Sui Jianguo: Touchable
798 Art District, No. 2 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China
Pace Beijing is pleased to present Touchable, an exhibition of new work by Sui Jianguo, on view at Pace Beijing from 9 July to 22 August, 2015. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition in China since his 2012 Pace Beijing exhibition.
Sui Jianguo has long been a leading figure in Chinese contemporary sculpture, hailed by critics as “China’s first and most far-reaching conceptual sculptor.” His works, which seamlessly integrate concept and form, serve as profound explorations of creation, medium, form, technique and the human experience.
Sui Jianguo’s thirty-year career has seen many shifts in style and approach, but a common spirit links his works. From such early works as Earth Force, Legacy Mantle and Made in China to his most recent series, his focus has always been on the nature of “things” and how this reflects on the relationship between the self and the surrounding world.
The artist’s most recent creations grew out of the Blind Portraits series, which was recently exhibited at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza in New York. Sui Jianguo is the first Chinese artist featured in this famous public art space in its 37-year history. The sculptures in Blind Portraits resemble Chinese “scholar’s rocks,” an artifact of the ancient literati tradition of projecting one’s sentiments onto the natural landscape. In Sui Jianguo’s hands, however, stone is a material that exists independently of any cultural baggage. The distorted faces in Blind Portraits may appear to be expressions of emotion, but this is not the case. Likewise, in his more recent work Untitled, the material has been “punched” into shape, but the violence of this act is not the focus of this work. Here, such actions are merely a part of the interplay between artist and material. Clay, being a malleable material, adapts to external forces by changing shape. The focus here is on the properties of the material itself, and how they can shed light on the relationship between man and the world.
In this upcoming exhibition, Sui Jianguo’s works take on a greater challenge as they confront the dimensions of space and time. The artist is intimately familiar with the various materials he uses, seeing them as independent objects with their own unique properties. Those properties themselves play a role in these most recent creations, making them “collaborations” between artist and material. As in Blind Portraits, the surface textures of these works are records documenting the artist’s creative process. Oftentimes, the properties of the materials bring an element of serendipity to the creation, and the artist, in seeking to balance that serendipity with the overall feel of the artwork, finds new sources of inspiration for his conceptual explorations.
Sui Jianguo (b. 1956) received a BA in the Fine Arts Department from the Shandong University of Arts in 1984 and an MA in the Sculpture Department from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1989, where he currently presides as the head of the Sculpture Department. He has participated in many international group and solo exhibitions at such institutions as Museum Beeldenaan Zee, The Hague, The Netherlands; Today Art Museum, Beijing, China; Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei, Taiwan; Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Manila, The Philippines; as well as the 2010 World Expo, Shanghai, China.
Image: © Sui Jianguo and Pace Beijing