“portraiture, the art of representing the physical or psychological likeness of a real or imaginary individual. The principal portrait media are painting, drawing, sculpture, and photography. From earliest times the portrait has been considered a means to immortality. Many cultures have attributed magical properties to the portrait: symbolization of the majesty or authority of the subject, substitution for a deceased individual's living presence or theft of the soul of the living subject.”
Presenting: Li Rui, Fan Jiupeng, and Dai Guangyu
Three artists explore genre or portraiture, each of them using very specific techniques which tap into a vast Chinese cultural heritage and could be considered appropriations of certain traditional crafts or studies of beauty that in their hands develop an absolutely fresh direction.
Fan Jiupeng’s double-sided paintings recall the aesthetics of the more than four hundred yea- old practice of double-sided embroidery. He observes the nuances of situational portraiture, often placing himself into the scene, even as his subjects remain utterly preoccupied with themselves. Oblivious to the viewer, they go on with their daily routines with a certain naiveness, allowing the viewer to peep in at their ordinary mise en scenes.
Li Rui’s characters are painted inside glass using a mirror technique which references the Chinese naiveté realism of miniature within glass paintings. Li Rui, with her young spirit, takes a more social anthropological approach by pulling the ‘masks’ off people, unveiling their social constraints, and revealing what lurks behind their superficial needs and ideals.
Dai Guangyu’s reworking of his materials, his technique of drawing and tearing, reconstructing and redrawing is a new approach to painting on rice paper. He recreates his self portrait piece by piece in a decrypting manner. As he faces the public, he looks straight into the viewer’s face, approaching intimacy and a keen awareness of you – the viewer.
Guess, what we are all about?
How do we behold ourselves in a mirror? What kind of judgement would I come up with by seeing this girl holding that man’s hand sitting on a park bench in Wuxuan? In Makhado? What do you think when you see this man talking to himself, gesticulating with his mouth? Or this lady combing her hair with her eyes narrowed?
Right Eye, Left Leg is an exhibition at ifa gallery presenting three artists expressing their new works in portraits:
Li Rui, born in 1985, graduated in summer 2011, is exhibiting for the first time in a gallery.
Fan Jiupeng is 30 years old this year, and has been widely shown in China including several previous exhibitions at ifa gallery.
Dai Guangyu, born in 1955, one of the leaders of the avant-garde movement during the 80’s, previously presented a solo exhibition at ifa gallery in 2008, and has been shown all over Europe and the USA.
Working within traditional realism on canvas during her studies, in this exhibition Li Rui explores a new medium using combinations of joined small glass sauce pots from the 80’s, casting expressions to construct portraits, stretching them across the glass, and rendering a double interpretation of a portrait, what she considers a tangible mask, through the transparency of a glass.
Using a technique of transparency and double interpretation of portraitures, Fan Jiupeng, influenced by his former teacher and great artist, Liu Xiaodong, represents relationship through expressionism with a touch of surrealism. Expressionism is portrayed on one side of huge transparency tracing papers, while the perspective becomes surrealist on the other side. The viewer travels from the reality of a scene to an imagination of the same scene by looking at one side and then the other of the same painting on a single sheet of paper.
This exhibition is consummated by the master Dai Guanyu, who dedicated the last two years to the development of a new series of paintings. This new series is about destruction in the past and re-assemblage in the present time, altering a specific image of a distinct reality. Working with traditional painting models and traditional methods, Dai extends this reconstruction to portraiture and self-portraiture, coding the facial features and expressions.
From the right eye to the left leg, Li Rui, Dai Guanyu and Fan Jiupeng depict different visions of the expressions of individuals in their paintings; anonymous people (laobaixing) and/or themselves in their own contexts and from that of the viewers.