BOY: A CONTEMPORARY PORTRAIT
LEO XU PROJECTS is pleased to present a group exhibition “Boy: A Contemporary Portrait”, running from February 19th through April 8th, 2012. The show juxtaposes recent and commissioned new works by contemporary visual artists with a selection of works of contemporary dance, fashion photography and mid-20th century’s documentary photography, etc.
Boy, as Oxford Dictionary suggests, also refers to “a man, especially a young or relatively young one”. The first decade of the 21st century sees a transforming representation of men in different cultures, media and regions. This exhibition attempts to portray young men of the time and to redefine the manhood within a global context.
Since the early 1990s, celebrated German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans has been exploring—through his photographs and his involvement in publication—the range of gestures and physicality that have become the distinguishing characteristics of young men in visual culture. His wall installation on view comprises of eight representative photographs he made between 2000 and 2010. Through his signature way of display, the set of photographs constitutes a visual fiction in a first-person narrative that reveals the emotional, sensual and intellectual aspects of young men’s life. Intimate and earnest, French choreographer Jérôme Bel’s critically acclaimed “Cédric Andrieux” (2009) provides a choreographed account that portrays a contemporary dancer’s life and career and outlines the relationship between the performer and the dance as a medium.
The exhibition includes a series of male portraits that are multifaceted and conceptual. Beijing-based Liu Chuang’s “Buying Everything On You” (2007) assembles all the possessions he acquired from a passer-by, which are laid out on a plinth in a way reminiscent of taxonomical or criminal research. Danh Vo, a Vietnamese-born conceptual artist produced specifically for the show a gilded Bud Light beer packaging (“Bud Lite”, 2012) and makes it a metaphor for the experience of being a young man in the consumer culture. “Faith” (2006) a double-channel video installation commissioned for Liverpool Biennale 2006, continues the award-winning Thai filmmaker and video artist Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s experiment in visualizing a man’s innermost world. “Faith is a tender portrait of lost love and transformation. Surrounded by perpetual change and the fear of new memories replacing old, a man dreams for an eternal place, where the image of his loved ones can live on,” the artist comments. In his commissioned new work, Hangzhou-based video artist Cheng Ran filmed a lone man driving a car donned in flowers on a night journey. The piece references Derek Jarman’s film “Blue” and his diary “Modern Nature”, and pays homage to the late British filmmaker.
Many works in the exhibition probe ideas about masculinity and male identity. Hangzhou-based painter Li Qing’s pressed two paintings together—one is Marcel Duchamp portrait, the other his L.H.O.O.Q.—and split them apart (“Images of Mutual Undoing and Unity·Duchamp”, 2011). The resulting images in the diptych are identical: a feminine Duchamp in disguise of a smiling bearded Mona Lisa. A set of collages by Guo Hongwei from Beijing, composed of hard-muscled male torsos and limbs from magazine pages, weds a fantasy of perfect male body with a wry humor. Layering floral patterns over a bombing victims photo, American artist Fred Tomaselli translates the tragedy into a celebration of the beauty of the male body.
When living in Guangzhou where a not small population of black resides, the Beijing-based Cantonese conceptualist Hu Xiangqian would make art that examines the identities influenced by immigration and street cultures. “The Sun” (2008) documents Hu tanning himself over two months to become a black-skinned man. And his “Two Men” (2008) presents a comical moment of two men in red and green polka dot suits fighting against each other in a fashion of street dance.
Also on view is a curated selection of photographs from various disciplines. “The First Intellectual” (2000) by Yang Fudong—whose videos and photographs are often deemed the contemporary reincarnation of Chinese literati aesthetics—depicts a desperate office clerk, with a brick in hand and blood on forehand. The black-and-white picture “1950 Parade for annual anniversary of Shanghai liberation” by Zhou Haiying captures an unlikely moment in the mid-20th century where a truck of young men were showing off their muscular bodies in a patriotic manner. (The same scene might suggest a parade of a different kind in present context and subculture.) The portrait of Chinese badminton player Lin Dan by fashion photographer Mei Yuangui transforms the world Champion into an object of desire.
LEO XU PROJECTS很荣幸地带来2012年首个群展《男孩：当代肖像》。本次展览汇集了来自国际艺术家的近作和为展览度身定制的新作，以及来自当代舞蹈、时装摄影以及20世纪中期纪实摄影的作品。
自1990年代初以来，著名德国艺术家Wolfgang Tillmans藉由其摄影以及在出版和杂志领域的实践，不断探索着气概、仪态、体貌等诸多在当代视觉文化中的男性形象的代表特征。其为本次展览创作的墙面装置延续了他经典、个性化的摄影展示模式。精选了来自2000至2010年间的代表作品，涵盖了青年肖像、日常静物、亚文化生活的摄影速写等他广为人知的门类，这组作品汇成了一篇第一人称的小说，探讨了男性青年生活中情感、欲望、知性等层面。活跃于国际舞台和艺术界的法国编舞家Jérôme Bel则呈上了一则同样私密坦诚的自我叙事——始于三年前，曾在全球各地巡演，备受好评的由同名当代舞演员Cédric Andrieux出演的《Cédric Andrieux》——在通过第一人称叙事解构了当代舞蹈这一媒介的过程中再现了一个既真实又具有表演虚构的男性的记忆与内心世界。
不同的媒介与形式的介入使得男性的形象变得更为丰富、精准。北京艺术家刘窗的《收购》（2007）展示了艺术家从路人身上搜罗的全部物品，以分类学的方式加以分类、归纳、整理，陈列开来，由此一个主人公缺失的肖像变得丰满生动。越南裔丹麦艺术家Danh Vo惯以挪用现成品修改其属性。为展览特约创作的《Bud Lite》系一件烫金的Bud Light啤酒包装纸盒，提供了对消费社会中男性特征与体验的写照。
为2006年利物浦双年展委约创作的双频录像装置《信念》无疑是著名泰国电影导演、艺术家Apichatpong Weerasethakul两部经典长篇《热带疾病》、《百年症候群》的投影，叙事相仿和主旨关联，这部短篇寄宿于科幻电影的外壳，在对两位类似宇航员的男性角色的反复描摹中寄托了艺术家对逝去爱情、记忆的缅怀。展览中另一部出自杭州艺术家程然之手的短片《希望之屋》乃是对已故英国导演Derek Jarman的回忆。