CHEN WEI, "Ping Pong", 2011, archival inkjet print, 150 x 200 cm, edition of 6

June 3rd through to August 5th, 2012
VIP Reception June 3rd, 2012, 4-6pm

LEO XU PROJECTS is pleased to present “More” for the first solo presentation of Beijing-based photographer Chen Wei since 2009. Set across the gallery’s three floor, this exhibition features an extensive body of Chen Wei’s work from the recent few years. Exploring the development of his photographic practices, the show follows his previously complex cinematic and narrative pieces, to his present larger focus on the artist’s handcrafted quotidian objects within a more simplistic works evocative of theatrical sets and still life painting. Furthermore, this exhibition also provides a rare performative insight into Chen Wei’s experimental processes of artistic production.

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CHENG RAN, "1971 - 2000", 2012, Single channel video with sound, 7 min 47 sec, Edition of 6

April 22nd through May 27th, 2012

“Cheng Ran: What Why How” is the first solo exhibition in Shanghai of Hangzhou-based Cheng Ran, a young artist critically acclaimed for his distinctive visual language and style that connects the cinema with relevant cultures of the time. The show runs from April 22nd through May 27th 2012, and will be accompanied by a catalogue and off-site projects initiated and produced by the artist.

Titled after a video Cheng Ran made in 2010, the exhibition “What Why How” premieres four latest videos produced over the past year. “What Why How”, as the artist observes, refers to both a pattern for study and the analytical thinking adopted in the stock market. Parodying the way Western films’ titles are translated into Chinese in Hong Kong, Cheng Ran transliterated this three-word term and lends it identity of a fictional male character. As the video “What Why How” examines the significance of life and belief through the protagonist repeatedly questioning and conversing with himself, the show—with a deliberate absence of this eponymous video—continues the artist’s recent probe and narrows the focus onto his philosophy of motion pictures.

For this exhibition, the ground floor gallery is transformed into a cinema with presentation of two single-channel videos that mark the centerpieces of the show. “1971-2000” (2012) opens up a box of memories of the cinematic classics that have left enormous impact on Cheng and his peers who would access contemporary cinema through second-hand resources, bootleg products and much recently the internet. Appropriating iconic elements from “A Clockwork Orange” (Stanely Kubrick, 1971) and “The Million Dollar Hotel” (Wim Wenders, 2000), the artist created a new film of a young man throwing himself off the rooftop, which however reconciles the contradicting beliefs and viewpoints in these two classics.

The other video “Angels for the Millennium (#6)” (2012) filmed an unlikely rescue in deep water. When projected upside down, the whole process—the drowning man ascends peacefully and slowly, later attended by lifeguards—only makes for a tranquil and sacred rite. Mimicking Bill Viola’s historic video installation “Five Angels for the Millennium” (2001), the work voices the response of Cheng Ran as a young Chinese artist to the parameter of video art set by Western pioneers, whose works are more read and heard about among the Chinese. The video also references the British thriller “The Prisoner” (Patrick McGoohan, 1967), in which the protagonist a secret agent named “Number Six” makes every effort of escaping the mysteriously isolated dystopian “village” he is held captive in. Confessional and redemptive, Cheng’s Angel Number Six marks the line between belief and indoctrination.

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JÉRÔME BEL, "Cédric Andrieux", 2009, Video, 87 min 49 sec

February 19th through April 8th, 2012

Artists: Jérôme Bel, Cheng Ran, Guo Hongwei, Hu Xiangqian, Li Qing, Liu Chuang, Mei Yuangui, Wolfgang Tillmans, Fred Tomaselli, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Danh Vo, Yang Fudong, Zhou Haiying.

“Boy: A Contemporary Portrait” juxtaposes recent and commissioned new works by contemporary visual artists with a selection of works of contemporary dance, fashion photography and mid-20th century’s documentary photography, etc.

Boy, as Oxford Dictionary suggests, also refers to “a man, especially a young or relatively young one”. The first decade of the 21st century sees a transforming representation of men in different cultures, media and regions. This exhibition attempts to portray young men of the time and to redefine the manhood within a global context.

