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Hanart TZ Gallery(汉雅轩)
2016.07.22 Fri - 2016.08.27 Sat
Opening Exhibition
401 Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong (Central MTR Exit D)
T: +(852) 2526.9019; F: +(852) 2521.2001
Opening Hours
(Mon-Fri) 10 am to 6:30 pm
(Sat) 10 am to 6 pm
(Sun & Public Holidays) Closed
Chang Tsong-zung (Johnson Chang)

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Annals of Floating Island
[Press Release]

Artists’ Reception
Friday, 22 July 2016, 6 to 8pm

Exhibition Period
22July – 27 August 2016

Curators Song Zhenxi and Zhang Cheng

Participating Artists
Guo Xi + Zhang Jianling, Gong Xu, Zhu Xi, Feng
Chen , Hong Dan, Shao Wenhuan, and Tong Yixin

Academic Partner Art Bureau of Investigation (ABI)

Hanart TZ Gallery proudly presents Annals of Floating Island, a special group exhibition of works by 8 young artists who are graduates of the progressive, cross-disciplinary programmes of the China Academy of Art, in Hangzhou. The exhibition is curated by SONG Zhenxi and ZHANG Cheng, and opens on 22 July 2016.

Curatorial Statement
This exhibition focuses on paradigms of constructing discourses about authenticity and creativity. Through the participating artists’ projects and artworks, we can discern their attempts at fresh articulations of ‘truthful narratives’, in which the threads of the virtual are interwoven with the experiences of the actual, and where the boundaries between so-called ‘absolute reality’ and ‘absolute fiction’ are blurred. The artists confront issues such as the reading of history, perceptual illusion, inter-subjectivity and inter-objectivity, and creativity as the product of ideology. Through these confrontations, they seek to create a new kind of discourse that is both informed by and revolves around the state of uncertainty.

This desire to restructure ‘truth’ or ‘authenticity’ results from the artists’ sense of collective purpose based on the particular reality of their life experience during this era. This experience is a complex construction of the intercourse between the secondary life lived within the virtual world of the Internet and the primary life lived within reality; the ubiquitous presence and encroachment of consumer society; and the cultural impoverishment and juxtapositions brought about by an increasingly globalized economy. The result is a state of extreme disruption and fragmentation of perception, sensory experience, judgment and creativity, where boundaries are increasingly blurred.

Through their processes of exploration, the artists seek to establish a new definition of ‘the believable’ that is relevant to their generation; and at the same time, to reorganize the logic of ‘the known’ by providing new feedback of their ‘encounters’ along the way.

The key image of this exhibition is the ‘floating island’, an unanchored existential space that drifts across the ocean. The implications of this image include not only the constant motion of sailing across vast spaces, but also the act of navigating through unknown worlds. It also symbolizes the existence of a small sanctuary for hope and imagination within these ‘uncertain’ times.
The title of the exhibition, Annals of Floating Island (Fudao zhi in Chinese), links together the artists’ projects and physical artworks as both records and historical products of the worlds contained within the floating islands. There is a double entendre here in the use of the character zhi in the Chinese title, which can also mean ‘purpose’: It hints at the purpose of the artists to represent the collective power of their generation as they seek to give a new definition to the ocean of the ‘known’.

Curated by

SONG Zhenxi (b.1985, Wuhan)
Song Zhenxi was born in Wuhan, Hubei province in 1985. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from the China Academy of Art (CAA) in 2008, and his Master’s degree from CAA’s Institute of Contemporary Art and Social Thoughts in 2012. He is currently the curatorial director of CAA’s Media City Research Centre and chief of the Art Bureau of Investigation (ABI). His primary focus is on the condition and development of young contemporary artists and art theory research.

ZHANG Cheng (b.1990, Hangzhou)
Zhang Cheng was born in 1990 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the Zhejiang University of Media and Communications in 2012, and her Master’s degree from the China Academy of Art’s Institute of Contemporary Art and Social Thoughts in 2016. Zhang currently lives and works in Hangzhou, where she focuses on curatorial practice, academic publishing and interactive social projects within online communities.

GUO Xi (b.1988, Yancheng)
Guo Xi was born in Yancheng, Jiangsu province in 1988. He graduated from the Department of New Media Art of the China Academy of Art in 2010, and was the artist-in- residence at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in the Netherlands for two years. In 2015, Guo received a Master’s degree in Studio Art from New York University.
ZHANG Jianling (b.1986, Wuhan)
Zhang Jianling was born in Wuhan in 1986, and is currently based in Shanghai. She graduated from Wuhan University in 2008, and in 2013 received her Master’s degree from the School of Intermedia Art of the Institute of Contemporary Art and Social Thoughts, China Academy of Art.

