Like Moths to a Flame

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Distant Water , 2012 Canvas, Phosphorous, Fire, Metal, Acrylic 90 1/2 X 74 3/4 In © Courtesy of the artist & CHAMBERS FINE ART BEIJING
Like Moths to a Flame

Red No.1-D, Cao Changdi Chaoyang District
100015 Beijing
November 17th, 2012 - December 28th, 2012

Tue-Sun 10-6
mixed-media, conceptual


Chambers Fine Art is pleased to announce the opening on November 17 of Like Moths to a Flame: Recent Works by Ye Nan. This exhibition is a development of procedures first glimpsed in Phosphorous Red - Ye Nan's first exhibition at Chambers in 2010. In the past two years, Ye Nan has developed a more in-depth understanding and application of red phosphorous as a particular artistic medium. His bold and highly innovative thinking and experimentation show no signs of stopping, but are ever more active, accentuating the playful and conceptual aspects of the work.

The title of the exhibition Like Moths to a Flame comes from Ye Nan's musings on the phenomenon of moths flying into flames. In scientific theory, the phenomenon is a result of the insect's built-in celestial navigation. Moths rely on their inherent compound eye structure to determine their direction in relation to moonlight. However, when an artificial light source appears, moths misidentify the artificial light as moonlight and fly towards it. A nearby artificial light is of course no celestial moon. Instinctively trying to maintain a constant angle with the light source, a moth flies around the light in a spiral trajectory, circle after circle, until it dies of exhaustion; or it flies into the flame. From a scientific perspective, the act of moths flying into flames is purely instinctual; on the other hand, in a literary sense, there is deep pathos. Though it appears to be a rather stupid suicidal act, the moths' immolation perpetuates the species' phototropism, which could be just the meaning of living for moths.

In this exhibition, Ye Nan combines his creative process with the principle of moths flying into flames, as if to signify some sort of inner connection between his work or this exhibition and the spirit of moths. He covers the canvas surface with red phosphorous, turning the canvas into a large matchbox striker. He then strikes matches on the canvas like magical paintbrushes, creating light and energy in the dark. The energy leaves its traces on the canvas, forming an image within the painting frame. The whole process is akin to producing an artificial light that attracts moths to the image, constructing a scenario between the real and unreal. It is worth mentioning that human intervention did not ever cause moths to forgo their nature, in relation to Darwin’s theory of evolution. For the artist, none of these interpretations is important, what really matters is to embody the spirit of moths in the pivotal moment when trying to achieve the sublime, as flame turns into ashes.

In recent years Chambers Fine Art has been committed to discovering and nurturing the careers of exceptional young artists, Ye Nan being one of them. Ye Nan was born in Hangzhou in 1984. Since graduating from the China Academy of Art, Hangzhou in 2006, he has produced an impressive body of work that is highly idiosyncratic both technically and thematically. The current exhibition features Ye Nan's most recent paintings on canvas as well as his latest video. Employing a strategy of substitution, the video captures fireworks explosion, which serves as a metaphor for Ye Nan’s painting process in slow motion. Such metaphorical device not only enhances the work’s playfulness, but also heightens a sense of being in the scene for the viewers. Meanwhile, elements from Ye Nan’s paintings- phosphorous and fire are also found in fireworks. This isn’t a mere coincidence. By transplanting the final moment of fireworks explosion from reality to canvas, Ye Nan also introduces to the viewers another evanescent beauty in moths flying into flames.

北京前波画廊荣幸地宣布将于11月17日起举办叶楠近作展《飞蛾》。本次展览是叶楠继2010年在前波画廊《赤磷》展览后的延伸。在这两年的时间里,叶楠 对赤磷这一特殊创作媒介有了更深层次的了解和运用。他大胆而极具创意性的思维和实践在作品中丝毫没有停顿的迹象,反而更加活跃,而且将作品中的趣味性和观 念性更加突显出来。

展览标题《飞蛾》源自叶楠对飞蛾扑火这一概念的思考。从科学理论上来说,飞蛾扑火源于自身的“天文导航”,飞蛾依靠其特有的复眼结构以月光来判定方 向,然而当人类的光源介入,飞蛾会把人类的光源误以为是月光并投身而去。与遥远的月光不同,近距离的人类光源使得飞蛾仍然依凭本能使自己同光源保持着固定 的角度,从而以一个螺旋的轨迹不断旋绕着光源飞行,如此往复的飞行直至精疲力竭而死;如遇到火光,则会造成扑火。飞蛾扑火的结局从科学角度来讲,是出于本 能;另一方面,从文学的意义上来讲具有浓厚的悲情主义的成分,尽管飞蛾是一种看似蠢笨的自取灭亡,然而它的升华延续了这个物种的向光习性,这也正是飞蛾生 存的意义。

此次展览中,叶楠将其作品创作过程与飞蛾扑火的原理相结合,仿佛在提示他的作品或者这个展览将会与飞蛾的生存精神具有某种内在的联系。他将红磷涂在 画布表面,使画布变成一张巨大的火柴皮,一支或一把火柴充当神奇的“画笔”在画布上摩擦,在黑暗中产生光和能量,最终这些能量在画布上留下痕迹,同时也形 成画面创作的形象。整个过程就像是在制造一种人为光源,在吸引着无数的飞蛾附着于画面,造成了一种介乎真实与非真实的情境。值得一提的是,人为因素的介入 并未使得飞蛾丧失其天性,这一切似乎与进化论有所联系。然而,对艺术家来说,这些都不重要,重要的是在灰飞烟灭的一瞬间,在追求璀璨和巅峰瞬间的时刻,有 一种如飞蛾般的精神。

前波画廊近年来一直致力于发掘优秀的年青艺术家。叶楠1984年出生于杭州,他常以极具个性的作品引人入胜,更以独具匠心的观念征服观者。展览在推 出他最新架上绘画的同时,也将展示他最新的录像作品——采用“错位”的表现手法,通过捕捉“烟花爆发”的过程来隐喻他在绘画过程中的慢动作,如此表现手法 不仅增强了趣味性,同时也强调了现场感。与此同时,他使用了烟花中部分相同的材料(磷与火),这不只是巧合,在将现实烟花爆发的最后瞬间移植到画布上的同 时也向观者介绍了如飞蛾扑火般另一种瞬间的绚丽。欢迎届时莅临。

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