Cheng Ran
"In Course of the Miraculous"

April 25 - July 12, 2015
Opening: Saturday, April 25, 2015; 4 - 7pm

Cheng Ran

Version of the exhibition plan for Cheng Ran's In Course of the Miraculous, 18.12.2014

Cheng Ran
In Course of the Miraculous

2015 (english)

Galerie Urs Meile is pleased to announce the opening of In Course of the Miraculous, the latest exhibition by Cheng Ran. The show will feature a series of the artist’s works made during his two-year residency at the artists’ residency program of the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten (Royal Academy of Visual Arts) in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The artworks are in a variety of media including texts, video works and installations. The title is derived from Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader’s famous performance piece In Search of the Miraculous from the 1970s, and the exhibition considers the coexistence of real and false to open up an “exploration” of this thematic practice. For the artist, it is also a bold, experimental attempt to “explore” the language of film and the aesthetics of the shot. Cheng Ran’s main medium is video, and he has often parodied, distorted and reinterpreted the classical, but more recently his interests have extended to other media such as objets trouvés and sound performances.

This exhibition will feature an “unfinished” film without narratives, showing the artist’s preparations, the right and wrong assumptions made while shooting the film, and the changes that happened along the way in his ideas and practice. As the central part of the ongoing 9-Hour Film project, Storyboard Film borrows the cinematic technique of storyboarding: showing planned and altered shots, combined with the sound of murmuring. Together they form an abstract film of non-existent images, and from this perspective, Storyboard Film is like a secret channel drawing the audience into imagining a film, and its enormous and rich narrative possibilities. Cheng Ran has also specially designed a viewing space that evokes a cinematic feeling, which importantly allows him an exploration of time, space and the relationship with the audience. 9-Hour Film project is supported by K11 Art Foundation and Erlenmeyer Foundation, and when the film is finished, it will premiere in Europe at the Istanbul Biennial in September 2015.

A sailboat installation that was exhibited at the RijksakademieOPEN in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in December 2014 will get its first showing in Beijing. It has been rebuilt under specially arranged film lighting. Also, constituting fragmentary clues about this mysterious film, large-format light box photography, numerous objets trouvés, manuscripts and props are displayed as well. The large four-screen video Before Falling Asleep (2013, super 16 mm film transferred to single channel HD video, color/sound, Part 1: 5’55’’; Part 2: 4’11’’; Part 3: 4’; Part 4: 4’) was shot and produced in the Netherlands. This artwork was inspired by classic bedtime fairytales; the four parts were adapted from Aesop’s fables and Ivan Krylov’s stories of the same title. By anthropomorphizing the characters in the tales, conversations between the pond and the river, two pigeons, the fire and the tree, as well as the butterfly and the flower, touch on progress and stagnation, truth or lies, choosing or missing, and being faraway or at home. Cheng Ran is most interested in the narrative technique of using objects as metaphors, or using objects to express an aspiration, and the boundary between dreams and reality that cannot be expressed, as well as the overlap between the ideas in the stories and that state of trance occurring moments before falling asleep, when a child is between real life and dreamland. In terms of the design of the space, the collage carpet pieces with text provide more possibilities and metaphors on the space, story and language: it echoes from afar his solo exhibition of the same name, The Last Generation, which was based on a novel and presented at Galerie Urs Meile Beijing in 2013.

During the opening, the artist will also present an outdoor live music performance. To accompany the exhibition, the gallery will produce a publication that documents the objets trouvés, sketches and prints, and will be co-designed by independent designer Mei Shuzhi.

Cheng Ran was born in 1981 in Inner Mongolia, China and currently lives and works in Hangzhou. At the end of last year, he completed the two-year program of the Residency Artists Studio Project at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. This exhibition marks his fifth solo exhibition at Galerie Urs Meile. The artist’s most recent group shows include: The Tell-Tale Heart, chi art space, Hong Kong (2015); CINEMATHEQUE, chi K11 art museum, Shanghai, China (2015); Inside China, K11 Art Foundation Pop-up Space, Hong Kong (2015); and Inside China, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2014). Other group exhibitions include Decorum: carpets and tapestries by artists, Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China (2014); Degeneration, Australia China Art Foundation (ACAF), Sydney, Australia (2014); Degeneration, OCT Contemporary Art Terminal (OCAT), Shanghai, China (2013); ON|OFF: China’s Young Artists in Concepts and Practice, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), Beijing, China (2013); and The 1st CAFAM Future, CAFA Art Museum, Beijing, China (2012). This year, Cheng Ran will take part in a number of international exhibitions and art projects including the Istanbul Biennial and the group exhibition Van Gogh Letter to be held at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Cheng Ran was also shortlisted for the 2014 OCAT - Pierre Huber Prize.


