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.
Many works in the exhibition probe ideas about masculinity and male identity. Hangzhou-based painter Li Qing’s pressed two paintings together—one is Marcel Duchamp portrait, the other his “L.H.O.O.Q.”—and split them apart (“Images of Mutual Undoing and Unity·Duchamp”, 2011). The resulting images in the diptych are identical: a feminine Duchamp in disguise of a smiling bearded Mona Lisa. A set of collages by Guo Hongwei from Beijing, composed of hard-muscled male torsos and limbs from magazine pages, weds a fantasy of perfect male body with a wry humor. Layering floral patterns over a bombing victims photo, American artist Fred Tomaselli translates the tragedy into a celebration of the beauty of the male body.
When living in Guangzhou where a not small population of black resides, the Beijing-based Cantonese conceptualist Hu Xiangqian would make art that examines the identities influenced by immigration and street cultures. “The Sun” (2008) documents Hu tanning himself over two months to become a black-skinned man. And his “Two Men” (2008) presents a comical moment of two men in red and green polka dot suits fighting against each other in a fashion of street dance.
Also on view is a curated selection of photographs from various disciplines. “The First Intellectual” (2000) by Yang Fudong—whose videos and photographs are often deemed the contemporary reincarnation of Chinese literati aesthetics—depicts a desperate office clerk, with a brick in hand and blood on forehand. The black-and-white picture “1950 Parade for annual anniversary of Shanghai liberation” by Zhou Haiying captures an unlikely moment in the mid-20th century where a truck of young men were showing off their muscular bodies in a patriotic manner. (The same scene might suggest a parade of a different kind in present context and subculture.) The portrait of Chinese badminton player Lin Dan by fashion photographer Mei Yuangui transforms the world Champion into an object of desire.
For further information, please contact the gallery firstname.lastname@example.org and phone: +86-21-3461 1245.