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 (working title), 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 (working title) is supported by K11 Art 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.


Ai Weiwei, Hu Qingyan, Li Zhanyang, Liu Ding, Not Vital

March 3 - May 9, 2015

Hu Qingyan

Cloud, 2012
45 x 96 x 55 cm


2015 (english)

With the group exhibition Mármakos (the Greek word for “marble”) Galerie Urs Meile is showing a diverse selection of marble sculptures by Ai Weiwei, Hu Qingyan, Li Zhanyang, Liu Ding, and Not Vital. Marble has been a popular material for sculptures since the beginning of time in both Western and Chinese culture. In China marble from Dali is especially favored. Dali marble is known for its great variety and its natural striations of black and white. Often it is cut into slices and polished, and the various natural patterns seem to resemble mountains or rivers, a popular motive of Shanshui painting. Not Vital’s (*1948 in Sent, Engadin, Switzerland) works ((Landscape, 2014, marble, plaster, 126 × 65 × 22 cm; untitled, 2011, marble, plaster, 51 × 36.5 × 23 cm; Mountains, 2013, marble, plaster, 76 × 45 × 20 cm; Mountains, 2013, marble, plaster, 45.5 × 64.5 × 20.5 cm) are inspired by this tradition. Vital selected a slab of marble and set it in a three-dimensional plaster frame. The reliefs mounted on the wall are reminiscent of inverted windows in historic Engadin houses. Combining local materials with references to his home territory in Engadin, Switzerland, is a typical approach for Not Vital, who also has a studio in Beijing and spends time working there.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (*1957 in Beijing, China) likes to sculpt everyday objects out of marble, contrasting and ennobling the ordinary object by using the precious material (Marble Plate No. 4, 2009, marble, 28 × 50 × 28 cm). Ai Weiwei’s Marble Tree (2012, marble, 205 x 87 x 90 cm) is much more abstract than the sculptures of trees he has made out of wood or iron. But, as we can see with Ai Weiwei’s Marble Chair (No.5) (2008, marble, 125 × 52 × 50 cm), it is possible to produce very detailed work in marble. The realistic Marble Rebar (2012, marble, 11 × 57 × 20 cm) is a critical monument commemorating the Sichuan school corruption scandal. Because they were unprofessionally constructed, many school buildings collapsed during the Sichuan earthquake in 2008 and five thousand students died.

Li Zhanyang’s (*1976 in Changchun, Jilin province, China) 80’0000 RMB (2010, marble, 40 x 55 x 35, cm, edition 2/8), on the other hand, is a personal memorial. Once 80’000 RMB in cash were stolen out of Li Zhanyang’s cabinet. After a lengthy and unpleasant investigation by the police, the money suddenly reappeared in the same place and the same position. Li Zhanyang credited this miracle to a Christian policeman helping with the case and and the incident is recalled in the marble sculpture of a stack of money.

The human body is a more traditional subject for marble, but, as the title suggests, Li Zhanyang chose a very unconventional part for his work, Marble Ass (2004, marble, 14 x 38 x 28 cm, edition 2/4). In contrast, Liu Ding’s (*1976 in Changzhou Jiangsu Province, China) Hero (2007, white marble, black marble [sculpture on base], 210 cm, ø 30 cm, edition 3/8) is at first glance an idealized and traditional marble sculpture. Liu Ding applied the rules of the Russian revolutionary sculpting tradition—which remains the primary style Chinese students study in art academies to this day—to the portrait of an anonymous person. For example, he enlarged the head 1.5 times, made it face the right at an angle of 45 degrees, and highlighted every facial feature. Furthermore he placed this “hero” bust outdoors for a period of time until it was covered with bird droppings and dust, thus giving the classic work a defiant and ironic twist.

Hu Qingyan (*1982 in Weifang, Shandong province, China) studied sculpture with the same traditional approach, but has since developed his own conceptual idea of sculpture. Inspired by a dream in which he was flying through the sky, Hu Qingyan realized a self-portrait as a Cloud (2012, marble, 45 x 96 x 55 cm), because he wanted to make a sculpture that deals with the relationship between the image, mass, and the sculpture itself. The marble cloud with a matte finish has exactly the same amount of volume as the artist. Related to this idea is the work One Breath – Karin (2011, marble, 27 x 23 x 16 cm). One Breath is a series of portraits showing the lung capacity of the person portrayed. The works make it possible to visualize the amount of breath each person can hold. Hu Qingyan asks the people he is depicting to exhale once into a plastic bag. He then translates the bag into a marble sculpture.


2015 (deutsch)

Galerie Urs Meile Luzern zeigt mit der Gruppenausstellung Mármakos (griechisch: Marmor) eine divergente Auswahl von Marmorskulpturen von Ai Weiwei, Hu Qingyan, Li Zhanyang, Liu Ding und Not Vital. In der westlichen wie in der chinesischen Kultur ist Marmor seit jeher ein beliebter Werkstoff der Bildhauerei. Der Marmor aus Hebei und Dali ist in China besonders begehrt. Dali-Marmor ist aufgrund seiner grossen Vielfalt und seiner ausgeprägten Maserung gefragt und wird häufig in Platten geschnitten und gerahmt, so dass die natürlichen Muster an Berge oder Flüsse wie sie aus der Shanshui Malerei bekannt sind, erinnern. Not Vitals Arbeiten (Landscape, 2014, Marmor, Gips, 126 × 65 × 22 cm; untitled, 2011, Marmor, Gips, 51 × 36.5 × 23 cm; Mountains, 2013, Marmor, Gips, 76 × 45 × 20 cm; Mountains, 2013, Marmor, Gips, 45.5 × 64.5 × 20.5 cm) wurden von dieser Tradition inspiriert. Not Vital wählte Marmorplatten aus und fasste sie mit einem dreidimensionalen Rahmen aus Gips ein. Die skulpturalen Reliefs, die sich verjüngend aus der Wand heraus ragen, an umgekehrte Fenster eines alten Engadiner Hauses. Das ist ein typische Vorgehen für Not Vital, der auch ein Studio in Bejing hat und dort zeitweise lebt, lokale Materialien mit Referenzen aus seiner Heimat Engadin zu verbinden.

Der chinesische Künstler Ai Weiwei fertigt häufig Alltagsgegenstände aus Marmor. Er kontrastiert und adelt die gewöhnlichen Objekte zugleich durch die Umsetzung in dem wertvollen Material (Marble Plate (No. 4), 2009, Marmor, 28 × 50 × 28 cm). Ai Weiweis Marble Tree (2012, Marmor, 205 × 87 × 90 cm) ist viel abstrakter als seine anderen Baumskulpturen aus Holz oder Eisen. Wie man an Ai Weiweis Marble Chair (No.5) (2008, marble, 125 × 52 × 50 cm) sehen kann, ist es möglich, naturalistisch und detailliert mit Marmor zu arbeiten. Beide Werke von Ai Weiwei wurden aus einem einzigen Marmorblock gefertigt, was neben grossem Geschick auch extreme Vorsicht erfordert. Die bis ins Detail ausgearbeitete Marble Rebar (2012, Marmor, 11 × 57 × 20 cm) ist ein kritisches Monument, das an den Sichuan School Corruption Scandal erinnert. Durch ihre unsachgemässe Bauweise waren während des Erdbebens in Sichuan 2008 ungewöhnlich viele Schulen eingestürzt und 5000 Schüler umgekommen.

Li Zhanyangs Arbeit 80’0000 RMB (2010, Marmor, 40 × 55 × 35, cm, Edition 2/8) ist hingegen ein eher persönliches Denkmal. Li Zhanyang wurde einmal Bargeld in Höhe von 80’000 RMB aus seinem Schrank gestohlen. Nach einer langen und für alle Beteiligten unangenehmen Ermittlung im Umfeld des Künstlers tauchte das Geld plötzlich wieder an der Stelle auf, an der es verschwunden war. Li Zhanyang schrieb das Wunder einem christlichen Polizisten zu, der bei den Ermittlungen geholfen hatte, und erinnert daran mit seiner Marmorskulptur eines vergrösserten Geldbündels von 80’000 RMB.

Der menschliche Körper ist sicherlich das traditionellste und häufigste Motiv von Marmorskulpturen. Li Zhanyang wählte für seine Arbeit Marble Ass (2004, Marmor, 14 × 38 × 28 cm, Edition 2/4), wie der Titel nahelegt, ein selten allein porträtiertes Körperteil. Im Gegensatz dazu ist Liu Dings Hero (2007, weisser Marmor, schwarzer Marmor, 210 cm, ø 30 cm, Edition 3/8) eine auf den ersten Blick klassische, idealisierte Marmorskulptur, die streng in der Tradition des Russischen Realismus umgesetzt wurde. Liu Ding wandte die Regeln des bis heute vorherrschenden Stils an Chinesischen Kunsthochschulen auf das Portrait einer anonymen Person an. Er vergrösserte beispielsweise den Kopf um den Faktor 1.5, liess ihn in einem Winkel von 45 Grad nach rechts schauen und verstärkte alle Gesichtszüge. Weiterhin platzierte er seinen „Helden“ für einige Zeit draussen, so dass dieser durch Vogeldreck und Staub verunreinigt wurde. Dadurch und durch die Überhöhung einer anonymen Person fügte er der vermeintlich klassischen Arbeit eine trotzige und ironische Note hinzu.

Hu Qingyan erhielt ebenfalls einen traditionelle Bildhauerausbildung, hat aber seit dem Studienabschluss seine eigene konzeptuelle Idee von Skulptur entwickelt. Inspiriert von einem Traum, in welchem er durch den Himmel flog, realisierte Hu Qingyan ein Selbstportrait als Wolke (Cloud, 2012, Marmor, 45 × 96 × 55 cm). Er wollte eine Skulptur kreieren, die das Verhältnis von Bild, Masse und Skulptur verdeutlicht. Die matte Marmorwolke hat dasselbe Volumen wie der Künstler. Verwandt mit dieser Idee ist auch die Arbeit One Breath – Karin (2011, Marmor, 27 × 23 × 16 cm). One Breath ist eine Serie von Portraits, die das Lungenvolumen der dargestellten Personen zeigen. Sie machen die Menge an Atem sichtbar, die der Einzelne halten kann. Hu Qingyan bittet seine “Modelle” ein einziges Mal ganz in einen Plastikbeutel auszuatmen. Die mit Luft gefüllte Tüte setzt er dann in Marmor um.