Zhou Siwei

May 22 - July 18, 2015
Opening: Friday, May 22, 2015; 6 - 8pm

Zhou Siwei

oil colors on canvas
200 x 250 cm



Zhou Siwei

2015 (english)

Galerie Urs Meile is pleased to present Zhou Siwei’s (*1981 in Chongqing, China) first solo exhibition in Lucerne. The show will focus on his recent paintings and sculpture, but the artist also works in other media, such as photography, drawings, and installation. The works on display mark a continuation of Zhou Siwei’s previous exhibition, Round Studio, in 2014. Round Studio refers to the artist’s idea that each individual work is the beginning of another one and at the same time it is also the end of an older artwork.

Sources for Zhou Siwei’s paintings are usually preexisting compositions of colors and forms, such as logos or other designs. For example, his paintings BUBBLE 01 (2014, oil on canvas, 200 × 250 cm) and BUBBLE 02 (2015, oil on canvas, 180 × 140 cm) are based on a tutorial on how to make digital drawings on a computer. FENCE (SUNSET/UPSIDE DOWN) (2014, oil on canvas, 200 × 250 cm) is also based on a computer graphic of a fence, while DUNE (DOUBLE/ VERTICAL) (2014, oil on canvas, 180 × 140 cm) and ENVELOPE (2013–2014, oil on canvas, 180 × 140 cm) are based on schematic representations of a dune and an envelope. Zhou Siwei says he is interested in schematic depictions because of their effect on the beholder. According to Immanuel Kant, schemata are the transcendental link between sensual observation and the concepts of reason. They are the connection between insight, perception, and sense. Kant wasn’t talking about schematic images; rather, he coined the concept of “schema” to describe how the human brain structures information and creates patterns. Yet, his definition helps to understand the ambiguous nature of schematic designs. A schematic image is also both abstract and concrete. It doesn’t depict a specific fence, but portrays an universal idea of a fence. In that sense, it is closer to words and language than to the world of concrete visual impressions. It is an abstract invention that identifies and stands for a group of things. The digital drawing tutorial Zhou Siwei used as a model doesn’t teach how to draw a specific bubble, but how to draw bubbles in general. Additionally, the dune looks more like a logo of a dune, with its exaggerated and emblematic appearance. Zhou Siwei thinks that this reduced, abstract imagery will leave its beholders feeling empty and ambiguous due to its lack of connection to the real, sensuous world. On top of that, the artist confuses viewers by his choice to exhibit the landscape-format painting like a portrait, hanging it vertically so that the shape of the dune only becomes recognizable after the viewer reads the title and turns his head. Zhou Siwei also hung ENVELOPE, another landscape format, vertically and blurred the very familiar shape to make it less recognizable at first sight.

He dilutes the color with a lot of oil and never uses white in his paintings. As a result, his layers are transparent, on purpose, “I want the different layers all to be transparent, and leave them visible to the viewers, although some are not very accurate or appropriate.” Each of his paintings takes on a color scheme that is rich, but at the same time somewhat neutral. The colors are bright without being vibrant. One can see older versions of the painting through the transparent layers and also recognize each brushstroke. The brushstrokes give a certain rhythm to the paintings, while the depth of the transparent layers adds the element of time.

