Transformation of Practices
Arx Lee (Li Chaoxiong), Wong Shun Kit, Zheng Guogu
04.23 - 05.23. 2020
The function of art is an everlasting debate in the art world. It becomes a vigorous topic again in the rage of coronavirus. In face of the tremendous turmoil, the whole world is looking for a coping solution by changing what exists, abandoning the old habits, and thinking what is feasible. Three contemporary artists, Zheng Guogu, Wong Shun Kit, Arx Lee, possess an adaptive manner which involves listening to the heart and going back to the fundamentals. Their creation evolves alongside their life experiences, and transforms into works with universal cognitive meanings.
The exhibition title dedicates to Zheng Guogu’s Transformation series. Shadakshari Lokeshvara is the bodhisattva of compassion. He is one of the important deities of Tibetan-buddhism with a supreme and revered status. The Tibetans believe, the civilization of the snowy land begins with the enlightenment of Shadakshari Lokeshvara. The thangka of the bodhisattva, a kind of refined colourful painting or textile which includes the deity and mandala, has a rigorous composition filled with metaphorical elements. The four arms of Shadakshari Lokeshvara refers to the four Buddhism awakening practices, pacifying, enriching, magnetizing and eliminating. With the rigorous image, ratio and gesture, they bear the moral of hailing and relieving pain, enriching fortune, magnetizing the universe and eliminating demons.
Devoted with sublime composition with symbolism, Zheng Guogu sets out an unfathomable visual journey rooted in religion and tradition with a balanced image of energetics, philosophy, colour theory and Yin Yang. The realm of Buddhism, the posture of Shadakshari Lokeshvara, even the moon disc and lotus throne are subject to the coordination of the artist. The result is a dazzling visualization of the deity in a mystical realm with a set of myriad palette that deems to benefit the balance of body and mind. Transformation of Shadakshari Lokeshvara is one of the elaborations from the artist’s former solo exhibition at New York Museum of Modern Art which aims to explore the influence of Western culture and digital technologies to Chinese contemporary life.
Also inspired by Buddhism imagery, Wong Shun Kit’s Buddha Heads series which started from 2013 has adopted the highest simplification. The silhouette of the buddha’s head, hair bun, outline of his face and earlobe, together with the flat colour block of three colours, have formed a clear and sharp symbolic motif. The bright colours constitute a visual power of minimalism, at the various combination of three colours has maximized the image to the greatest extent and given it a pop approach. Based on its symbolic meaning, the icons of Buddha head inspire the mass return to the energy of faith. The other series which themed with Hong Kong is a local observation and metacognition of the Shanghai artist towards Hong Kong since his relocation in 1983. From the artist’s perspective, the culture of Hong Kong has always enriched to a wider spectrum within a short time span. This series embodies the vivid personalized narration by Wong and expresses the psychology of people in face of abrupt social-cultural changes.
The portraiture paintings by Arx Lee has evolved alongside his state of mind. As a fan of the comic world, he projects himself into several comical characters. Bilibi in the first phase of his career is a naïve hero. He represents the ideals of every young men dreaming to be. Bumi means earth in the tonal expression of Sanskrit and his prototype was Priest Tang. Instead of being a sacred monk as depicted in “Journey to the West”, Bumi is a practitioner who wanders in dreams. His adventures in the dreams are therapies to him beyond the dream. The latest series by the artist, Girl Wearing A Hat, features an adolescence woman with innocence that is not sculpted. Her skin is depicted with a sense of warmth, with the signature romanticism by the artist. The artist once mentioned, “the image of the different characters represents my cognition and understanding towards the world, this exploration has continued for nearly a decade.” The pursuit and quest of dreams and truth in the ever-changing era, or as daily as how everyone copes with the unprecedented coronavirus times, will eventually be answered in our lives.
Arx Lee (Li Chaoxiong)
b.1978, Zhongshan, Guangdong Province, China
Now works and lives in Guangzhou
In the end of 1990s, Arx Lee has begun to present his early heroic romanticism works in group exhibitions in Canton, Beijing and Japan, even before his graduation from the oil painting department of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 2002. He has created multiple fantastical characters with elements of comics, narratives, religion and cultural references. The life and storyline of these characters develop alongside the artist’s mindscape and life experiences, as if they grow together. He pays tribute to photographer David Hamilton with his latest young lady paintings which are full of the aura of enlightenment in the poetic composition and a touch of warmth and serenity in his refined palette.
