Having emerged from the strict confines of the Same Room series that defined them for so long, artist collective Tamen explores new landscapes that verge on metaphysical discursions of identity, context, and cultural knowledge. Tamen’s solo exhibition Outside Within presents vast open scenes with a sense of philosophical interiority, while displaying the same eerie serenity and complex thresholds that have come to define their aesthetic.
Tamen, the collective comprised of Chinese artists Lai Shengyu and Yang Xiaogang, illustrates a progression in new works of oil on canvas from the tension- and symbol-filled juxtapositions of earlier works. Incorporating tradition via Chinese architecture, characters, and animals, these compositions shape a sense of distance, expanse, and introspection – looking outside to look within. The obvious clashes of Western and Eastern motifs in the Same Room series have been replaced with a more harmonious questioning and ink-painting aesthetic while forever remaining in the space of the present and Western style.
Outside Within challenges perspective and boundaries, in the same manner that the Same Room series consistently features a man – representing the artists – with his back to the audience and a transparent window to the exterior. Looking into their paintings and out into the world from their paintings, Tamen savors such cognitive dissonance with a matured understanding of time and place. Outside Within draws audiences to not only look at the works, but to look further into them. Lacking formal walls, Tamen continues to create windows: thresholds between the past and future, inside and out, present and possibility.