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Portrait of the Youth
Group Exhibition J&Z Gallery, Shenzhen
Date: 06.20, 2009 - 08.23, 2009

Artists: ZHANG Ding 张鼎 | 

Reception on Saturday, June 20, 2009, 6-8 pm, J&Z Gallery, 101 Bldg F1, OCT-Loft, Enping Rd., Shenzhen

J&Z Gallery is proud to present its new summer group exhibition: Portrait of the Youth, which is curated by Azure Wu, with a collection of new works by artists Meng Yangyang, Shen Wei, Tseng Yu-Chin, and Zhang Ding, mainly the portraits of reality, illusion, memory, and future. The exhibition will be on view from June 20, through August 23, 2009.

What “Portrait of the Youth” is trying to covey is the diversified ideas, the creative practicesss that characterizes the new generation of Chinese artists, and the throbbing vitality that beneath the works. These works are able to tell the differences between portraits and other visual images: portraits have acutely captured the very moment of life, emotion, culture and the spirit of the times by selecting a unique view point of faces, experiences, and threads of thinking. Not only are the portraits reflection of public relations and symbolic significance, but also personal outlets for what the artists see while trying to collate their own sentiments and beliefs.

The paintings of the Chongqing-based artist Meng Yangyang (b.1983) have a character of its own. Her portraits have created a youthful world bulging with thoughts of growing up, intertwined with innocence, loneliness, and cruelty. On the abstract backdrop, she draws the half na?ve, half evil faces of the children, which are relevant to the growth of the artist herself. The portrait achieves a perfect balance between intensity and mildness: the reminiscent colors give a sense of tranquility and warmth. Among the new generation artists, Meng Yangyang is known especially for the sincerity and the sense of freedom in her paintings, which have gone beyond interpretation or metaphors, and thus are able to move the audience by its sentimental visual impact.

Shen Wei (b.1978) was born in Shanghai and is now living in New York City. Almost Naked, a photograph series consuming him four years since 2003, is his most important work series up till now. He communicates by taking portrait photos, which occupies a vital position in the whole realm of photography. His photographic portraits are open and silent, yet vividly expose the original humanity, emotions, desires, and “spiritual nakedness”. “Naked” as they are, the portraits are able to reveal the complexity of human body, gender, identity, nationality and race. The mutual trust between the photographer and the models, as well as the spontaneous flow of their feelings are pariticularly affecting. In 2007, Shen Wei was awarded The Griffin Award by The Griffin Museum of Phtography. And in 2008, he was named as one of PDN’s “30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch in 2008”.

The videos and films composed by Taiwanese artist Tseng Yu-Chin (b. 1978) are depictions and explorations of the loneliness of the individuals, the pressure from the environment, and the inevitable dilemma. His mini-theaters, mainly about kids, have delicately and poetically touched people’s memories and sentimentality in the subtlest manner. The videos are full of artistic visual tension, which are matched by soft and resonant atmosphere. In 2004, Tseng Yu-Chin won “Taipei Art Award” for his work Who is listening, with which he was invited to Documenta 12 in 2007. In the next year he was awarded “Best Young Artist of CCAA 2008”. Fever Dark is his new work for the exhibition, which was made during his stay in New York City, 2008. In the video, there are depressing scenes of 21 children hiding underneath the bed or inside the wardrobe. It tells the disturbing darkness dropping behind the restless metropolis.

Zhang Ding (b.1980), currently based in Shanghai, has made his name by multimedia installations and videos in recent years. His solo exhibition in ShanghART Gallery in 2007 was the turning point of his artistic career. In this exhibition titled Tools, he managed to build a fable arena for the confrontation of fragility and violence, conversation and attack, beauty and evil. The works of Zhang Ding have rendered absurdity a more serious and more realistic meaning, seen in his recent videos Great Era and The Dream of Yabulai. This time, he specially made a sculpture set The Aircraft Meal of a Secret Family for the exhibition, by which the power manipulation and political layouts are presented. It is not only a brand new attempt for the artist in terms of composition language, but also a continuing of his multi-dimension meditation of the society.

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