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Empty Seat: Chinese Conceptual Photography

Weng Fen, Ji Zhou, Yang Yong, Jiang Zhi, Liu Yujia, Fan Xi, Amelie

3.25 - 4.29, 2017


Tang Contemporary Art is proud to announce that “Empty Seat: Chinese Conceptual Photography” will open in Bangkok on March 25. The exhibition brings together the conceptual artworks of Weng Fen, Ji Zhou, Yang Yong, Jiang Zhi, Liu Yujia, Fan Xi, and Amelie. The pictures made by these artists create a void between images and ideas; they have reserved a seat in the hopes that the viewer will fill this void.


Weng Fen is the most internationally influential Chinese photographic artist. A work from his Sitting on the Wall series was used for the Centre Pompidou’s poster for the “Alors, la Chine?” exhibition. Weng Fen’s works focus on the sweeping demolition and construction that has taken place in the course of China’s modernization, but they are the artist’s personal interpretations, not documentary photographs. The wall is a symbolic division between the new and old worlds; it is a conceptual framework, but it also creates imaginative space for viewers. Where are we going due to these great changes? How do old memories and histories dissipate?


Ji Zhou’s photographs are black, white, and grey, and the images are obliterated by grey dust. He used dust refine familiar scenes from our everyday lives into a simple and pure world, silent and profound. As a result, the pictures lose their narrative quality and are transformed into a stunning visual language in a vague time and space.


Yang Yong’s photographs more often present his observations of interior emotions. In Anonymous Stills and Nervousness, women are his primary subjects. They are women Yang’s own age who, like him, have put down roots in Shenzhen. In the last thirty years, this city has experienced intense globalization and urbanization, and the loneliness of these women has increased in this process. In Yang Yong’s works, “they wander all night, with nothing to do… Their dreams seem almost attainable, but are never realized.”


Love Letters is considered one of Jiang Zhi’s most important series. Jiang sprayed flowers with alcohol then lit them on fire, and in these images, open flowers burn in the flames. They present both the blossoming and withering of living things. Jiang once wrote, “I just want to make you happy, briefly, singing songs and talking, briefly.” Bao Dong wrote, “Jiang Zhi always consciously exists at the confluence of poetry and sociology. He works to transform our familiar daily lives and social experiences into the text of an artwork, while maintaining the tension between the two dimensions of everyday experience and textual experience.”


Liu Yujia’s work is entitled MacGuffin, after something immaterial or non-existent, and the desire or suspense that it triggers. It was one of Hitchcock’s trademarks. It is an unreal, pure facade, which forms the core of words, actions, and even the entire story. We will never know what the MacGuffin is or what it represents, we only care about what it “triggers.” (Excerpted from Liu Yujia’s personal statement)


Fan Xi’s tree-themed works are comprised of more than one hundred trees in a single location, photographed from different perspectives in the same period of time. She takes these trees as small, localized details, piecing them together on a computer. When the data is processed, the real environment disappears, and the new image creates a virtual reality outside of nature. They “are not the real image; they are digital combinations that can be changed.”


For Amelie, photography is more than a factual record. It is a constant practice of spiritual asceticism; it is writing poetry. Asceticism and poetry are indescribable, and she hopes to leave a fossil of every interaction she has with time and space, which can present these indescribable emotions. (Excerpted from Amelie’s personal statement)


The images made by these seven artists represent different types of constructive experiments. Through everyday objects that have been made unfamiliar, viewers come to know the personal experiences and emotions of the artists, and together with the artists, they cast off rules and restrictions and move towards freedom.

