Two adventurous Denver art exhibitions remember to be fun By Ray Mark Rinaldi,Mar 06, 2012
Humor and clarity
I don't have to convince you so hard of Wang Gongxin's talents. He is one of the most famous artists in all of China and probably some parts of Boston, New York, San Francisco and now Denver. His output is rich and deep and he's not copying anyone. He is a pioneer whose work only gets better, as does RedLine, the show's host and a great wow-inducing setting.
I will try to lower your expectations once again. There are only four works in this exhibit and they say things about contemporary China that many of us already know — that it is changing, that new traditions are clashing, mixing, challenging old ones. But Wang says it with humor and clarity, two qualities I often find missing in RiNo.
The second you walk into RedLine, Wang has a hold on you, starting with "AlwaysWelcome," four video screens that flash still photos of dragons in way that animates them so that they appear to be daunting one second, smiling the next. It's funny and has a point. In the old China, dragons sat at the entrance of palaces, a symbol of wealth. In the new China, with its growing middle class, they have become pet symbols for the masses. Point taken. Chuckle chuckled.
It gets better, the giant "Forward" features life-size video of the backs of ordinary Chinese citizens as they walk down an endless lane, away from you. They are in constant motion, but where are they going? Where is China going? Wang wants you to think about it.
There are two other pieces, "My Sun " and another flashy entry called "It's About Ya," presenting pizazzalling loops of images on multiple screens that flash scenes of old versions of customs, say dancing in traditional costumes, followed by new versions of customs, say dancing to Western beats. It's a powerful piece that actually moves you.
Not moves you like Viola Davis did playing a had-enough housekeeper in a segregated South, but moves you like those exercise videos well-deserving two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda made. You actually run back and forth to catch the action. Colorful, weird, funny: Wang's work is all that.
Wang Gongxin's show is an over-the-top video solo at RedLine
ByMichael PagliaTuesday, Mar 6 2012
Denver was one of Chinese art's first foreign outposts. Back in the '90s, Robischon became one of the first galleries in the United States to feature contemporary Chinese pieces, while MCA Denver presented one of the first exhibits of Chinese contemporary photography anywhere in the country. The curator of the latter show,Julie Segraves, is the longtime director of the Asian Art Coordinating Council, and she's one of the key reasons that there's so much local interest. Her latest triumph isWang Gongxin: It's
About Relating — It's About China, an over-the-top video solo at RedLine. The exhibit, though made up of just four pieces, fills RedLine to capacity.
The show begins with "My Sun," a three-channel projection starring an old peasant woman who is seen throughout as other images, such as fields or sky, come into the picture. Segraves points out that Wang's sensibilities come from his training as a painter and that there is a pictorial relationship to that medium, as well as to film.
In the main space are the other three Wang pieces. First, on a pair of monitors, is "Always Welcome," a cartoonish sendup of classical guardian lion sculptures whose solemnity is undercut by Wang's having animated them.
Next, running across six walls, is "Forward." Each of the projections in this piece features a trio of people walking ahead, their backs turned toward us. As a result, the viewer can never catch up, Segraves points out, a poignant touch in light of the recent decline of the West vis-à-vis China.
The final work, "It's About Ya," is a masterpiece. The title references a character who appears at the opening of a Chinese opera, but the topic is the relentlessly fast pace of life inBeijing. In nine separate projections, not all of which can be seen at the same time, Wang intersperses images of Ya with those of ordinary people, tapping feet, swaying bamboo and other things that pulse in time to the hard-driving soundtrack, also done by Wang.
Wang Gongxin, at RedLine (2350 Arapahoe, 303-296-4448,www.redlineart.org), closes this Sunday, March 11.