As the idea of the round studio implies, Zhou Siwei’s regards his oeuvre as a whole, a process of evolution and repetition. The relationship between the individual works is apparent. Zhou Siwei also created the sculptural work in the exhibition, MODEL 01 (NO IMAGE) (2015, resin, wood, sculptures between 10 × 6 cm and 68 × 8 cm, shelf: 3,5 × 350 × 55 cm), in relation to the paintings on display. On a wooden shelf with a white top he placed a variety of shapes sculpted out of pink resin. Here, the practice is contrary; he doesn’t build up layer after layer, but destroys the original shape of the resin block. One of the pale pink objects is reminiscent of the BUBBLE paintings, while another shape corresponds to FENCE. For Zhou Siwei, these sculptural objects are his connection to reality, because they are tangible, and also because working by hand seems to him more concrete than the transcendental space he creates with diluted oil colors. His sculptural works transfer the abstract designs back into three dimensions and, in doing so, transform them back into to a concrete object that again belongs in the realm of the senses.

Zhou Siwei was born in 1981 in Chongqing, China. Today he lives and works in Beijing. In 2005 he graduated from the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in Chongqing, China. Selected exhibitions: Twilight, 82 Republic, Hongkong, China, 2007; A Round Studio, Aike-Dellarco, Shanghai, China, 2014, Memo I, White Space Beijing, Beijing, China, 2013; Painting Lesson III: Elementary and Extreme Structure, Gallery Yang, Beijing, 2013; Cohere & Unroll, Space Station, Beijing, 2012; China – Chongqing 2, Artist exchange program, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2012; Anything is Possible, CCRN, Luxemburg, 2008; The 3rd Guiyang Biennial Exhibition, Guiyang Art Museum, Guizhou, China, 2007; and Archaeology Of The Future, The Second Triennial Of Chinese Art, Nanjing Museum, Nanjing, China, 2005.


2015 (deutsch)

Die erste Einzelausstellung von Zhou Siwei (*1981 in Chongqing, China) in der Galerie Urs Meile in Luzern konzentriert sich auf Malerei und Skulptur, aber der Künstler arbeitet auch in anderen Medien wie Fotografie, Zeichnung und Installation. Die gezeigten Werke sind als Fortsetzung von Zhou Siweis Ausstellung Round Studio von 2014 entstanden. Round Studio spielt auf die Auffassung des Künstlers an, dass eine Arbeit immer der Ausgangspunkt einer weiteren sei, aber zugleich auch das Ende eines älteren Werkes ist. Für seine Malereien geht Zhou Siwei meist von bereits existierenden Farb- und Formkompositionen wie Logos oder anderen Darstellungen aus. So basieren beispielsweise seine Gemälde BUBBLE 01 (2014, Öl auf Leinwand, 200 × 250 cm) und BUBBLE 02 (2015, Öl auf Leinwand, 180 × 140 cm) auf Bildern aus einem Computerkurs, mit dem man lernen kann, digitale Zeichnungen anzufertigen. Die Computergraphik eines Zaunes diente FENCE (SUNSET/UPSIDE DOWN) (2014, Öl auf Leinwand, 200 × 250 cm) als Vorlage und DUNE (DOUBLE/ VERTICAL) (2014, Öl auf Leinwand, 180 × 140 cm) und ENVELOPE (2013–2014, Öl auf Leinwand, 180 × 140 cm) basieren auf graphischen Darstellungen einer Düne und eines Briefumschlags. Zhou Siwei interessiert sich für schematische Darstellungen aufgrund ihrer Wirkung auf den Betrachter. Schemata sind nach Immanuel Kants Definition das verbindende Dritte zwischen sinnlicher Anschauung und dem Verstand. Sie seien die Verbindung von Wahrnehmung, Verstand und Verständnis. Kant sprach nicht von schematischen Bildern. Er verwendete den Begriff Schema, um zu beschreiben, wie das menschliche Gehirn Informationen strukturiert und Muster kreiert, aber seine Definition hilft, den mehrdeutigen Charakter von schematischen Darstellungen zu verstehen. Eine schematische Grafik ist beides: abstrakt und konkret. Sie zeigt keinen spezifischen Zaun, sondern die universelle Vorstellung von einem Zaun. In diesem Sinn ist sie Worten und Sprache ähnlicher als der Welt der konkreten Sinneseindrücke. Schematische Bilder sind ebenfalls abstrakte Erfindungen, die eine
Gruppe von Dingen identifizieren und repräsentieren. Der Computerkurs für digitales Zeichnen, der Zhou Siwei für BUBBLE als Vorlage diente, lehrt nicht, wie man zum Beispiel eine spezifische Blase abzeichnet, sondern wie man generell Blasen darstellt. Auch die Düne erinnert an Signaletik, da sie so übertrieben und zeichenhaft dargestellt ist. Zhou Siwei glaubt, dass die reduzierten und abstrakten Bilder ihren Betrachter mit dem Gefühl der Leere und der Unklarheit zurücklassen. Zusätzlich werden einige der ursprünglich im Querformat gemalten Bilder hochkant präsentiert. Die Düne wird für den Ausstellungsbesucher erst ersichtlich, nachdem er den Bildtitel gelesen und den Kopf gedreht hat. Zhou Siwei präsentiert auch das Querformat ENVELOPE hochkant und verwischte obendrein die Linien, um die Form weniger erkennbar zu machen.

