Han Bing, Yang Yongliang, Zhang Weiclick to view Han Bing's available workclick to view Yang Yongliang's available workclick to view Zhang Wei's available work
With the 2008 Olympics as a deadline, China achieved the unachievable. China raced against time to prove to the world that it too, is a modern country. But the transformation had its price. Three artists living in China - Han Bing, Yang Yongliang and Zhang Wei present work that hints at what has been left behind: a landscape, a city, and a society in turmoil.
Yang Yongliang is a young artist from Shanghai who studied traditional Chinese shui mo painting and calligraphy. Yang Yongliang cleverly recreated "Cun", the main representation of Chinese Shanshui paintings using a camera, the contemporary visual device to reveal modern Shanghai city life and details of current urban culture. Scenes of construction sites, large cranes, traffic signs and fly-overs, have all become critical elements in his artworks. Arranged in the traditional composition of Chinese painting, YYs photographic work appears as dreamlike Shanshui paintings. But looking at them closely, they become shockingly modern city views. Yang perfectly handles the contradictions between ephemeral and permanent, vigorous and gentle, sparse and bold, beautiful and ugly to make an entirely poetical and harmonious work, yet the details are 'blots on the landscape'. He achieves a perfect balance between fragility and danger, beauty and cruelty, bringing the viewers not only visual enjoyment, but also the contemplation and self-examination of the various social and cultural concerns.
Han Bing's visual interventions in the Urban Amber series also raise questions about the paradoxes of desire as an irreducibly bifurcated modality with powerful manifestations and effects that can be both beautiful and poisonous. In his conceptual photography, this paradox takes on a different form. The spectre of glamorous high-rises, those icons of middle-class China's dreams of home and a better life, are juxtaposed to the rundown, temporary dwellings of the urban poor living in their shadows. These fantasy high-rises appear resplendent and dream-like but their inverted images reflected in Beijing's ubiquitous, industrial-waste and garbage-infested stinky rivers betray as through a mirror darkly, the underbelly of China's fantasy for modernity. On the other hand, Zhang Weis bronze sculptures of mountains are a constant reminder that beauty is within. Majestic and detailed, Zhang Weis sculptures have the same force and sensibility of vast summits, picks and lakes. They represent the human state versus the entirety of nature. They are the water that the sculptures cannot represent and let us dream of another part of China, still left undisturbed and to be remembered as it was before China embarked on a new chapter.