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April 22, 2017

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Everything old is new again at Song Gallery show

A decade after it opened, the Original Song Gallery named its current exhibition “Different Faces,” the same title as its opening, yet with different connotations.

The exhibition features ink-wash paintings created by He Xi, Hong Jian, Mao Donghua and Xue Junhua — all representative in contemporary ink-wash painting in Shanghai. They are showcasing their latest works exploring and experimenting in ink-wash.

He Xi has established himself as a leading figure in contemporary art with his unsentimental take on traditional Chinese ink-wash painting.

Born in 1960 in Beijing, he conjures up a world that is perplexing and expressionless with clever references to modernity.

There are no chirping birds or brilliant flowers on his rice paper. Many of his works feature animals in glass vases and man-made containers, removed from their environment.

In other images, natural motifs and subject matters are transported into an indifferent urban landscape.

But amid his jarring reinterpretation of an ancient art form, He also demonstrates his mastery of classical ink-wash. For this exhibition, he purposely drew some frames on his works. Only on closer inspection do visitors realize that they are fake.

“This is an ironic attack on the over-intricate realistic style popular in China’s ink-wash community,” He says.

The artist wanted to emphasize that “art is not a simple repetition of technique but instead it is concept.

Another highlights are the works of Hong Jian. Born in 1967, Hong grew up in a downtown area lined with Western-style villas and apartments.

A graduate of the Shanghai University’s Academy of Fine Arts, Hong majored in Chinese ink-wash painting.

The tranquil atmosphere that wafted over his neighborhood often haunted him. So he started to reflect it in his works about a decade ago.

The old buildings he focuses on are a combination of traditional with modern aesthetics.

The details of each brick and layer are vividly reflected, and each curving Art Deco line is well mirrored.

In recent years, Hong traveled frequently to Europe. Consequently, the buildings in those foreign lands have also become his subjects.

“The sensible part in Western architecture is something that I prefer to fully ‘restore’,” he says.

His latest series “My Impression of France” is part of the exhibit.


Date: Through May 31, 10am-6pm

Address: 4/F, Bldg3, 731 Hongxu Rd


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