Fabien Fryns Fine Art is honored to announce a solo exhibition by Sheng Qi. The exhibition, titled Square, features eight recent paintings.
Sheng Qi first came to public attention in 1985 as one of the key figures of China's New Art Movement. He then lived in exile in Europe for a decade after the crackdown of a month-long peaceful demonstration on Tiananmen Square in 1989. Before fleeing China, however, he left a piece of himself behind, literally — he buried his self-amputated pinky finger in a porcelain pot. In 1998, Sheng returned to Beijing, occupying a seminal position within the contemporary Chinese movement. Rooted in a multi-disciplinary approach, Sheng Qi explores various media: from photography and installation to video and performance art, that touch China’s sensitive issues of politics, sexuality and cultural identity. In early 2010, Sheng once again left China and relocated himself and his family to London.
Continuing his iconic style of reverse-academic painting, Sheng employs a stark, mostly black and white, palette, a visceral use of paint, and images of non-violent protests in public spaces, which remind us acutely of the recent events in Tunisia and Egypt, and of the current peaceful uprisings in Bahrain, Iran, Yemen and Libya, where the demonstrators have laid claim to their squares, the symbolic hearts of those nations and gathering points for their citizens. In Sheng’s eight paintings, derived from the photographs in Chinese newspapers and magazines, his focus remains centered on China’s contemporary political history from his own memory. He was a witness of the defiant aspiration for democracy and justice. His paintings are his testimony. The drips of paint invoke the idea of sweat, tears and blood. The dichromatism suggests a haunting narrative of oppression, suffering and sorrow. His painting Red Square, 2009, projects a harmonic moment on a square, where protesters are sitting together, relaxing, playing card games and even changing clothes, as if the square were a student union or a community center. Yet, the ground is red: trenched in blood. Another painting Chaos, 2010, depicts in black and white a more intense moment on an anonymous square where three police officers are surrounded by a large crowd of protesters, who are trying passionately to reason with them.
In his artist’s statement, Sheng articulates: “I am not only an artist, but also an observer and a recorder of history. I use my brush to record the history of China in my lifetime since 1965. These events are truly important, because they have influenced millions of Chinese people and shaped my life. So I continue to record them as truthfully as I can in red and black.”
Sheng Qi was born in 1965 in Anhui Province, China. He graduated from the Central Academy Fine Arts, Beijing and received his MFA from Saint Martin's College of Art and Design, London. Sheng currently lives and works in London.
Square will be on view at Fabien Fryns Fine Art in Los Angeles from March 19 through May 14, 2011.