chinese contemporary art

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You Must Listen to Me
Wang Ke Solo Exhibition

Chinese Contemporary Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of You Must Listen to Me, an exhibition of new works by Wang Ke. The artist has prepared fifteen new paintings that will be on display 28 June – 30 July 2008 at Chinese Contemporary’s Beijing gallery in Factory 798. There will be an opening held on 28 June 2008, 3 pm where the artist will be present.

A graduate of the China Academy of Fine Art in Hangzhou, Wang Ke is one of the most talented stars of the Cartoon Generation. Through her quest for individual identity, Wang Ke chooses to paint oversized, stylized heads, which she claims are anthropomorphic interpretations of her own facial features. Employing cartoon imagery as a vehicle for self-reflection, the artist volunteers the most physically unique element that she lays claim to, her body, for critique. As Wang Ke says of her work, ‘Everyday I put myself through a rigorous self-assessment; it seems like everyday I have to paint myself.’

Wang Ke is a product of the One Child Policy which has resulted in a generation that has known both the oppressive loneliness and lavish attention which being an only child fosters. Combining this with the rapid influx of Western culture after Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms, it is no wonder that those born after 1979, like Wang Ke, are grappling with finding their voice in a country seeking its own balance between tradition and modernity. In order to extract and distinguish those qualities which drive her definition of self and elucidate the innermost psyche, the artist focuses on minute details – the cross-stitching pattern of a clothing seam, a gleam in the eye, the nodules of an iPod. Large swaths of canvas are painted in solid blocks of color, yet it is the details that lend the paintings their character and that convey the artist’s preoccupation with the expressive quality of minutia.

The subjects of Wang Ke’s paintings illustrate the artist’s belief in the value of depicting small vignettes as a reflection of her frame of mind. At times the characters are sly, with calculating, engaging eyes that cajole their audience into a direct dialogue – as in My Bubbles. In other works, such as Take Off and Yellow Pencil Scrawl, Wang Ke’s figures communicate the artist’s reserve, aloofness and altogether wistful reflections. When viewed as a whole, the paintings on display in You Must Listen to Me are a manifestation of Wang Ke’s exploration of herself – whether they be comical, critical, ironic, dreamy, morose, repressed, or quizzical. Through her paintings, the artist demonstrates clearly and resolutely the extent to which an individual is a synchronized, myriad compilation of these sentiments and that it is often the imperceptible components of life that reveal an individual’s various facets.

Wang Ke’s 2007 Solo Show Big Head and her inclusion in the exhibition Cartoon Generation, held at Chinese Contemporary Beijing and New York respectively, both met with unbounded success. The artist’s work will also appear in the upcoming show Cartoon Generation, set to open 13 June 2008 at Thomas Cohn Gallery in Sao Paolo, Brazil.