The Hayward Gallery’s Project Space is presenting an exhibition of the Chinese artist Sun Xun. Titled ‘Yesterday is Tomorrow’,it is the artist’s first solo show in a UK public institution. Sun compiles series of meticulously hand-drawn animations to create mesmerising films that carry a complex and underlying political narrative. His works blur the lines between art and animation by juxtaposing traditional materials and techniques with contemporary digital strategy.
As a prelude for this exhibition Sun Xun will create a new series of wall drawings in ink and charcoal. They will introduce the animations presented within the show– a selection of black-and-white and colour animations, including 21 KE [21 Grams] (2010). The latter is one of his best-known works and the first ever Chinese animation to be shown at the Venice Film Festival. Sun’s animated films weave reality with fantasy while exploring history and the passage of time.
Ancient Chinese techniques of printmaking, drawing and calligraphy lie at the heart of Sun’s practice; often he incorporates both text and images in his illustrations. Drawn on the pages of old Communist newspapers and magazines, or on canvas and silk, his works subtly refer to aspects of the propaganda he was bombarded with while growing up in small province in the North East of China. Filming these drawings frame by frame, and incorporating dramatic classical music, he creates entrancing flickering effects and multilayered textures. By using fluid narratives and intricate metaphors, Sun delves into political history and collective memory.
Born in 1980 in Fuxin, China, Sun Xun currently lives in Beijing. After studying printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou and lecturing at the same prestigious academy, Sun founded π animation studio in 2006. Sun Xun is widely considered one of China’s most talented rising artists, having been awarded several established prizes including the Arts Fellowship by Citivella Ranieri Foundation (Italy). His solo exhibitions include: Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; The Drawing Centre, New York and Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel. His work has also been included in Liverpool Biennial and China Power Station at Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo.