Xu Zhenbang in Hong Kong
約翰百德 (John BATTEN)
at 11:09am on 26th February 2016
Xu Zhenbang, PROP.IT.IOUS, mixed media on canvas, 150x150cm, 2015
Hong Kong regularly sees the work of its young visual artists and with the recent opening of international galleries, now gets a feel of trends from Europe and the USA. Bizarrely, we see little of what is currently happening on the mainland. But with galleries in both Beijing and Hong Kong, Pékin Fine Arts offers an occasional taster.
Born in Shenzhen, Xu Zhenbang is 26 years old and currently completing post-graduate studies at the Sichuan Fine Art Institute in Chongqing. As recent trends have shown, some of the mainland’s best artists originate or have studied in Sichuan. It is within this tradition of energy, sometime-innovation and success that Xu presents a series of intriguing paintings.
Following artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol, Xu takes everyday objects, signs and patterns and technically manipulates and distorts the imagery. Xu stretches Warhol’s screen-printing techniques into our computer slick world to add text and distort familiar objects. In some paintings the output of a laser-print is laid atop the canvas, in others the artist paints his carefully planned distorted designs.
In GR.EATWA.LL, Xu presents the well-known red-white-blue bag patterning as a fragmented and manipulated image of the Great Wall as landscape. In another work, the image of a phoenix is discerned swirling as if dissolved in acid across a canvas of universally familiar black-and-yellow directional road signs. In PROP.IT.IOUS (illustrated) the test pattern seen at the start and end of a day’s television broadcast have expertly imbedded four dragons within each of the circular test patterns.
Xu explains that his deconstructed paintings are reflecting on us having “…the ability to obtain all kinds of information….As a result, considerable change has occurred in the way we form memories….Fragmented recollections and kaleidoscopic on-line ‘browsing’ experiences inform our external, ontological presence and internal self-knowledge.”
Distortion, manipulation and the explosion of reality have always been the tools of an artist. This young artist is no exception. If this smart exhibition is any indicator, Xu could be another compelling image manipulator who studied in Sichuan.
Link for further information:
Xu Zhenbang: ‘Look Again’ Solo Exhibition @ Pékin Fine Arts, Hong Kong
A version of this review was published in the South China Morning Post on 6 October 2015.