboy Bunnies with young women wearing Mao-era uniforms. He is well known in China for his 500-portrait mural of Chinese who were famous from 1911 to 1949.
The second artist to be exhibited is Li Xiaofeng, a 43-year-old Beijing artist. After being introduced by the gallery at the Bridge Art Fair in Wynwood, Xiaofeng’s two full-length dresses and a man’s jacket, shirt and necktie made of broken pieces of ancient Chinese porcelain will be added to the exhibition in Coral Gables. Two receptions will be given for the expanded “SAVE AS” exhibition from 7-10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 2nd, and again on Friday, Feb. 6th.
Being exhibited outside China for the first time, the sculptural “garments” consist of shards of Ming, Qing, Yuan and Song dynasty porcelain that the artist has fitted together so perfectly the finished dresses and jacket appear to have been designed for their materials. Mounted onto a leather undergarment, the works open on the sides or back, just like an actual dress or jacket, and can be modeled as if they were of fabric.
Sharing ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries’ Chinese booth at the Bridge Art Fair in Wynwood from Dec. 2nd – 7th will be artists introduced to this region by the gallery in two major exhibitions last year, including painters Li Bo, Kang Can, Liang Haopeng, Yang Na, and Liao Zhenwu, along with newcomer Mu Lei and stainless-steel sculptor Liao Yibai.
Li Bo disregards the conventions of composition and scale and depicts his subjects in the same size along a linear path. According to the artist, the string of apparently unrelated objects in Li Bo’s enigmatic painting should be viewed in context of television, other media outlets, and particularly the Internet, where random “surfing” can provide serendipitous juxtapositions even poetic insights.
Kang Can depicts his swiftly evolving nation as an infant in overwhelming situations, such as perched atop an enormous club sandwich or hypodermic needle. As China’s widespread industrial and manufacturing abuses continue to be disclosed, his babies remind us of the vulnerability of his nation as well as its awesome potential for continued economic growth.
Liang Haopeng’s works are mostly paintings of unruly behavior, chaotic gatherings often depicting verbal and physical arguments. He deliberately paints the figures in his canvases with oblique lighting and rimmed in red, so they appear violent and sinister. By capturing his subjects in peak action—what the renowned photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson called “the decisive moment”—Haopeng creates a powerful sense of tension between the painting and its viewers.
Yang Na’s doll-like, self-absorbed women, inspired by internationally popular anime cartoon characters, epitomize the sexual fantasies of global mass media. Her emphasis on cosmetic enhancements may refer to the avatars of video games, whose persona are created from a menu of facial features, hairstyles, and clothes.
Born and educated in Sichuan, Liao Zhenwu’s current series of paintings were inspired by the recent devastating earthquakes in that region. The gritty shades of black and gray in his paintings also refer to the polluted air in China’s cities.
Mu Lei, being shown outside China for the first time, compares the trendy young urban women of China with high-powered fighter planes and other armaments, suggesting that both are equally dangerous.
Liao Yibai’s welded stainless-steel sculpture places his dog, Man-Man, in birdlike poses and guardian-lion masks, sometimes with wings. Yibai, who grew up in an accident-prone factory that made propellants for China’s defense missiles, often incorporates hand tools into his limited-edition works.
Across the aisle from the gallery’s Chinese booth at Bridge Art Fair-Wynwood, ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries will present mid-career artists from the Americas.
Mateo Arguelles Pitt, an Argentine artist whose works often contrast spaces crammed full of people in confrontation or communion with relatively empty spaces or flat planes, will be represented by “Sunflowers,” a four-by-five foot mixed media painting, and three of his sculptures of an alert dog. Pitt says that these recent three-dimensional themes speak of the relationship between people and nature, as an extension of our bodies.
Mexican artist Sergio Garval, winner of a number of his country’s leading awards, often chooses subjects of decadence and destruction for his mixed- media drawings on board and oils on canvas.
Other artists sharing the booth include Alfredo Arcia, Benjamin Cañas, Matt Carone, Humberto Castro, Michelle Concepción, Arnaldo Roche-Rabell, Elmar Rojas, Soledad Salamé, and Mariano Vargas.
Greater Miami’s longest-established contemporary fine art gallery, ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries has been exhibiting outstanding artists since 1974. For more information, call 305-444-4493 or visit the gallery website, www.virginiamiller.com.