Everyday Frenzies 躁动人生
As Liu Dao 六岛 unveiled the first part of the new multi-media series at Beijing’s Green T. House, island6 inaugurated the second installment in Shanghai. Shan Shui art is at the very core of the Everyday Frenzies exhibition, where Chinese tradition mends elegantly with modern technology.
Although the worlds
of Jin and Song Dynasty poets such as Xie Lingyun 谢灵运 and painters like Wen Tianxiang 文天祥 have changed in terms of infrastructure, culture, and economy, the aspirations of many like-minded artists remain the same today: to survey overwhelming surroundings and overcome fear, to harness chaos through pen or brush, and to find peace in one's mind and serenity in one's heart.
To today’s urbanites, "water mountain pictures" of their ancestors may be irrelevant, but have they been forgotten by the 21st century? Viewing life from the bottom of a subway station or the top of the World Financial Center, today's city dwellers might be oblivious to their ancestral art. Liu Dao’s innovative artwork mixes shan shui with pop art, blends rice paper with video installations, and fuses traditional paper cutting craft with LED displays, presenting the everyday frenzies of modern China, the complex mix of history and contemporaneity that marks cities as living beings.
In shan shui mixed with pop art, rice paper mixed with video, and paper cutting mixed with LEDs, island6 presents the everyday frenzies of contemporary China, the complex mix of history and contemporaneity that marks cities as living beings. In island6's arresting images, amalgamations of qipaos and pole-dancers, crumbling structures and untouched valleys make sense. In close reverence to shan shui masters, and in expectation of the Chinese art of tomorrow, the art is very much of its time. Every scene bears different contours, fresh angles, and new perspectives. In traditional shan shui paintings, three key elements are required: a path that meanders with the page to draw the viewer into the scene, a threshold that receives the viewers and welcomes them in, and the heart that forms the focus of the image and to which all elements lead. The maze of Shanghai, as Liu Dao sees it, has all of these features embedded naturally. Every glimpse is a natural wonder and, like a shan shui hand scroll, slowly reveals its complex and beautiful stories.
The infamous metaphor for the Chinese metropolis that is the "Shanghai Lady" is pictured in Shanghai Itch. The familiar figure reminds of Marilyn Monroe-like fashion, signal of a newer, more modern American society. Similarly, Shanghai moves freely and lightly and flirts with the Yangtze River winds. The breeze seems playful, teased by the many cultural changes occurring in her only to realize it is he that brings about the changed woman through his powerful, yet gentle, strokes. She poses, standing as a beacon for the rest of China. She lures all who are tempted to adventure into the luscious valleys and unexplored territories of her body.
The exhibition takes its title
from "Laments of the Gorges" by the 8th-century poet Meng Chiao 孟郊 (translated
by David Hinton):
Water swords and spears raging in gorges,
boats drift across heaving thunder. Here
in the hands of these serpents and snakes,
you face everyday frenzies of wind and rain
(The Late Poems of Meng Chiao, trans. David Hinton [Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1996], 38.)
[Brittney O'Neill, Pete Bradt, and Clare Jacobson]