ShanghART (9 Lock Road, #02-22, Gillman Barracks, Singapore 108937) Dec 20, 2013–Feb 3, 2014
Slipping (as usual, with apparent effortlessness) into the new year, ShanghART’s Singapore branch was recently host to an eclectic mixture of work in paint, photography, animation and installation by some of the more tenacious (though not all the loudest) names in Chinese art—Ding Yi, MadeIn Company, Shi Qing, Sun Xun, Shi Yong, Tang Maohong, Zhang Enli and Zhou Tiehai.
The topic is spectacle, after Guy Debord, combined with the choice of smaller works by artists who have also created large, so-called “spectacular” ones. The mood amongst them is smart, thoughtful and economical. Searching beneath the surface of, for example, a canvas saturated in crosses (Ding Yi), a wall crowded with small, badly-painted vignettes dictated by a kind of French dessert (Zhou Tiehai), or a small synthetic tent with a church spire on each side (MadeIn Company), one finds a depth of sardonic comment and confident observation. Indeed, this show might not have been so much about spectacle itself as anti-spectacle—the forms employed here seem to imply the crude shapes of society, surfaces and saturation; see also, for example, the little plaster mounds composing Shi Qing’s Volcano Museum series (2013) and Shi Yong’s photographic print of a gallery opening, crowed with identical guests—himself (“The Moon Will Be Seen Tonight–Gallery Scenery No.1”, 2002).
Debord has it that everything that surrounds us in society has been replaced by its own representation. This should indeed be a thrilling idea for artists; it was effectively turned over and channeled into different media through the works in this show, based on the subtle and different accounts of the individual participants.