Fan Xi

The Tree - 2 Pigment Print on Linen Paper 160 × 224 cm 2014

Weng Fen

Staring at the Lake No.1 Photograph 125 × 165 cm 2004

Yang Yong

2011-On Edge-09-15 Photograph - Hahnemüehle Photo Rag EPSON 119.79 × 150 cm 2011

Yang Yong

2009 Anonymous Still-1 Photograph - Hahnemüehle Photo Rag EPSON 140 × 140 cm 2009

Jiang Zhi

Love Letters No.15 Archival Inkjet Print 180 × 135 cm 2014

Ji Zhou

Spectacle1 Pigment Print on Linen Paper 150 × 250 cm 2013





b.1979  Hainan, China


Themes of transformation, globalization, boundaries, and migration permeate the imagery of Chinese photographer Weng Fen (also known as Weng Peijun). In his understated pictures, vast, blue skies are predominately featured, and his compositions typically consist of an individual or small group of people, their backs to the camera. In some cases, these subjects look upon rising cityscapes, large bodies of water, or utopic natural landscapes, their bodies dwarfed by the scale and magnitude of their surroundings, whether that be human technology or nature’s wonder. As such, Weng conveys his ideals and hopes for contemporary China, its migrants, workers, children, and families. 




b.1970  Beijing, China


Ji Zhou's oeuvre explores fragmented and whole images, comprised of images of objects and installations that are not what they always appear to be. His series "Dust," which was exhibited extensively across Asian fairs and in New York's The Armory Show (2013), explores the perceived image of hand-assembled objects, rendered in monotonous grey as a mean to focus on the shape and form of these sculptures. In Ji's current series "Civilized Landscape," he explores illusory landscapes created by mankind: using maps and books, he sculpts mountains and skyscrapers in carefully placed installations before photographing the compositions. Through this illustration of the world, Ji Zhou constructs an understanding of the world around us. 




b.1975, Sichuan Province, China


Yang Yong graduated from the Sichuan Art institute (Chongqing, China) in 1995. He moved to Shenzhen in the early 1990s and he currently lives and works in Shenzhen and Beijing, China. With photography, installation and painting, Yang Yong is firmly recounting the stories of his own generation, born in the 1970s and grown up in the process of China’s opening and urbanization.





b.1971  Hunan, China


Videos, paintings, installations and photography, his seemingly disparate works find a common denominator through their treatment of body language, femininity, light, whiteness, and even theatricality. Through his series “Love Letters”, Jiang Zhi is confronting the timeless symbols of fire and flowers. The artist plays around with the codes of still lives by sublimating the flowers, embellishing them, presenting them in delicate vases or in front of flashy backdrops in order to destroy them with flames. These pictures of flowers in flames reveal a unique moment where extreme beauty and extreme violence encounter.




b.1981  Sichuan, China

A major part of her creation in art practice can be attributed to the use of a single and uninterrupted fixed lens as well as the post-editing of movement scenes. However, chasing scenes launched by an object (such as the airplane in The Third Man and the spinning gyro in The Progress of Ending) have also carried a lot of scenes and details with evolution and digressions. They have simultaneously emerged themselves in close-up shots and have thereby led into "gazing" scenes, just like what Jean-Luc Godard meant by mentioning fiction created by gazing in Introduction of Movie History, therefore introducing fiction.





b.1984, Beijing, China


Fan Xi graduated from the Department of Sculpture, CAFA, in 2009. In 2011, she began turning her practice from sculpture to photography and video. This exhibition shows a selection of her photographic works (over 100 pieces) across 2011 to 2016. There are 4 main sections: Time Length, Tree, Reduction of Image, and All Beings. In this large context, Fan Xi and her photography’s possibilities for each other have to do with knowing and perceiving the self. In her words, “Although the light and shadow may have disappeared, the ‘I’ is still here.”





b.1990, Guangzhou, China


For Amelie, taking photograph is a type of surreal experience that more than a mere record; it is the spiritual cultivation moment by moment, and a way of poem composing. Cultivation and Poem is beyond description. She wish that every time the intersection between the space-time and she can leave something that functions as the fossil, and presents the indescribable mood to the largest extent.Yang Yong graduated from the Sichuan Art institute (Chongqing, China) in 1995. He moved to Shenzhen in the early 1990s and he currently lives and works in Shenzhen and Beijing, China. With photography, installation and painting, Yang Yong is firmly recounting the stories of his own generation, born in the 1970s and grown up in the process of China’s opening and urbanization.



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