This is the artist Hong Hao’s second solo exhibition at the gallery after “Reflection”, held in 2015. This exhibition presents the artist’s latest works from 2016 and 2017, which can be seen as an important thread marking the artist’s future developmental trajectory.
Hong Hao’s artistic creations focus on the conflicts and resonance between the overarching order of the world and the everyday life of the individual, and engage in a graphical deconstruction of social systems in order to observe, establish and finally conceal the artist’s self-awareness. As an important figure in the development of Chinese contemporary art, Hong Hao’s works have shown keen observation and artistic intuition since the 1990s. Whether it is the veiled satire of regional politics in such fabricated documents as his “New World Maps” or the direct provocation of the famous “Kassel invitation letter” incident, Hong Hao’s art has eloquently laid bare the subtle psychology of the post-Cold War world and China’s position in it. In the new 2016 series “Edged—World”, the map, that trademark element from Hong Hao’s early works, has once again returned to the artist’s creative palette. This return inevitably evokes parallels to the serious challenges faced by globalization and regional unification in 2016, but the artist seems to have no intention of clearly referencing this. These new works continue along the path of increasingly pure aesthetic thinking stretching back to the 2013 series Reciprocating, removing and muting the essential nature of things to reference their “form”. What emerges between the substance and emptiness is the very self-awareness he strives to conceal. This extension of self-awareness forms a self-modulating symbiosis between Hong Hao’s artworks and his perception of social systems—it is precisely through this ceaseless dismantlement and reconstruction of systems that Hong Hao has been able to maintain awareness and deep perception of the changes in the world over the decades.
This exhibition will also present the latest works in the “Reflection” and “Everchanging Appearance” series. These two on-canvas painting series, hallmarks of the artist’s return to the “studio”, have been exhibited at Pace Hong Kong and Pace Palo Alto. The visual origins of these works can be traced back to Hong Hao’s signature “My Things” series. For twelve years beginning in 2001, the artist made daily records of the traces of his life, indiscriminately collecting and scanning everyday objects to create a shockingly massive visual archive of consumerist culture’s great invasion of Chinese society since the millennium. In the process of visual documentation, the original functional properties of the objects are replaced by their visual properties, so that they gradually devolve (or rise) to the level of basic geometric outlines that the artist has randomly drawn into the image to form parts of unique abstract paintings. In the latest installment of the Everchanging Appearance series, the artist has randomly stacked and overlapped the materials to cause the images to dissolve each other, causing the objects that were once still faintly recognizable in their “reflections” to completely disappear beneath the surface of the picture. From “My Things” and “Bottom” to “Reciprocating”, “Reflection”, and “Everchanging Appearance”, the artist has muted his own self-awareness to catalyze spontaneous growth in the artwork. This decade-long progression reveals Hong Hao’s restrained, transcendent and intellectual Eastern aesthetic.