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Red Gate Gallery(红门画廊)
2015.11.07 Sat - 2015.11.29 Sun
Opening Exhibition
Levels 1 & 4 Dongbianmen Watchtower Dongcheng, Beijing(北京东城区崇文门东大街东便门角楼)
+86 10 6525 1005
Opening Hours
Everyday 9am-5pm
Brian Wallace

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Death is Going Home – Red Gate Gallery
[Press Release]

On April 4th 2015, Tao Hongjing passed away in a mysterious construction site accident while conducting research for his next project. Unlike the Taoism legend of roosters crowing and dogs barking when someone dies, he went to heaven at dawn in complete silence.


Tao Hongjing’s last works seem like an ironic prediction of the future. “Ghost City” – a paper-made model of a city in the afterworld – came to his imagination. Ghost City is a world upside down; it’s the destination of our ephemeral lives. No one knows if it actually exists or if it’s purely a reflection of our fondness for life and refusal to die. The possibility of the existence of the afterworld is as fragile as paper – the material it’s made of. By burning disposable articles as a form of sacrifice, people believe they can convey materials and necessities from our world to that of the dead.


陶弘景, 冥币 No. 1, 2015, 相纸喷绘, 铝框, 150 x 75 cm


Like a modern Dante, Tao Hongjing has a polarized and mirrored vision of the world. “Hell Money” and “Paper Objects” are satirical imitations of the world we live in. People fantasize that after death they will keep consuming paper iPhones, paper iPads, and paper MacBook Pros, as well as grand houses and luxury cars. They keep indulging their lust in the afterworld.


Tao Hongjing’s last pieces echo his earliest ones. “Heaven and Earth” is black and white, showing the principle of ying and yang. Between heaven and hell there is our world, where most people don’t care about nature, and only believe that “To Get Rich is Glorious”. Prosperity is built on ruined buildings; consumerism is everywhere. People work overtime, worry incessantly, suffer from sleeping disorders, and do everything in a hurry. They want to own everything, and simultaneously everything owns them.


If the value of life is equal to that of money, the landscapes seen on “Places I Have Never Been To” are only a symbol of RMB. Currencies go from hand to hand but never truly affect users’ life experiences. Most people have never visited the landscapes, as they aren’t certain of the existence of “Hell Money” – which mirrors the neon installation “To Get Rich”. It symbolizes that death is not the opposite of life; rather, death is a part of life. Lust keeps taking over us; it may change its form but it never vanishes.


陶弘景 Tao Hongjing, 先富起来 To get Rich is Glorious, 2006, 霓虹灯装置 Neon installation, 尺寸可变 Various size


Tao Hongjing had been watching the city lusting for wealth before his death. He thought it resembled a monster destroying people’s warm memories. “Safety First” is formed by a red stamp of his name. Each stamp desires certainty of life, however, Tao Hongjing had to face the final uncertainty of his life that caused his death.


One witness said Tao Hongjing yelled “Amithaba” when the fatal accident happened. Hopefully he saw the beautiful, infinite and endless light of Buddha on his final moments, because Amithaba is the Buddha of infinite radiance. Dead or alive, the experience of Tao Hongjing continues.


Life and death are unpredictable and inevitable.


Life is just a long drama; Death is the way back home.


Life is dream walking; Death is going home.

About the artist:

Tao Hongjing was born in Jiangsu Province, China in 1979.

After graduating from the Shanghai Theatre Academy, he studied in the prestigious Beaux-Arts School in France.

His work overviews the economic changes affecting China. He passed away on April 4th, 2015 at the age of 36 during research for his final project.


陶弘景 Tao Hongjing, 佛头 Buddha Head, 2011, 陶瓷, 10克拉金, Procelain, 10k gold, 30 x 30 x 40 cm


About the curators:

Alexandre Ouairy is a French artist and curator. He has exhibited in Palais de Tokyo, Lyon Biennale and Moscow Moma. He has curated shows in France, Japan and China. He focuses mainly on the legal & regulative system in design, urbanism and social behaviors. He lives in Shanghai where he teaches Contemporary Art and Visual Studies at the Shanghai Theatre Academy.