Stanislava Kovalcikova’s paintings are haunting, unsettling. Above all, they are real, depicting motifs taken from postmodern life: Stress, mental health, fluid sexualities. “However in painting it makes sense to show these states since words mostly fail in these situations. It’s not a criticism, it’s just an observation,” says the artist herself. Why she calls the exhibition her little Stonehenge, why spiritual maters are important and why everything is painting.
“Everything I do is painting”: Stanislava Kovalcikova at the Belvedere in Vienna | Numéro Berlin – Words: Antonia Schmidt
Owen Fu: The Geisttiere Dwell in the Void | LEAP – Words: Ren Yue / Translated by Kevin Wu
To some extent, these personified figural elements of Fu’s paintings are “creatures that sprung from feelings” or, simply, “geisttiere (mind/spirit-animals).” They never wait in lines to be painted and seen; instead, they conceal themselves within a temporality that manifests no distinctions between the artist and the viewers, wandering like crepuscular shadows that just got separated from their owners. Of course, it is still possible to converse with them or even caress them-if you also happen to be doleful enough. When mingling with these geisttiere, Owen Fu employs varied linework as a vocabulary for chitchats. In his small-size paintings, a vase, or a teapot could become animated by charcoal lines and metamorphize into amicable or cunning avatars. These lines carry no intention to reify anything into concrete figures, yet it is within their “aimlessness” and “inaccuracies” that the transmutations of emotions take place: the painter casts the line with no particular aim, and his subjects willingly leap out of his memories and psyche to land onto the canvas. These “voluntary catches” are fragments of the artist’s genuine lived experience. Language is always inadequate:; the passing and accumulation of time blur certain experiences and reactions, but as the imprecisions manifest in the painting, they also create space for reinterpretations and evolve the artist’s initial feelings.
Cui Jie’s Solo Exhibition “New Model Village” – The Guardian | Words: Skye Sherwin
It was less the architecture that interested Cui, however, than “the elements that are nowhere to be found today: who used to live there, the communal lifestyle and intimacy between people. Unlike buildings, traces of life can easily fade away.” A number of her works explore how communities’ aspirations and ideology are shaped by our surroundings. In drawings, Caoyang’s social realist public statues – including weavers with arms raised like conquering divinities – merge with edifices from the Bata estate. Elsewhere, Bata and Caoyang’s cinemas blend. Although western and Chinese movies were poles apart politically, she points out “they were both ritual spaces where the public is to be collectively entranced. We can clearly see the aesthetic function of the statues: they reveal the ideal state of trance.”
Evelyn Taocheng Wang: Who is the master?｜Isabel Parkes
Wang is a rule bender. A commitment to fusing right with wrong, quotidian with institutional, and high with low courses through her practice. She inures herself to familiar formats in order to better interrupt her process of making and interpreting those formats This Trojan horse approach cultivates an active experience of looking that carefully conflates fantasy with melancholy, introspection with pop culture, and history with a version of the future that feels uncannily, at times unnervingly, familiar. ‘As an artist, I have lots of work to do to simply mix my two different elements: classical ones with new forms, new words, new body cultures, new national identities.’ Yet, as she adds, ‘All different elements can exist.’ Perhaps this is something to keep in mind when looking at Wang’s work: that the splintering or questioning it provokes, the natural light and the fake shadows, might together be signs of a new and fluid, if more dissonant, kind of coexistence.
Openings: Evelyn Taocheng Wang｜Karen Archey
THERE IS NO ONE THING that we could call the “immigrant experience,” but certainly everyone who has immigrated is familiar with how mundane misunderstandings can reveal cultural tectonics, of how humor can sometimes be mobilized to leaven pain. What’s the correct time of day to introduce yourself to a new neighbor? How earnestly should you respond to the question “How are you?” Will you come off as suspicious to the neighbors if your curtains remain drawn? The answers to these questions might seem relative or merely dependent on personal proclivity, yet one’s approach to these everyday situations constitutes, in part, the je ne sais quoi of national belonging. And while learning a new culture can be refined into a science, other qualities will still mark us as different, factors comprising who we are, where we come from, and our appearance.
Painting in the Time of Technophoria – On Zhou Siwei’s art practice and his latest solo exhibition “New Phone for Every Week” | Fiona He
What does an ordinary day look like for most us nowadays? You are likely to reach for your mobile phone before your mind is fully turned on. Your home screen, filled with notifications from last night while you slept, shines brighter than your serenading alarm. You get ready, and rush to the nearest subway station. With a swipe of your e-wallet on your phone, you hop on the subway while the transit fare is instantly deducted from your bank account. For that matter, you can hardly remember the last time you saw paper money. On your commute to work, you shuffle between the multiple messenger apps and social media platforms to catch up with the “world.” If time allows, you indulge in a few video clips on YouTube or even try to level up with your teammates in the “Honor of Kings.” Meanwhile, infomercials moving along subway cart windows with a few occasional glitches, as if the underground tunnels have built-in screens that stretch from one station to the next, compete for your attention. But you have long been indifferent, or even desensitized to advertisements, be they in motion, looped, or still. Once you get to work, whatever your job may be, it’s likely you operate on some kind of monitor, if not on multiples. Your proficiency in all of the devices at work is has become your second nature, which does not require any forethought. And, by the time you get off work, the city’s nocturnal atmosphere revels on with artificial stimuli that keep all of your sensory responses alive. Although you might not be able to identify the great dipper, but the night sky lusters with a constellation of hundreds of drones into silhouettes of images, glyph, or even propaganda slogans that are easier for you to recognize than the stars. The high-rise buildings and menacing towers, key players of the urban jungle in the daytime, contending for a city’s skyline, have now turned into plugged monoliths, on which infomercials roll on in endless syncopation. Well, you get the picture. In fact, a verbal narrative, or a single image would not suffice to portray our daily routine, and perhaps the reception of such narratives string together faster into a mental video clip than it’s told……
Zhou Siwei: Aesthetic Research | Bao Dong
Like many artists from the same generation, Zhou Siwei’s art practice departed from an intentional distancing from the academic and especially, the realist art. Chinese realist art usually has double identities, one is considered as aesthetic values and ideological contents, serving as the basis of art-related policy making which is supported and directed by political parties and the government. It used to be the only legitimate model, including reflectionism, class theory, exemplarism, namely a series of aesthetic principles beyond mediums and genres such as “content dictates form.” The second identity of realism is the methodology of realism that’s conducting the aesthetic form as such within art, based upon representational skills, centred upon historical figures while aiming at literary and social expressions. Extending towards the capillary tips, this methodology also includes painting geometric solids, plaster figures, heads and bodies, and finally the thematic works. In short, this is what’s still being taught in the conventional departments of every art school in China. The two identities of realism are interconnected, in fact, they are the same thing, in English Realism can mean both Xieshizhuyi and Xianshizhuyi.