July 12 – August 4, 2019
Hermès Maison, Shanghai, China
By Cao Dan, Curator
“The eye of the painter is a false mirror: it modifies what it captures by reconstructing the appearing features of the mystical world.” Belgian philosopher Marcel Paquetonce spoke in these terms of Surrealist painter René Magritte. The latter knew well how to craft intriguing images of said mystical world by means of his painter’s eye and boundless imagination. Surrealism itself is precisely about making use of philosophy,literature, art, drama, and film to gaze further into the world of human dreams and the inner heart, exploring and expressing the secret relations between all that exists in the universe, and thus establishing a bridge between mankind and the cosmos. As a result, one could say that the aesthetics of Surrealist ideology born in Western Europe in the early twentieth century bear coincidental resemblance to the classical Eastern notion of “Heaven and Man as one.”
Yan Xiaojing’s solo exhibition, “Dreamland”, allows us to witness the aesthetic traces of such an East-meets-West phenomenon. The exhibition is the beginning of a miraculous journey in pursuit of dreams: wandering through Mountain of Pines and Nebula, encountering Lingzhi Girl,Morning Glory and Ink-Water-Stone, one penetrates into the parallel, enigmatic world of another’s dream, while experiencing the limitless mysteries of the cosmos. In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens wrote that “every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.” It is indeed the quest to satiate curiosity that has stimulated imagination, bringing about the flourishing of arts and human civilization. Yan has lived and studied in both China and the West, and in turn utilizes a mixture of contemporary Western discourse and modern materials, with traditional Eastern symbolic elements that embody ancient mythologies and specific conceptual implications. Through this hybridity, she constructs her own personal artistic language. Because “aesthetic conception transcends concrete objects described,” her works bring viewers to a wide-open space of imagination where one discovers a form of reality beyond the tangible world. We also find in them the artist’s affirmation of the intrinsic tenderness and sensitivity of human nature. Her artworks reflect an ethos of modesty, love, and care towards the mystical unknowns of the cosmos.
“Dreamland”—to comprehend the laws of the universe from within a dreamlike space. As the Chinese poet Wang Wei once wrote, “In dreams I delve, alive with the ultimate essence of Tao.” Although the visit is brief as it is, I wish you sweet dreams.
文| 曹丹 策展人
文| 曹丹 策展人