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GUO Xi + ZHANG Jianling The Grand Voyage (detail) 2014 to present Installation: Video, Photography, Objects, Texts, Prints, Sound Dimensions variable Image Courtesy of the Artists

Artwork Description

In the summer of 2014, Guo Xi and Zhang Jianling began a long-term collaboration called ‘The Blue Trilogy’ in which the ‘colour of the era’ is the core theme. The Grand Voyage is the first chapter and the keynote, characterized by a romantic spirit among which multiple images are intertwined: The infinity of light blue, the silhouette of the gazer, a poet vanishing in the ocean etc. Before departure, the artists wrote and released twelve prophecies that will happen during a world cruise: These stories not only reflect potential routes to the theme but also serve as an index leading to infinite texts and endless interpretations. From March to May 2015, tracing the sensory experience and mysterious disappearance of Bas Jan Ader and Arthur Cravan, the artists’ journey searched for vanished gazes and solitary figures that once reached out to tangible infinity and then disappeared in the ocean. As witnesses, the artists brought back to the continent visual testimonies that they collected along the way. In a series of future exhibitions, Guo Xi and Zhang Jianling will gradually break open the labyrinth of narration by unpacking one thousand parcels and corresponding characters dwelling within. In the constellation of image-evidence-text, their memories will be brought to light.

GONG Xu (b.1986, Shanghai)

Gong Xu was born in Shanghai in 1986. He graduated from the Affiliated Senior High School of the China Academy of Art (CAA) in 2006, and received a Bachelor’s degree from CAA’s Oil Painting Department in 2010. His first solo exhibition, The Flight of Birds and Crawling of Snakes, was held in Beijing in 2012, followed by Zodiac Explosion at OCAT Xi’an in 2015. Gong Xu fuses traditional Chinese elements with references to pop culture to create a unique narrative in his works.

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The Bird People – G4, G5 and G6
2015 Mixed Media 52 x 52 cm EACH Image Courtesy of the Artist

Artwork Description

The ‘Bird People’ are an idealized life form that can survive with complete freedom within any environment, whether natural, societal or political. At the same time, they are a failed evolutionary form in that they are unable to adapt completely to any of these environments. As such, the Bird People have had to begin a process of evolutionary adaptation of their abnormal form. The ‘G’ designation represents one particular series of Bird People. The original motivation for creating the Bird People was the development of a new mythical imaginary, a creature with abilities similar to that of the Thunder God (Leishen) of Chinese traditional mythology (who is depicted as having the head of a bird and the body of a man, and is in charge of sending thunder to the heavens). In China, the earliest myths were recorded in the ancient text, Shanhaijing (Classic of Mountain and Seas). (In those times, the notion of ‘gods’ was not yet recognized). The Shanhaijing included mythical images such as that of the Dragon King and the Queen Mother of the West, among many others. In the depictions of these entities recorded in the Shanhaijing, they do not have predominantly human forms; to the contrary, the images in fact incorporate very few humanoid features. As social life evolved, depictions of gods, deities and strange creatures increasingly took on human features, but what is interesting is that the behaviour of these increasingly humanized beings was always considered to be above that of humans. Gods and deities always exist in an anarchic, depoliticized state. Yet when they were bandied about in popular culture, they were always infused with human traits and human desires, so that over time the evolutionary direction of this race of ‘the gods’ has tended towards secularity rather than divinity. Ultimately these gods have become the highest representations of both the political state and the individual consciousness.

ZHU Xi (b.1983, Shanghai)

Zhu Xi was born in Shanghai in 1983. He graduated from the Shanghai Arts and Crafts College in 2002, and went on to complete a Bachelor’s degree in the Department of Comprehensive Art of China Academy of Art (CAA) in 2006, as well as a Master’s degree from the CAA’s School of Intermedia Art in 2012. Zhu’s solo exhibition Song of the Conqueror was held in Macau in 2011, followed by his show Cold Rhyme (Beijing, 2013). His artworks consist of installation and painting, and employ a narrative language of symbols to allow for a remarkable level of clarity in storytelling, with a strong poetic element.

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ZHU Xi Laboratory for Metamorphosis 2014
Installation: Iron, Light Bulb, Paper, Butterfly, Sugar, Glass Beaker, Copper 85 x 65 x 25 cm Image Courtesy of the Artist

Artwork Description

This work is part of the artist’s Laboratory series, and deals with the process of metamorphosis. A butterfly chrysalis, placed inside a glass laboratory beaker, slowly begins to transform; the white sugar crystals provide liquid, and the hot light bulbs provide warmth. Inside this space that seemingly provides the conditions for the process of metamorphosis, it will either break free from the chrysalis and emerge, or else it will cease to struggle in the very last second before it could burst through its walls.

FENG Chen (b. 1986, Wuhan)

Feng Chen was born in Wuhan, Hubei province in 1986, and is currently based in Amsterdam. He graduated from the China Academy of Art in 2009. In his works, Feng Chen experiments with the use of different materials in an attempt to capture and concretize the way humans experience perception and sensation, and at the same time he seeks to create a new visual logic that will open the narrative of human sensory experience. Feng’s works have been exhibited internationally, and are included in a number of institutional collections, including the White Rabbit Contemporary Chinese Art Collection in Australia and the Shanghai Art Museum.

