• HERE - Photography Exhibition
    Artist: Chen Nong, Li Yue, Wang Tong
    Opening: 2007.07.21 / 16:00
    Duration: 2007.07.21 - 2007.08.31 / 10:00 - 18:00
    Venue: OFOTO Gallery. 2F, Building 13, 50 Moganshan Rd., Shanghai

    Here - About Past, Present and Future
    by Zhu Jiong
    Came to “Here” bar, will have a drink and talk with friends. It often started from remembering the past to chat about the present and then to dream of the future. 

    Using the images to ‘talk’, Wang Tong, Chen Nong and Li Yue have their own ways of language and expressions. The funny thing is, they are often inspired by each other’s thoughts, even sometimes using same location for the artwork, but they produce completely different images through their own visual language. Their thoughts towards the ‘past’ are always left on the images; they use their creativities to present the ‘now’ and suggest the ‘future’ which has a close relationship with memory and history. 
    Wang Tong’s focus is always the silent wall. The walls in his images call out in a voice resonating with the society and the time. Wall is part of the construction, from room to a city, or to a country, it defines the space to which it supports and protects. As public walls, they are also the platform for points of view and concepts, slogans from the government, graffiti from the rebels, commercial adverts or artworks from the artists… At those moments, the wall supports the ideologies, voices and people of the time.
    The wall in Wang Tong’s “Construct a Harmonious Society” is huge, it strikes us with its “harmonious society”. The colorful, sharp, realistic nature of photography is not only the efficient tool for Wang Tong to work in, but also the powerful expression for national propaganda. In visual language, words are the abstract pattern although the content of the words will bring us, the people who live in mainland China, familiar lively pictures of the society and characters of the time, therefore to understand better of the subject. Wang Tong’s creativity lies in transferring the abstract words to the sensitivity, by enlarging the scale of the artwork and to show the details on the wall. This wall as the background has two layers of meaning of time, one is its own ‘life time’, the color and texture of the wall represent its own past, presence and future; meanwhile it also continuously spreads the abstract ever-changing governmental policies to the public. “Family Planning” policy portrayed through simple lively folk animation had been on the wall for a long time. The wall has lots of unclear traces of the words, patterns that had been there for a long time. The past was fussy, but can’t be undone and the presence is strong, like it used to be. For its future, the silent wall has already given us the hint.  
    Time is non linier to Chen Nong. His images are always closely linked with the past, representing historic scenes in present spaces and the future as an allegory. In another words, the ‘past’, the ‘present’ and the ‘future’ exist at the same time in his images.
    This is a historical scroll of the future. Immigrants and removal is the key connection from the future to the past. Chen Nong transfers the immigrants to terra cotta figures by giving them a ‘shell’ of paper costume. The Three Gorges that had cultivated Chinese poems throughout history inspires sadness for the heavy starring from the immigrants. It is no longer the landscape with eternal spirit but the cranes, reservoir, buildings that nearly fall apart and rubbish on the ground everywhere instead. Human beings are paying for our developments. It seems we always have to bury something to make significant history.
    Chen Nong’s artwork seems to be between painting and photography both from texture and the atmosphere of the images. The usage of film, tri-pot and fiber paper shows his passion for traditional photography. Actors, making of the paper costume, staged set-up for the shoot are typical ways for contemporary art. The photographs pigmented by hand covers the original realistic feel of the image; particularly the color of the sky, tones of the sun/moon is from his subjective interpretation. The live status of nature has completely altered, is there any more importance of what is real and what is fantasy?  
    There is one important element in this tragedy series to represent the uncertain positive side, it is those women standing by the terra cotta soldiers. They have children in the basket on their back, some are looking curiously towards the camera. If the terra cotta soldiers represent the tragedy of the immigrants, those women out of the context in the picture are then the hope of the tragedy.
    Being different from the two artists above, Li Yue’s images don’t have the social content and context. All past, present and future only relate to the individual lives. Therefore, Li Yue’s micro and macro becomes one. 
    The blue night sky sparkles, the umbrella soldiers falling from the sky, everywhere, fast surfing, dizzy…This might be a boy’s fantasy or stereotyped scenes in the computer game, or the documentary from the military, or the film stills from a Hollywood movie. Li Yue is fascinated by the micro and macro elements, reality and the uncertainty. Digital production makes the real and fantasy complimentary. 
    The empty field is the location for Li Yue’s image, it is also where time disappears. At this empty world, there is a group of people playing with a group of dolphins. This is a loving scene, ‘pulling rope’ game, ‘eagle catching chick’ game, all these lovely recollections in our collective memories. The concept of time appears again but stuck and lingering in the past. The jumping of dolphins represents the freedom of human spirits. The field becomes pure and endless. Like the sparkles when looking straight into the sun, Li Yue brings us the rare, fulfilled excitements from our beautiful memories.  
    Li Yue makes himself as a painter or a lonely walker in his work. His soul like a dolphin is jumping freely. The whole picture has a feel of when the world was initially formed, with the effect of low contrast and dark sky. Although it is not clear but there is space for all possible imagination. The field is the dream for future, the start of the form and the end. In Li Yue’s world, there is no present.

    Li Yue started using digital to create artwork a long time ago. His lack of constraint from formal structures and techniques brings him more freedom for creativity. His images give us the real dreaming feeling. It makes us believe that the happiness can be shared just like those people playing games in his artwork.