Nan Qi: Solo Exhibition

Art Plural Gallery
Sep 5, 2013 6:13PM

Art Plural Gallery is pleased to present the solo exhibition of Chinese artist Nan Qi in collaboration with China Art Foundation. Featuring 30 of his most recent works, the exhibition will run from October 31 to November 23, 2013. 

Born in China in 1960, Nan Qi was trained in traditional Chinese painting. The artist graduated in 1986 from the People’s Liberation Army Fine Arts Academy (Beijing). After travelling to England and France in the 1990s to study European art, he moved to Hong Kong before returning to China where he currently lives. 

“Museums, galleries and foundations have organized major retrospectives dedicated to contemporary Chinese ink painting in the recent past. Nan Qi’s work is poised for success and international recognition. We are delighted to jointly present with China Art Foundation his most recent paintings in Singapore.” Frédéric de Senarclens, founder of Art Plural Gallery.

The aim of this exhibition is to revisit traditional Chinese ink painting and engage our global audience in broader dialogues.

Working with ink on Xuan paper alternating black and white, Nan Qi’s work is deeply rooted in the technique of traditional ink painting. From this strong personal attachment to ink, the artist keeps incorporating new elements to his work and injecting an innovative dimension to the traditional medium. These various components are all part of his unique artistic language and stand out in hislatest works.

Nan Qi, recognised as “the master of ink dots”, replaces lines with juxtapositions of dots forming an actual image when seen from a distance. This pointillist style renews the Chinese traditional freehand technique (xieyi), literally “writing an idea”: calligraphy characters are turned into dots. Each dot is thus a sign locking up its own meaning. The actual form of what is being perceived is conveyed by an infinity of independent dots. As a result, it is not enough to observe the overall image, one literally needs to “read” the image to understand it.

“Western dot matrices are often accomplished with screen-printing, and my works are all completed by hand. […] The dots in my work have many layers, including ink layers themselves and layers of colour, but all in a single dot. […] Western dot matrices are not the same, their dot is only subservient to the entire form, there is not much meaning in looking at each individual dot.” – Nan Qi.

The second innovative aesthetical component in Nan Qi’s work lies in his recent use of the 3D technique. The artist critically refers to the digitalisation of the world, forcing society to make it a norm and to adapt to this new paradigm. Indeed, in his art, the 3D is imposed to the viewer as no glasses are needed to see clearly the special effect. The artist rejects this material way of looking at the world through the prism of technology. The series, entitled Eerie 3D, deconstructs existing images in a fragmented and harsh reality facing digitalisation, consumerism and financial power. Using 3D, Nan Qi allows symbols to come out of his artworks and puts the contemporary world in suspension.

Following this critical statement on today’s society, Nan Qi expresses a certain nostalgia towards the past Maoist regime. Indeed, his experience as a soldier left a deep impression on the young artist. His work is saturated with references to the army and marked by the recurrence of the colour red and the omnipresence of revolutionary symbols. A whole series, entitled Red features Mao and the “valiant heroes”, distancing the artist from the critical artistic movement led by some of his Chinese contemporaries.

In Nan Qi’s art, one has to read between the lines. Even though the unique image emerging from the final ink painting appears extremely rational and almost detached – as if the artist was intentionally using an external focalization to depict an objective reality, the multiple dots represent a kaleidoscopic truth expressed through individual feelings. From politics to sexuality or urban scenes, Nan Qi superimposes layers of tension and invites us to cast a new eye on China and its ideals. 

“Contemporary Chinese ink painting is now gaining increasing recognition in the art world as representing something that is uniquely elegant and Chinese. We are extremely pleased to showcase Nan Qi as one of the foremost exponents of this fast developing art form.” Mr Chong Huai Seng –founder of China Art Foundation.

Art Plural Gallery