Participating Artists Zhang Hongtu, Su Xiaobai, Yao Jui-Chung, Su Meng-Hung
Preview｜2021.05.05 11:00-19:00, 2021.05.06 11:00-19:00
Public｜2021.05.07 11:00-19:00, 2021.05.08 11:00-19:00, 2021.05.09 11:00-17:00
After a tumultuous year of an ongoing global pandemic, Frieze finally unveils its very first physical art fair since the Covid outbreak: Frieze New York at The Shed. Honored to be the only Greater Chinese representative among the 60-plus blue-chip galleries that show at the fair, Tina Keng Gallery is pleased to present Zhang Hongtu (b. 1943), Su Xiaobai (b. 1949), Yao Jui-Chung (b. 1969), and Su Meng-Hung (b. 1976). Their diverse body of work showcases contemporary artistic explorations by Greater Chinese artists in deconstructing and reconstructing traditional cultural symbolism. Unraveling the strata of history and the symbolism of artistic media, their works grapple with two-dimensional imagery and abstract space. The spirit of the brush and ink, and Eastern philosophies that permeate the practices of these artists respond to the transcultural context of contemporary art through a gaze at the culture that birthed and cradled their artistic intuition.
Zhang Hongtu, who has lived in the United States for almost four decades, is versatile in his exploration of the stylistic possibility, convergence and tension between the East and the West. The oil painting series “Bison” captures the unique history and journey of migration that characterizes the lifestyle of the bison, a native species of North America. It is also a reference to Zhang’s immigration from China to the U.S. The urban jungle in the background resembles the composition of classical Chinese landscape painting. This stylistic presentation not only typifies Zhang’s ongoing experimentation of different cultural aesthetics, but also captures the searing poetics of the human condition in the ravaging pandemic, where ambivalence unavoidably occurs as the familiar is entangled with the unknown.
In Su Xiaobai’s hand, lacquer — a thousand-year-old plant material and a symbol of Eastern culture — embodies the concept of existence, posing a philosophical discourse on our daily life through the artist’s poetic transformation. The artist paints layers of vibrantly colored lacquer in a structural and balanced composition, rendering a three-dimensional momentum. The seemingly arbitrary, yet meticulously deliberate handling of visual forms reveals the artist’s pursuit of aesthetics and his personal sense of reinvention.
Su’s 2020 series is suffused with a crispness accentuated by the bright and light colors that dominate his works. The layers of lacquer coalesce into a textured grace rendered by the repeated act of overlaying and washing away the antediluvian medium. The textured grace reverberates with a rebellious spirit that has come to define Su Xiaobai’s practice in the tumultuous year — an urge to gallivant in a realm manifested through the sheer force of artistic creation.
Transforming the aesthetics of traditional Chinese landscape painting, Yao Jui-Chung’s idiosyncratic landscape paintings boast resplendent landscapes, accentuating absurd narratives, which rebel against classic ink painting. The use of technical pens supersedes the traditional calligraphy brush, shaping a unique style of Yao’s reinterpretation of painting tradition. As if in contrast with the upheaval during today’s grim times, the artist translates ancient masterpieces into witty, trivial personal anecdotes in the form of faux shanshui, ultimately upending the orthodoxy that undergirds literati painting.
Su Meng-Hung takes famous Chinese paintings as templates, fusing abstract expressionism with automatism manifested in splashed ink landscape. In crafting the sensory and material character of his lacqueresque work, Su develops an ambiguous visual style, often eluding the true implications of his referents — as seen in the still life paintings, flower and bird paintings, and the erotic paintings referenced by him — by detaching and fragmenting them. In re-contextualizing these symbols, he dissociates them from their original historical significance. Amid the myriad Eastern decorative patterns, the reading of abstract painting is instilled with literati charm that beckons the viewer to revel in the fabric of aesthetics.
Delving into Eastern culture, the respective practices of the four artists oscillate between Chinese traditional aesthetics and contemporary painting, making their works a natural representation of a cross-cultural experience. Unique Asian perspectives scintillate in an eclectic array of artworks, refracted through the philosophical underpinnings of the artists’ aesthetic consciousness. Well-versed in their individualized languages of abstract painting and of new ink art, together these four artists exemplify the diverse styles of Greater Chinese contemporary art nurtured in a globalized context.