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FENG Chen C (detail) 2016 Installation: Paper, Thermal Ink 47 x 44 x 30 cm Image Courtesy of the Artist

Artwork Description

I recently have been experimenting with using with diverse media to produce videos. There is more than one way to approach it, which means not only by using, for example, the projector, TV monitor, or VCR. In fact, I’m very much interested in the way the appearance and disappearance of images may impact people’s sensation and perception. This is why I have experimented with the use of thermal ink, for example, which can change color according to fluctuations in the external temperature. The changing images infuse the artworks with a sense of the passage of time, a process which has caused me to rethink the relationship between the video image and human sensory experience.

HONG Dan (b.1982, Pujiang)

Hong Dan was born in Pujiang, Zhejiang Province in 1982. He graduated from the College of Fine Arts of Zhejiang Normal University in 2004 with a Bachelor’s degree in oil painting. In 2014 he received a Master’s degree from the Fifth Studio, Department of Oil Painting of the China Academy of Art. Hong is currently a lecturer in the Department of Animation, Zhejiang University of Media and Communication. His work merges calligraphic brushwork and collage to create non-semantic ink forms, delivering a contemporary interpretation of Chinese literati painting.

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HONG Dan Imitation Amber 2015 Mixed Media 70 x 180 cm Image Courtesy of the Artist

Artwork Description

In a time when visual images have invaded every area of our lives, painting can be described as merely knocking at the side doors of society. Our gaze simply brushes over objects, with time enough only to capture the shadowy images projected from their surfaces. Yet even these shadowy traces are still breathing with a kind of poetic breath, even if they are dim and bleak. Here we implement a kind of poetic archaeology to excavate these damaged, corroded things, seeking to safeguard these shadows of time, and to preserve the weight of their presence. We hope to aid them to give off a luster like that of amber, so that their faint and mysterious inner light can shine through.

SHAO Wenhuan (b.1974, Hetian)

Shao Wenhuan was born in Hetian, Xinjiang in 1974, and is based in Hangzhou. He is currently a lecturer in the Department of Photography at the China Academy of Art. Shao’s practice involves the use of extensive painting in the post-production of photographic works, blending the techniques of traditional photography and painting to form a new language to create and present images.

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SHAO Wenhuan
Like Something that Never Happened 1, 2, 3 2013 – 2016
3D rendering with integrated techniques, gelatin silver on satin
50 x 60 cm EACH (Dimensions variable)
Image Courtesy of the Artist

Artwork Description

The series Like Something that Never Happened undertakes the reconsideration of traditional culture from another perspective. The artist uses a sketching technique to reproduce images from traditional landscape paintings, and then manipulates the sketches using 3D software to create a new kind of virtual reality. Visually, the resulting synthesized landscapes appear to have the same kind of high-resolution veracity of photographic images—yet the only place they have ever existed before is in paintings. Today many of the landscape images we paint are actually based not on the objects themselves but on reproductions or representations we have seen. These virtual, synthetic images are in fact the opposite of ‘painting’ or ‘sketching from nature’, but on the other hand photography intrinsically has the same kind of quality of re- presentation as does painting or sketching from nature, and this series of works seeks to underscore this kind of illogical contradiction. The subjects represented in these works cannot exist in reality, yet at the same time they have a certain natural link with reality and with tradition. This creates a sense of intimacy that is yet contradicted by a feeling of separation created by the vast expanse of chilly autumnal water that surrounds the mountains, transforming them into isolated islands—echoing the strange and awkward relationship of both intimacy and alienation that we have with traditional culture itself. This lonely island is the artist’s spiritual playground; perhaps it is also the ideal world that he struggles to reach, and maybe never will.

TONG Yixin (b. 1988, Lushan)

Tong Yixin was born in Lushan, Jiangxi Province in 1988. He received a Master’s degree in Studio Art from New York University in 2014, and is currently based in New York. Tong creates a narrative that is simultaneously poetic and absurd, using multimedia installation, site-specific projects, Internet art, music and writing, exploring the contradictory notion of romanticism in a time dominated by rationalism and capital.

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TONG Yixin The Description of a Whale (detail) 2013 Book: Softcover, B/W, 122 pp. 15 x 23 cm Image Courtesy of the Artist

Artwork Description

In this book, the images repetitively display a gesture of whales surfacing from water, mostly spyhopping, a behavior motivated by curiosity and the intention for interaction. In fact, taken during the explorer Richard Byrd’s first and second Antarctica expeditions, the original photographs of breaching whales themselves record the moments of encounter between the whales and humans. Before the white-out process, the original text was compiled from the index of the Collection Boxes of the Archival Program’s Register of the Papers of Admiral Richard E. Byrd, located at Ohio State University’s Byrd Polar Research Center. The text describes both the content and the material qualities of the archival footage related to Byrd’s Antarctic expeditions. Men looking into long fissures in the ground, crews digging in the snow under a plane, scratches and dirt on emulsion, punched-out numbers on tape: these details could exist continuously in one paragraph. The text provides a sense of context for the contemplation of the whales.