Rasti Chinese Art is pleased to present 'The Experience of Looking', a group exhibition of 6 contemporary artists from China and Europe that explores their shared interest and aesthetic sensibility in the Chinese literati tradition. Contemplating on the current fast-paced culture of acceleration, the exhibition aims to bring forward the concept of ‘slow art’ and to encourage visitors to see art slowly, and in time, to cultivate connoisseurship. Supported by the British Council, the exhibition will open from 2 – 10 June 2019 at Hong Kong Arts Centre (2 Harbour Rd, Wan Chai, Hong Kong). Media preview and opening cocktail will be held on 3 June 2019 (Monday).
The exhibition features over 60 works by a high calibre of artists including Daniel Eskenazi, Hao Shiming, The Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat, Shao Wenhuan, Wang Mansheng and Zhao Meng. Working across mediums from ink painting, sculpture, to contemporary photography and mixed media, the artists are all grounded in the Chinese literati tradition while furthering the practice through revolutionary approaches and creative concepts.
Upon entering the exhibition on the 5th floor, visitors will be greeted by works of The Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat, Wang Mansheng and Zhao Meng. Following the methodology of classic Chinese works, paintings of scholar’s objects and landscapes by The Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat link his observations about Daoist mysticism and nature imagery with meticulous English inscriptions which have the gesture of Chinese calligraphic brushwork. Using unconventional colours like vermillion red and malachite green to depict rocks, the works highlight the concept of alchemy and the transformative power of fundamental elements. A smaller room on the 5th floor will be dedicated to his intimate pencil drawings.
Similarly, the works of Wang Mansheng explore the relationship between figurative paintings and the pictographic aspect of Chinese characters. At first glance, the shapes, whorls and twisting forms seem to be a mere portrayal of ancient tree branches and vines. On closer inspection, Chinese characters surface. Rendered in an abstract manner, they are reminiscent of the cursive or ‘grass’ style of Chinese calligraphy, revealing their spirituality through the textures and thickness of dry brushwork.
Accenting the space will be Zhao Meng’s unglazed ceramic rocks. The artist had completed a residency at the Harvard Ceramics Program in 2005 and is recognised internationally for his experimental methods. Every work he makes pushes the boundaries of the ceramic medium. His reimagined scholar’s rocks investigate the balance between nature and the human force, form and structure, surface and texture. The sculptures are arresting and thought-provoking, inviting visitors to meditate and imagine.
Another highlight of the show, Daniel Eskenazi’s new series, Synoptikos, will be unveiled on the 4th floor mezzanine. Exposed to the best of artistic and intellectual achievements of Asian art from a young age, Daniel Eskenazi’s sophisticated sensibility draws inspirations from Chinese historical, cultural and philosophical references. For Synoptikos, he examined roots and rocks – classic objects from the Chinese scholar’s studio - and by breaking up and recomposing their details, creates a new form to challenge audience perception. The works also circumvent the usual tendency to skim and scan, in an attempt to focus eyes on the essence that resides in all forms of nature.
Continuing down to the 4th floor, visitors will see both paintings and boulders by Hao Shiming. The artist developed his unique abstract style from traditional ink techniques, and extended his working mediums from rice paper to stones, an ancient way to connect with nature and explore the relationship between humans and the larger world. By systematically doubling brush strokes or filling the space with layers of Chinese characters, a spectacular abstract landscape reveals itself on the canvas. The same application can be found on his large boulders, with a layer of engravings underneath the ink applications, the process is painstaking and meditative at the same time.
A rousing finale of the show, the bottom floor will be occupied by works of Shao Wenhuan. Employing photography, digitalisation and mixed media to juxtapose imagery derived from Chinese ink paintings, the natural and imagined worlds, Shao’s works continuously shed the constraints of the medium, offering an alternative perspective and a contemporary interpretation of Chinese visual vocabulary. The expressive language of his works embarks the audience on a striking visual journey, enriching their experience and inviting them to take home a stimulating conversation.
Leading back to the title of the exhibition, ‘The Experience of Looking’ refers to the book Slow Art: The Experience of Looking, Sacred Images to James Turrell (2017) by renowned American scholar and author Arden Reed (1947 – 2017), who discusses the ‘slow’ movement that has occurred in various areas in the past two decades and champions sustained ways of looking at art. Sharing the same vision, the exhibition encourages the audience to linger, change tempo and spend time when viewing, to enjoy the art of being present, and to free themselves from the distractions and increasing intensity of modern life.
A lavishly illustrated catalogue will be produced alongside the exhibition. An introductory essay by Tiffany Beres, curator, scholar and PhD candidate at USC San Diego will be included in the catalogue.
Exhibition title: The Experience of Looking
Media Preview: 3 June 2019 (Time will be announced soon)
Exhibition Dates: 2 – 10 June 2019 (10am – 8pm daily; FREE admission)
Location: Hong Kong Arts Centre
2 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
The exhibition is supported by the British Council.
For high-res images or interview with Nader Rasti, Founder of Rasti Chinese Art and/or participatory artists, please contact:
Johanna Lou | [email protected] | +852 9608 9530
Notes to Editors
About Rasti Chinese Art
Rasti Chinese Art prides itself on being a respected world-class Asian art dealership dedicated to inspiring audiences with the best antique Chinese, Japanese and Islamic works art available on the market today as well as exceptional works of contemporary fine art by some of Asia’s most notable artists.
Previously, founder Nader Rasti worked as Director of the Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art department and auctioneer at Christie’s, London before co-founding Knapton Rasti Asian Art in London in 2000 and establishing Rasti Chinese Art in Hong Kong in 2013. The gallery quickly built a reputation for its specialisation in Chinese jade and hardstone carvings. Known for critical curation, original research, and educational scholarship, today, Rasti Chinese Art’s annual calendar of exhibitions mounted and catalogues published are highly anticipated by collectors, curators and scholars.
Over the past five years, the gallery has begun to show works by contemporary artists that engage in dialogue with classical traditions, particularly that of the Chinese literati. The artists that the gallery represents often share a timeless aesthetic, no matter the chosen medium be it photography or ink on paper.