His recent major exhibitions include “The First China Illustration Art Exhibition”, Beijing Folk Arts Museum, Beijing, China, 2019; “Freeze Frame 21 Moments – Young Artists Invitation Exhibition, Southern Art Museum, Guangzhou, China, 2013; “CIGE 2012”, China World Trade Centre, Beijing, China, 2012; “Infinitely Close to the Front - A Contemporary Art Exhibition of ‘Death’”, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China, 2011.
Many of his works are treated as teaching references, being included in "Foundation Courses of Academy of Fine Arts", "Chinese Art Power Series" and "2002 Chinese Art Yearbook" etc. He is as well the author of multiple poetic and introspective graphic novels, including “City of Love Series 1 – Happiness at That Time”, “City of Love Series 2 – Xiao Xue”, “Bilibi” among 2004-2005 and “Buda-Pest” in 2010, the last one published in three languages. He is decorated with awards including Special award of 5th International Art Academies of Japan, Excellent Award of 1st Nokia Design Creative Competition, Gold Award of 2nd Nokia Design Creative Competition, the 2nd Guangdong Oil Painting Biennale Outstanding Work Award and his work was selected for the National Art Exhibition of China. Public collections include He Xiangning Art Museum, Art Museum of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts and Red Brick Art Museum.
Wong Shun Kit
b.1954, Shanghai, China
Now lives and works in Hong Kong
Wong Shun Kit graduated from Stage Design Department of Shanghai Theatre Academy, Shanghai, China in 1982. In the following year, he moved to Hong Kong. He creates not only from the perspectives of a contemporary artist but also in multiple identities as curator of museums and biennials and social activist. He founded the Commune of Art, Hong Kong in 1996 and served as Chairman of Visual Arts Committee of Hong Kong Arts Development Council, to name a few contributions he made to Hong Kong art scene. His artistic language evolves from abstraction to multimedia conceptual art, to the social landscape in the past 7 years. His works presents a scope as an individual in the society and raise questions from multiple angles.
Recent exhibitions include “The Gaze of History – Contemporary Chinese Art Revisited”, Jupiter Museum of Art, Shenzhen, China, 2019; “STA PHENOMENON - inspiration and development”, Long Museum, Shanghai, China, 2015; “China Arte Brazil”, OCA, São Paulo, Brazil, 2014; “Voice of the Unseen - Documentary Exhibition of the Parallel exhibition of the 55th Venice Biennial”, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China, 2014; “Turn to Abstract: Retrospective of Shanghai Experimental Art From 1976 to 1985”, Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, China, 2008.
He has also curated numerous important exhibitions and events, such as the 56th Venice Biennale Parallel Exhibition "Shanshui Society - Mapping Future". He co-curated the 54th Venice Biennale Hong Kong Pavilion in 2014 and “Dun Huang-Song of Living Being” exhibition in Shanghai in 2015. He has also served as the General Director of the Powerlong Museum, Director of the Shanghai Himalayas Museum. He continues to be both an accomplished artist and curator in Hong Kong and throughout China. He received ‘the Artist of Year Award’ of Hong Kong in 1997, Hong Kong Urban Council Fine Art Award in 1988, ‘International Visual Arts Award by United States of Information Agency & Mid America Art Alliance USA’ in 1991. Wong was invited as a US visiting scholar upon receiving Starr Fellowship award from the Asian Cultural Council.
b.1970, Yangjiang, Guangdong Province, China
Zheng Guogu lives and works in Yangjiang, Guangdong Province, China. He graduated from Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 1992, and was a founding member of Yangjiang Group, an art collective focusing on experimental Chinese calligraphy, founded in 2002.
Zheng Guogu sets out experimentation based in tradition. Religion, philosophy, Yin and Yang, balance of energy are some of the key inspiration to his practice and daily lives. He re-fashions elements of thangkas into a hallucinatory image using digital technologies. The buddhist images are layered and transcended with a set of palette that deems to benefit the balance of body and mind.
Zheng has participated in many significant international exhibitions, including Visionary Transformation, MoMA PS1, 2019; Art and China After 1989: Theater of the World, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 2017; Social Factory - 10th Shanghai Biennale, 2014; Farewell to Post- Colonialism - 3rd Guangzhou Triennial, 2008; documenta 12, Kassel, 2007; Brave New Worlds, Walker Art Center, 2007; and Canton Express in Zone of Urgency, 50th Venice Biennale, 2003. His recent solo exhibitions include The Winding Path to Trueness, Mirrored Gardens, Guangzhou, 2017; Where energy inhabits?, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris, 2016; Visionary Transformation, VeneKlasen/Werner, Berlin, 2015; and Ubiquitous Plasma, OCAT Xi'an, 2015. He received the Best Artist Award from the Chinese Contemporary Art Awards in 2006.