Xu Zhen® has been creating the “Passion” series since 2021. The series of works has undergone multiple transformations, developing from single works to a global contemporary art project centered on painting. From the perspective of the creative method, this is undoubtedly a breakthrough in painting.
Green is one of the most prominent features in these paintings which represents the messages sent by the addresser in WeChat chats. Therefore, the artist tried every kind of pigment he could find that is similar to WeChat green, which finally evolved into the current green - it is brighter enough to become people’s visual focus, like the light of the mobile phone screen can still be captured at a long distance. As the most direct reference to social media, the choice of color will bring more unknown changes in response rather than a fixed element.
Based on the composition of the WeChat dialog box, gray on the left and green on the right, Xu Zhen® has done a lot of experimentation and practice. A great number of sketches we can see in the studio are the artist's repeated rehearsal. The smears and brushstrokes of each painting are unique and come from the artist's most direct perception and experience.
It is the first time Xu paints such a large number of works, which makes this project very different from his past results under the name of the brand - the "Signal" project is full of strong personal touch of the artist. Not only because of the lockdown experience brought by the pandemic, but also because the oil painting is the most immediate way for Xu to present his subjective output. "Passion" painting enables the audience to watch the artist's expression in the form of "chat records" and receive the "Signal" from the artist.
An avant-garde attempt
The most compelling part of the project is to gift "Passion" paintings to audiences around the world. The number of works gifting to the global audiences will be "unlimited", and the recipients will also gradually spread outward from the "art circle", keep sending signals of contemporary art to more people with different backgrounds.
Xu Zhen compared the "passion" paintings for gifts to messages swiped on the mobile phone. Like a short video or a newsflash, they can readily spread among the mass and bring a moment of pleasure. Whether gifting or posting on social media, these processes use the exceptional power of mass media in this era - people have difficulty focusing on a single thing, but tend to notice recurring images, and enjoy the feeling of " watching it together" - so various "Passion" paintings can spread on various social media platforms. Remarkably, Xu selects the works for some of the recipients that he knows based on their impressions and feelings. When receiving a unique "Signal", the work will also bring a brand new sense of intimacy.
It is an avant-garde attempt at the act of "gifting". Different from the customary elite atmosphere of contemporary art collection, the boundary between inside and outside of the “art circle” is erased – the recipients are no longer limited to collectors, artists, and art professionals, but extended to people with various backgrounds, so that we can break away from "the carnival of the few". Therefore, the audience plays an important role in the project - whether it is a participant who receives the work or a bystander who has swiped those on social media, the artist's intervention stimulates each audience to produce diversified opinions on social media. That's part of the allure of the “Signal” project.
After the first station in Jakarta, the project has been launched in China. The Singapore Chapter will officially meet the audience on October 8th on the occasion of ShanghART Singapore's 10th-anniversary special exhibition. The project will be presented with the physical space and will continue to invite more audiences to participate. Search "xuzhensignal" on Instagram to watch the "online art exhibition".