Li Ming, Rendering the Mind, 2017, video still
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LEAP 7

Two bulky television sets atop a second-hand writing desk greet visitors to this highly staged exhibition of historic video art, backs turned toward each other. On the first runs a 1985 loop of performance clips from Shanghai’s M Group, in which artists Song Haidong and Qian Weikang do things like burn self-portraits and turn a…

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“Against Easy Listening” is New York-based curator Steven Lam’s second of two exhibitions for 1a Space as part of his curatorial residency with the nonprofit organization. The title of the show, which includes artists from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, lays out the premise clearly: it’s an opposition to simple or passive…

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Jin Shan’s solo exhibition at Platform China Contemporary Art Institute is a live demonstration of a long-term plan. “One Man’s Island” is comprised of two component parts: fifty video “diaries” shot by Jin Shan in his studio, and a manuscript containing tens of thousands of words written during the same period. The project played out,…

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For their Beijing debut, the Indian duo of Thukral & Tagra transformed the UCCA’s middle hall into a spectacle in their signature style of “Punjabi Baroque.” With white retro furniture, warm family photos, glass crystal ornaments, and cheap kitschy artificial flowers meticulously arranged; red safflowers blooming against a blue wall-paper background; Kabbadi (a form of…

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The telling and re-telling of fables, tall tales, and mythologies can conjure visions at once delightful and terrifying. Too often the fantastic becomes grotesque, the mystical monstrous, and the everyday surreal. Wu Junyong’s recent show dips into the horrible pleasures of the misread idiom, deploying image-symbols of downtrodden clowns, cranes, textless books, flutes, and pointed…

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In “The Seduction of Village” some new ideas arise that are worthy of attention. Due to Duan Jianyu’s bias towards text and narration, general commentary may liken her work to contemporary rhetoric—which, in some respects, it embodies. In one narrative series, Duan depicts a village woman nursing—a simple image that reappears before three separate backgrounds:…

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At once meticulous and good-humored, David Diao’s twelve boldly colored canvases on view in Antwerp presented a succinct midcareer synopsis, bookended by references to the American painter Robert Motherwell. The works on view date from 1986 through 2010, beginning with two excerpts from Diao’s mid-1980s “Little Suprematist Prisons” series, whose hard-edged geometric compositions stage an…

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Chen Wenji’s solo exhibition, held by the Central Academy of Fine Arts, is divided into two parts; the main gallery features his most recent work, while the secondary space displays his early works. It is clear that the curator chose this layout in order to linearly showcase the evolution of Chen Wenji’s comprehensive body of…

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Nadim Abbas, in his first complete solo exhibition, brilliantly composes a scene that so resists interpretation that the viewer defaults into passive observation, submitting to a flaccid presentation of spectacle in the absence of any plausible guiding narrative. Several of the artist’s earlier projects fall into the category of conceptual assemblage, consisting of fragments of…

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Liu Chuang is skilled at unearthing what is hidden beneath the surface of life’s quotidian systems. In doing so, he unmasks these systems as an apparatus that controls the perception of time, ensures the production of history, and protects the perpetuation of the species. And the moment they are questioned or doubted, their institutionalized essence…

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Walking up the grand staircase of the China Club in Hong Kong offers a crash course in contemporary art in China. One after another appear works by artists now seen as key protagonists in a story that was only starting to unfold when the place first opened in 1991. And there, inserted among all the…

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The first iteration of “Liu Ding’s Store” was conceived in the project “Take Home and Create Whatever Is the Priceless Image in Your Heart,” exhibited in 2008 at the Arnolfini gallery in Bristol, England. Liu Ding commissioned artists from the Dafen oil painting village outside Shenzhen to recreate a floating visual motif on a blank…

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Artists organizing events around the disparate interests of people outside the art world proper can lead to some fascinating convergences of concerns. (Of course, a deft hand is needed to satisfy the demands of such varied constituencies.) Emi Uemura’s “Country Fair,” initiated last year in Beijing with Vitamin Creative Space, is a successful example. A…

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“One Project. Two Sites.” Curator Josef Ng warned viewers at the start that Lin Yilin’s project, carried out in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, would present two utterly different sides of itself. And in the end, he was right. In the Chiang Mai countryside, Lin Yilin highlights the utopian connotations of the “Land Project,” guiding his…

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In October 2009, Shenzhen-based photographer Bai Xiaoci began an expedition. He sought out public buildings built in major construction projects led by local governments—“government edifices”—around China and shot large-scale frontal portraits of them. He visited more than half of China’s provinces, traveling north to Hohhot, south to Shenzhen, east to Shanghai, and west to Chengdu,…

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The 2008 Guangzhou Triennial’s “Farewell to Post-Colonialism” initiated discourse on a potential conclusion to the post-colonial epoch. “Days of Our Lives,” Wong Hoy Cheong’s solo exhibition at Taipei Eslite Gallery, was thus a kind of farewell ceremony, yet one with a strong sense of irony. In the video work Dog Hole (2010), Wong Hoy Cheong…

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Beginning on October 19, 1981, a four-day conference for the sixth Aga Khan Award for Architecture was held in Beijing. The topic of discussion was “The Changing Rural Habitat,” which remains a meaningful and relevant topic to this day. The conference was divided into two components. The first presented case studies: “Rural Architecture in the…

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Starting with its title, Bulgarian artist Nedko Solakov’s recent outing at Continua bespoke a dubious ambivalence toward a bygone system. Spread across the entire two-floor space, Solakov’s noncommittal stance is effectively revealed in the wide range of media presented— video, painting, graffiti, and writing—through which the artist filters his convoluted if honest ideas about art…

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Zhang Xiaogang and Mao Xuhui have been close friends since they were first acquainted in Yunnan in the late 1970s. Early on, their artistic practices and trajectories in life overlapped considerably. Around the time of the ’85 New Wave, the “New Figurative Art” exhibition was born, and later the “Southwest Art Group.” Even after Zhang’s…

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I hire models for nearly all my paintings, but sometimes I also find subjects through friends or acquaintances. A few days ago I was at a Prada party, and I saw a very pretty woman, so I took her photo. I collect these materials, but I don’t use everything. Some remain just as ideas. When…

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LEAP 47 | Spring/Summer 2018

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