Since the early 1990s, celebrated German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans has been exploring—through his photographs and his involvement in publication—the range of gestures and physicality that have become the distinguishing characteristics of young men in visual culture. His wall installation on view comprises of eight representative photographs he made between 2000 and 2010. Through his signature way of display, the set of photographs constitutes a visual fiction in a first-person narrative that reveals the emotional, sensual and intellectual aspects of young men’s life. Intimate and earnest, French choreographer Jérôme Bel’s critically acclaimed “Cédric Andrieux” (2009) provides a choreographed account that portrays a contemporary dancer’s life and career and outlines the relationship between the performer and the dance as a medium.

The exhibition includes a series of male portraits that are multifaceted and conceptual. Beijing-based Liu Chuang’s “Buying Everything On You” (2007) assembles all the possessions he acquired from a passer-by, which are laid out on a plinth in a way reminiscent of taxonomical or criminal research. Danh Vo, a Vietnamese-born conceptual artist produced specifically for the show a gilded Bud Light beer packaging (“Bud Lite”, 2012) and makes it a metaphor for the experience of being a young man in the consumer culture. “Faith” (2006) a double-channel video installation commissioned for Liverpool Biennale 2006, continues the award-winning Thai filmmaker and video artist Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s experiment in visualizing a man’s innermost world. “Faith is a tender portrait of lost love and transformation. Surrounded by perpetual change and the fear of new memories replacing old, a man dreams for an eternal place, where the image of his loved ones can live on,” the artist comments. In his commissioned new work, Hangzhou-based video artist Cheng Ran filmed a lone man driving a car donned in flowers on a night journey. The piece references Derek Jarman’s film “Blue” and his diary “Modern Nature”, and pays homage to the late British filmmaker.

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Cui Jie, Bar, 2011, Oil on canvas, 100 x 130 cm

December 3rd 2011 through February 5th 2012

Artists: Cui Jie, Li Shurui, Zhang Jungang & Li Jie

“Cui Jie, Li Shurui, Zhang Jungang & Li Jie” features recent works by Beijing-based Cui Jie and Li Shurui and Harbin-based duo Zhang Jungang & Lijie, and gives a perceptive account of the relationship between their life and contemporary landscape.

Known for her early works that question the truth in reality through unlikely marriage of images on canvas (for instance, an astronaut walking in Forbidden City, or a group of beauty queens posing for photo shoot in the Moon), Cui Jie has steered her focus to the study of forms and figure-ground relationship by a body of new paintings that magnify architectural details. Inspired by the multiple exposures in Orson Welles’ films, Cui painted a world composed of fragments from urban landscape and, in a few cases, layers of grids, lines and other graphic patterns. Though set in Beijing, subjects in her landscape paintings look like elsewhere in any possible contemporary cities, representing a sense of déjà vu and alienation.

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Installation view. Photography: Justin.


September 9th through November 27th, 2011 VIP reception: Friday September 9th, 6-8pm

Artists: Chen Wei, Cheng Ran, Guo Hongwei, Gabriel Lester, He An, Liang Yuanwei, Liu Wei, Sun Xun, Wang Yuyang


LEO XU PROJECTS is pleased to present group exhibition “Sweet Dreams (are made of this)” for the gallery’s inaugural show, featuring a selection of commissioned works from Liang Yuanwei, Chen Wei, Cheng Ran, Guo Hongwei, Wang Yuyuang as well was pieces by Liu Wei and Sun Xun. Also on view are the re-staging of two classic pieces by He An and Gabriel Lester. The show runs from September 9th through to November 27th.

Referencing the 1983 hit from British music-duo Eurythmics of the same name, the exhibition takes the lyrics of “Sweet Dreams” as a foundation in which to explore and portray the oddities of both the utopian and dystopian-like elements of our everyday lives wherein “everybody’s looking for something”. In a time where the world feels increasingly small, this exhibition asks the presented artists to ponder the development of “relationships”, whether it be to themselves, to others, to society, from culture to culture or to their studio practices, especially with regards to the ever-changing visions of society, and of present reality.
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