Der Künstler verdünnt die Farben mit viel Öl und verwendet niemals weiss in seinen Bildern. Daher sind seine Farbschichten transparent und das mit Absicht: „Ich möchte, dass die Farbschichten durchsichtig sind und dass der Betrachter auch die sehen kann, die nicht sauber oder zutreffend sind.“ Durch die jüngeren Farbschichten hindurch kann man die älteren Versionen des Bildes identifizieren und auch die Pinselstriche sind erkennbar. Zhou Siweis Gemälde greifen auf ein Farbschema zurück, das reich aber trotzdem neutral ist. Die Farben sind kräftig, ohne leuchtend zu sein. Die Pinselstriche geben dem Bild eine Art Rhythmus und die Tiefe, die durch die durchscheinende Farbe erzeugt wird, trägt das Element der Zeit bei.

Wie die Idee des Round Studio andeutet, sieht Zhou Siwei sein Werk als Ganzes, als einen fortlaufenden Prozess von Wiederholung und Evolution. Die Beziehungen zwischen den einzelnen Bildern sind ersichtlich. Die skulpturale Arbeit MODEL 01 (NO IMAGE) (2015, Kunstharz, Skulptur 1: 4 pcs, zwischen 10 × 6 cm und 68 × 8 cm, Regal: 3,5 × 350 × 55 cm) entstand ebenso im Hinblick auf die gezeigten Malereien. Auf einem Holzregal mit weisser Oberfläche platzierte er eine Reihe von Formen, die er aus rosa Kunstharz herausgearbeitet hat. Eines der hellrosafarbenen Objekte ähnelt den BUBBLE Gemälden, eine andere Form erinnert an FENCE. Dabei ist das Vorgehen entgegengesetzt zur Ölmalerei. Zhou Siwei baut nicht Schicht um Schicht aufeinander auf, er zerstört vielmehr die ursprüngliche Form des Kunstharzblocks. Für Zhou Siwei ist die skulpturale Arbeit die Anbindung an die Realität in der Ausstellung, da die Objekte greifbar sind und sie ihm durch ihre handwerkliche Herstellungsart konkreter vorkommen als die mit stark verdünnter Ölfarbe geschaffenen transzendentalen Räume. Die Skulpturen setzen die abstrakten Formen dreidimensional um und übersetzen die schematischen Bilder wieder in ein spezifisches Objekt, das sinnlich begreifbar ist.

Zhou Siwei wurde 1981 in Chongqing, China, geboren und lebt und arbeitet heute in Beijing. 2005 schloss er sein Kunststudium am Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in Chongqing, China, ab. Eine Auswahl seiner Ausstellungen beinhaltet: Twilight, 82 Republic, Hongkong, China, 2007; A Round Studio, Aike-Dellarco, Shanghai, China, 2014, Memo I, White Space Beijing, Beijing, China, 2013; Painting Lesson III: Elementary and extreme Structure, Gallery Yang, Beijing, China, 2013; Cohere & Unroll, Space station, Beijing, China, 2012; China – Chongqing 2 Artist exchange program, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2012; Anything is possible, CCRN, Luxemburg, Luxemburg, 2008; The 3rd Guiyang Biennial Exhibition, Guiyang Art Museum, Guizhou, China, 2007; und Archaeology Of The Future, The Second Triennial Of Chinese Art, Nanjing Museum, Nanjing, China, 2005.