November 25th through December 30th 2012
LEO XU PROJECTS is pleased to present the gallery’s first solo exhibition of Beijing-based painter Cui Jie. Featuring recent works from two different series, this exhibition explores the carefully composed elements of Cui Jie’s artistic sensibility. Comparing and contrasting both the artist’s architectural and figurative paintings, this exhibition presents the spectrum of painting she works across, to explore her means of creative production.
Having spent her entire life living within cities, the Shanghainese native employs her architectural series as a means to reflect on her daily experiences of close observations on urban fabrication. Drawn to the modernist architectural styles of bauhaus and art deco amongst others, she combines the natural disarray of China’s cityscapes with her own imagined structural elements and careful mix of saturated and lucent colours, to create a semi-realist urban landscape through the scope of the artist’s eyes. For instance, in Jiu Xian Bridge Market (2012) the artist depicts a Beijing shopping mall “INDIGO” located near the city’s art district, but alters the lines of perspective, and rids various facets and elements of each built construction, as to create an almost science-fiction like scene, reflecting the artists own personal perspective of the omnipresence of change in her immediate environment.
Displayed opposite the aforementioned work is Telecom Building (2012), reflecting the positioning and geographical juxtaposition of the two landscapes in real life. The haphazard landscape of multiple structures and architectural styles, as seen with the pedestrian bridge and various office and residential buildings – featuring post-modern and communist-era reinterpretations of bauhaus styles – is layered in a quietly futuristic light. By merging all separate elements through ridding and diffusing parts to create an almost one-dimensional subject, Cui emphasises the metropolis ideals of the city, and the ever changing landscape of urban areas.
In Office (2012), Cui Jie moves her architectural eye into the internal world, whilst simultaneously drawing it back out into the external environment. The complex composition sees electrical power lines at above the viewpoint sit perpendicular to the sturdy golden office cubicles below, epitomising Cui’s ability to create a limitless and lawless environment wherein lines of perspective head in every possible direction, and the internal and external spheres are merged into one. Combined with the lack of the building’s framing walls to separate the interior to the exterior, the worlds that would have been separated via architecture, merge into a boundless landscape reflecting life in the cosmopolitan arena.
Despite the focus of a specific building in contrast to the larger landscapes of her architectural works, Kindergarten (2012) exemplifies the language in which the artist works in. Taking nearly two years to complete, the work features Cui’s signature technique of applying multiple layers of heavy and dense sculptural brushwork, allowing the canvas itself to transform into an almost sculptural work, mimicking the irregularities of construction sites. It is through this language and technique that allows Cui’s architectural paintings to reflect not only her everyday life, but also of the environment in which the artist wants to build to surround herself.
In contrast to the calculated process of the artist’s architectural series, her figurative works stem from an accident during the artist’s attempt at destroying her set of representative paintings. Through painting and tracing the silhouettes of the human figures she had already depicted in her works, Cui Jie discovered that she had altered the relationship between the figure and the background, going against the normative method of figurative and realist painting, which places emphasis on the dominance of the full image and setting. By simply creating a series of outlines and patterns for her subjects, Cui Jie detaches the figures from the third dimensional world of the paintings, thereby not only reflecting the development in which cinematic and photographic technology has allowed for completely separate settings and subjects to exist in a single frame, but also altering the hierarchy between figure and ground in all representative mediums. Despite the obvious differences in subject between the two series, both hold clear Cui’s artistic pledges to take an interest in every single component, and detail their individual and collective importance within the larger image and meaning.
Cui Jie (b. 1984, Shanghai, China) currently lives and works in Beijing, China. She has been featured across a number of exhibitions internationally, among them: Asian Landmark-Toyota Art Project (Iberia Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, 2010), The 4th Prague Biennale (Prague, Czech Republic 2009), Self-Preservation Painting Exhibition (Magee Art Gallery, Beijing 2009), and Poetic Realism: A Reinterpretation of Jiangnan-Contemporary Art from South China (Centro de Arte, Tomás y Valiente, Madrid 2008).