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"Seasons of Silk" by Liu Dao "Study for Birth of Earth and Sky" by Liu Dao "Easternmost Bay of Lake Malaren" by Liu Dao "Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai" by Liu Dao "I was their Queen" by Liu Dao "Lightweight Charm" by Liu Dao
"Gaojia" by Liu Dao "Aima Under The Water" by Liu Dao "Chinese Witch Hazel" by Liu Dao

Everyday Frenzies 躁动人生

As part of a running art theme, island6 unveils a series of multimedia artworks featuring electric patterns flowing through shan shui ("water mountain") pictures and aligning contemporary media with the timeless passion of Chinese landscape painting and poetry.

Beijing's Green T. House, with its beautifully coordinated art direction, is a perfect location for this theme. Everyday Frenzies opened on June 14, 2011, with a vernissage held by Green T. House directors JinR and Robbie Gilchrist with Red Gate Gallery directors Brian Wallace and Liyu Yeo, and attended by Australian Ambassador Dr. Geoff Raby as well as members of the island6 team.

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.

In Everyday Frenzies, shan shui cliffs are replaced by skyscrapers and rivers by roads. Still, the most spiritual of Song-era painters, like Zhang Zeduan 张择端, who once captured busy life in the city of Kaifeng, would see the island6 collective's infusion of headlights and streetlamps into the penjing landscape of trees and waterfalls as an ode to urbanism that unites man with his surroundings in sublime acceptance.

Beneath Shanghai's ultracontemporary surface lies a thick layer of history, filled with teapots and dragons and ghosts. Viewing life from the bottom of a subway station or the top of the World Financial Center, today's city dwellers might forget the water mountain pictures of their ancestors. Deep rivers leading up to snow-covered peaks may seem irrelevant to 2011 culture, but are they ever? Culture is continuous, with remnants of one era affecting the next.

The continuity of culture is central to "Study for Birth of Earth and Sky" (施行巫术), where a modern-day Sumo wrestler performs a creation story from Annals of Dobuki. The 506 CE story is presented in an age-old sport, represented in LEDs. Its audience might be unfamiliar with both the story and the sport, but still affected by the strength of meaning that the simple lights convey.

Shan shui art need not actually represent a recognizable scene in reality but instead serves primarily to illuminate and express the ethical and mental state of the artist. In today's cityscapes, mountains and rivers are replaced by unfeeling concrete; the fluidity and complexity of form required to convey internal states is found only in ourselves. 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 path, threshold, and heart of "Gaojia" (高架) are more abstract and enigmatic than those of classical shan shui. The traditional elements might possibly be read as the path of a elevated highway, the climax of that path, and the tree that holds the highway—and the artwork—together. Or the viewer might see more symbolic elements in the work: the path of a city from village to metropolis, the threshold between past and future, and the biological nature that centers the experience. Mixed media of LEDs, Chinese paper cutting, and rice paper collage stained with tea allow for multiple readings.

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.

The naked swimmer at the center of "Easternmost Bay of Lake Mälaren" (美兰湖的东岸) enters the frenzied world of Surrealism as she takes a Daliesque dip through the waters of an LED interface. The streets or grass she normally strides over melt into liquid form to show footage of her body falling from an unspoken height into water and crashing along, as a star in the island6 reinterpretation of the collaboration between Dalí and photographer Philippe Halsman, Dalí Atomicus. The photograph, which shows the Catalan artist suspended in air while cats fly from buckets of water around him, is referenced as a point of inspiration for work that questions the powers of science in art. With the naked swimmer in the unusual physical scenario of RGB representation, Surrealism and fantasy are brought together in an animated artwork that celebrates the nature of our modern world.

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]

"Everyday Frenzies" with Red Gate Gallery at the Green T. House "Everyday Frenzies" (躁动人生)
DATES From June 14th to July 14th 2011
CURATORS Brittney O’Neill, Loo Ching Ling 吕晶琳 & Brian Wallace
ART DIRECTION JinR 錦儿 & Thomas Charvériat
SCENOGRAPHY Robbie Gilchrist and Liyu Yeo 杨来耀
ORGANIZATION Red Gate Gallery, island6 and Green T. House
COORDINATION Zhang Leihua 张雷华, Qian Hongmei 钱红梅, and Yeung Sin Ching 杨倩菁
WRITERS Brittney O'Neill, Pete Bradt, and Clare Jacobson
VENUE Green T. House, 6 Gongti Xilu, Chaoyang District
ARTISTS

The Art Collective Liu Dao 六岛

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As part of a running art theme, island6 unveils a series of multimedia artworks featuring electric patterns flowing through shan shui ("water mountain") pictures and aligning contemporary media with the timeless passion of Chinese landscape painting and poetry. (read more >>>)

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island6 is a philanthropic project founded by artists and managed by voluntary staff. The spirit & driving force behind all of island6's works and art-forward exhibitions is collaboration.
六岛是由艺术家自发创立, 由志愿者管理的公益艺术机构。其精神是为艺术家提供平台并支持各项协作项目。