THE "2012 Martell Artists of the Year" exhibition tour stopped at Shanghai Art Museum this week. As the last stop on a nationwide tour that included Beijing and Guangzhou of south China's Guangdong Province, the exhibition features the creations of Ye Yongqing, Xiang Jing, Liu Wei and Philip-Lorca diCorcia.
Ye is a high-profile contemporary artist. He makes exquisite use of Western artistic language to interpret classic Eastern concepts of beauty. Using humor, absurdity and spontaneity he uses simple lines through delicate combinations of minute triangular ink-blots to depict birds and landscapes. However, on first sight, his paintings appear much like the scribbles of a kid, thus Ye has often been criticized.
"I don't paint for others to decipher my work. I just paint to answer the call of my inner emotions," Ye once said when asked about his art.
Liu, one of China's most important conceptual artists, has also encountered misunderstandings about his art.
The order of things is a subject Liu consistently explores. Liu believes what we see is not necessarily what is real, that surface arrangements do not represent true beauty, and that the one true driving force only comes from within ourselves, or, rather from a place that can't be seen. Thus, he has resolved to subvert the established order that people already accept to show the truest possible artistic beauty.
For example, his work "Merely a Mistake II" juxtaposes old building materials of different colors and wood textures to a complex and odd effect, emanating a dynamic and harmonious beauty.
The highlight of the exhibition goes to a series of life-size acrobat figures created by Xiang, a young female sculptor. Grounded in "human" tenderness and razor-sharp perception, she uses natural forms to investigate issues essential to the world and humanity. Her works focus on direct experiences. Through meticulous observation and emotional rendering of humanity, the artist rediscovers an original human purity and reflects on the complicated impact the environment places on human beings.
Her latest series on acrobats and animals downplays the specifics in current social conditions, evoking a profound sympathy. Due to her sensitivity, Xiang is quick to capture a "moment" in life that easily resonates with viewers through a combination of both cutting-edge and traditional artistic techniques.
DiCorcia, an American photographer, utilizes shadow to fabricate scenes from life, completely redefining what's known in photography as the decisive moment. For example, he meshes reality and illusion, juxtaposing conflicting senses of artistic beauty in random snapshots of pedestrians in the street. The photographer says, "For every thousand individuals, you have 1,000 different kinds of lives."