Indepth Arts News: |
"SKIN: New Work of Hong Kong Artist Pan Xing Lei"
2001-05-11 until 2001-06-11
Fish Tank Gallery
USA United States of America
This is the second solo show of this controversial international artist in New York, and the first time his signature work has been seen in depth in the US. The show will include two and three dimensional works, video, and a performance - all combined in an installation-style format, that reflects his free wheeling cross-disciplinary approach to art -making.
Skin, or Pi in Putonghua, (Chinese), refers most immediately to the latex Rubber Men splattered with illegible painted characters, devoid of muscle and bone, that hang, float, or twist in different positions at every outing. The first versions of these soft figures, and their antecedent crumpled faces, began shortly after the artist’s participation in the tragic Tiananmen Square Demonstrations in 1989, where he and five other sculpture students created and erected the Goddess of Democracy monument. When the government tanks rolled in and destroyed that effort, and thousands of citizens with it - they left behind an image that remained with the then only 19-year-old Pan Xing Lei. The resulting figures have been a recurring theme since then, that echo in various forms, particularly as reborn solid sculptures, in plaster, fiberglass, and bronze.
In Hong Kong, Pan is an immigrant mainlander, who came to be known as an artist as mad as he was maddening, with provocative performances that often included the accompaniment of these figures, or their stand-ins, in actions that featured his own body, clad in red. In 1996, he employed this strategy in a public square, where he joined himself with a Colonial monument of Queen Victoria, in the politically charged Pun Sing Lui Incident. This work cost him a month in jail, and made him a media sensation. To Pan Xing Lei, the bonding of the artist himself, with static, lifeless sculptural forms, became a quickening union, by virtue of the bloody raiment coating them both. The resulting combination of art and artist institutes a marriage of life and death, made possible by the passion and positioning, of the creative act.
Pan Xing Lei has had numerous one man shows and performances, and has been included in important group outings in China, Hong Kong, Germany, and the US, including the landmark traveling exhibition: Inside Out – New Chinese Art, seen in New York at the Asia Society and PS1. He was featured in the March 2001 issue of Art News, in an article by Hugh Akin, titled: Camouflaged Revolutionary.
In this exhibition for Fish Tank Gallery, Pan will perform Pi’, introduce a stunning new body of paintings, and show the first videotape of his skin-like figures, shot and edited with the assistance of young American filmmaker; Guy LeBas. Transformed by technology, they become mere spirits of light and shadow, swiftly appearing and disappearing. As they dance and dive across a wall – here, but not really there, they leave their impressions on the mind, transforming us the viewers, into custodians of a new kind of pantheon – over and over and over.