The Fine Art Society Contemporary is presenting the work of two bright young stars of the Beijing art world, Chi Ming and J S Tan. Following on from their joint exhibition with Atkins & Ai Gallery, Beijing, last year, Testing Freedom’s Temperature will mark the London debut for both artists.
Visually the artists differ, but explore the same pervading themes of their young post-Mao generation and raise questions about the implications of China’s economic and cultural change. For two decades Chinese youth have lived, unlike their elders, without the ‘religion of Mao’. Theirs is a new culture with bigger boundaries and rampant materialism.
Shandong-born artist Chi Ming presents a unique snapshot of his generation, blending everyday realism with a mildly surreal approach to figurative painting. His grandfather and his father both
painted in the service of Mao Zedong. Following their creative footsteps, Chi Ming moved to Beijing in 2001 to study at The Central Academy of Fine Arts. Chi’s creative environment was dominated by the prolific painter and professor Liu Xiaodong, whose fluid and narrative style of realism rode against the wave of Political Pop and Cynical Realism. Chi went on to forge his own brand of realism, pursuing emotional honesty over innovation for innovation’s sake, and a philosophy of mankind as “earth-bound”. He is personally championed by Liu Xiaodong, who has spoken of Chi Ming’s works as “delicate poetic language to convey complex emotions”.
For Chi Ming, China’s rapid era of economic change delivered one form of freedom but also a new imprisonment under materialism and cultural dissipation. The urge for freedom takes shape in Chi Ming’s works as a defiance of accepted social norms, distorted perspectives and in some cases, a sublimation of reality, dancing between
Realism, Surrealism and Romanticism. The parallel of reality to theatricality in Chi Ming’s body of works reveals a desire to treat life with the same hallowed reverence that directors and actors reserve for the stage.
Born in Hong Kong, raised in Beijing and educated in the United States, J S Tan has departed his early interest in figuration, for a series of enigmatic charcoal drawings and inks where shapes and lines, bricks and wire and unnamable objects float in space. With the meticulous gradation of a monochromatic palette, Tan begins to liberate from the breakdown of man- made hierarchies into the order and security of unchanging geometric laws.
In his conceptually rich practice, Tan also incorporates computer science, design and art theory. As both a student and a practitioner at Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University, U.S., he cites the digital design guru John Maeda as a major influence. Tan has embraced a new world of “magic”, programming vast, sprawling digital universes. For Tan, technology presents an alternative opportunity for creative play. The longing for other worlds, once satisfied by religion and visions of heaven, is now being answered by virtual universes with new social architecture and identities.
“The works of J S Tan and Chi Ming, in radically different ways, harbour the stirrings of a complex adaptive reaction to the de-centering of our modern institutions. The honesty of their felt experience and their ability to explore dialectics in their art are a testimony of their talent as artists and as bold forerunners of a generation in transition.” – Michelle Ho (Atkins & Ai Gallery Writer)
CHI MING born in Yantai, Shandong Province, China and currently living and working in Beijing. Graduated from The Central Academy of Fine Art in 2008, and from The Oil Academy Department of The Central Academy of Fine Art in 2011. Exhibitions have included Testing Freedom’s Temperature, dual exhibition with J S Tan at Atkins & Ai Gallery, Beijing (2012-13), CafaM Future at The Central Academy of Fine Art Museum, Beijing (2012), Face at Minsheng Bank Art Museum, Shanghai (2012), The Start of a Long Journey at The Central Academy of Fine Art, Beijing (2011), Affordable Art Fair, 798 District, Beijing (2011) and Strength of School, group exhibition at The Central Academy of Fine Art Musuem, Beijing (2007). His work forms part of the public collections of Liu Xiaodong Collection, Beijing, Minsheng Bank Collection, China and The Central Academy Fine Art Museum Collection, Beijing.
J S TAN Born in Hong Kong and now living and working in the U.S.A. Currently undertaking a Bachelor of Arts at Brown University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Providence, U.S.A. Exhibitions have included Testing Freedom’s Temperature, dual exhibition with Chi Ming at Atkins & Ai Gallery Beijing (2012-2013), A Culture of Entitlement, solo exhibition, Atkins & Ai Gallery, Beijing (2011-2012) and a group show at Western Academy of Beijing (2010). His work forms part of the public collections of Chevron Corporate Collection, Nanjing and Beijing, China, Standard Chartered Bank, New York, and Western Academy of Beijing, China.
Photo: Chi Ming, Red Handprint, 2011 J S Tan Study of Space 1, 2011
TESTING FREEDOM’S TEMPERATURE Chi Ming and J S Tan 3 – 26 JULY 2013 The Fine Art Society 148 New Bond Street, London, W1S 2JT