Pearl Lam Galleries is pleased to present Presence of Whiteness by Zhu Jinshi, its first dual-space solo exhibition since the opening of the new gallery in Dempsey Hill. Following his recent solo at Pearl Lam Galleries Hong Kong, which featured a series of black and white paintings, Zhu Jinshi will present over 20 coloured paintings created between 2012–16 at the Dempsey Hill space. The works can be seen as a dialectic of colour as concept; in keeping with his “detached from colour” series of paintings, here colour is transformed into enriched bodily forms traversing between whiteness and colour-filled three-dimensional space on canvas. Meanwhile, the Gillman Barracks gallery will feature works consisting of painting, installation, and text that span a fifty-year period, delineating a personal history of persistence and destruction as well as attachment and reflection.
Exhibition Dates 10 January–5 March, 2017 Daily, 11am–8pm
Venue Pearl Lam Galleries, 15 Dempsey Road #01-08, Dempsey Hill, Singapore 249675
When "white" returns to an object through the medium of paint, then "white" should all the more be an "object" instead of a painting.
“Whiteness” signifies not only a minimalist reduction to its extreme, the blank canvas, but also carries with its emptiness the potency of the inner mind. The collision and conflict of these two roles is both an intersection of cultural language and syntax, and a vivid embodiment of every decision the artist makes when confronting a blank canvas, colour, and paint. Zhu prefers to convey colour three-dimensionally through thick applications of paint; he embraces the splendidness of colour through its materiality, facing directly the challenge and surprise of paint. For him, paint embodies time, while the presence of whiteness is where time freezes. Using a custom-made palette knife, he pulls and pushes, flips and shovels—bodily movements that are exercised above the canvas. Where to fill, where to empty, where to collapse, where to fall, where to determine, and where to hesitate construct the presence of whiteness in the painting, composed of revolutionary moments of action. In this three-dimensional space, the white paint grows fearlessly within different levels; whereas colour and paint either expands; overlaps; or hides in crevices, edges, or cracks. In the end, paint becomes a game played out by a materialised body and an escalating vision.
Zhu Jinshi’s painting is not to be viewed in stillness, neither is it aesthetic ecstasy achieved by the medium of paint. The subject is not immersed in the work, but is instead made to stand out; these works are a result of metaphysical transformation and a fermentation of the artist’s action as it relates to a quintessential subject that marches forward on an elusive path full of obstacles and doubts. The landscape on the canvas imitates the ascending and descending altitude; the river of paint rumbles Mother Earth to her astonishment, letting the falling particles and mass sediment float or rush to the summit of the forest, fall into the valley of a mountain, soar on top of the wave, hang in the middle of a cliff, such as in Western Hills and Such a Master. Calligraphy inadvertently returns and winds on the canvas surface; the argument with tradition vanishes in the writing with paint, leaving monochromatic calligraphic traces. Non-calligraphy does not indicate anti-calligraphy, but instead materialises the sentiment of calligraphy. Consequently, destruction arrives and holds the subconscious hostage, relentlessly cutting off the flow of writing without any hesitation, such as in Sidaokou (Four-Way Intersection). During the metamorphosis of the subject, time breaks for the halt of paint, space ends where emptiness is revealed, and the absence of paint is also the revelation of paint.
Exhibition Dates 10 January–30 April, 2017 Wednesday–Saturday, 11am–7pm; Sunday, 12–6pm
Venue Pearl Lam Galleries, 9 Lock Road, #03-22, Gillman Barracks, Singapore 108937
Looking back at the end of the 1970s in Beijing, the revolving machine in the factory had more passion and ease and less political rigidity and confinement. On a coarse piece of cardboard slightly smaller than a sheet of A4 paper, Zhu produced his first series of figurative paintings, including Factory Series III on show at the Gillman Barracks gallery space. In Zhu’s 1985 Sunshine, produced as an abstract painting in the mid-1980s, he attempted to alienate himself from abstract art in Western Modernism with a touch of Chinese calligraphy aestheticised into abstraction. The visual arts (which Zhu mostly took in through publications), aesthetics, and philosophy that he was immersed in imperceptibly fuelled his painting style, which fell more firmly under “abstraction”. Exhibited along with this painting is a wooden frame installation initially created in 1994, during a time when Zhu gave up practising painting for installation works. The fact that the size of the wooden frame installation is the same as that of his 1985 Sunshine painting is a profound coincidence that echoes the origin of the interrelation between Zhu’s painting and installation practice: collision and interchangeability. In the new millennium, Zhu picked up painting again, in order to object the objected, and the brushes with covered paint (2006–09) witnessed an unfolding path in Zhu’s reflection and experimentation regarding the presence of paint.
Also on show is a newly created text and paint installation—five canvases, sized 160 x 180 cm, each are covered with black paint and made five centimetres thick. Every table of paint is 250 kg, continuing Zhu’s tradition of using painting materials as installation, while the paint tables are accompanied by wall text (part of a conversation with Yu Haiyuan, editor of Kuart). The interweaving of installation and non-installation, painting and non-painting all leads back to the artist’s persistent construction of the subject, accompanied by his concern for the language of painting. The simplicity and thickness of painting becomes the crucial point of the performance in paint and space, as the presence of whiteness, such as the crevices, cracks, and blankness, resonates with the traditional idea of liu bai. Every accretion of one centimetre of paint signifies the indispensability of absence.