Shao Fan
"Recent Works"

March 23 - May 6, 2018
VIP Preview: March 23 (Friday), March 24 (Saturday), 10am - 6pm (In accordance with Gallery Weekend Beijing VIP Preview)


Shao Fan

Old Ape in the Ravine, 2017
ink on rice paper
300 x 140 cm, detail


Recent Works

2018 (english)

Galerie Urs Meile Beijing is honored to announce Shao Fan (Yu Han)’s exhibition Recent Works. After the artist’s last solo show Big Rabbit + in 2016, the upcoming exhibition will extend the focus on new developments in his contemporary ink explorations.

Along with his diverse body of work—including painting, sculpture, landscape art and design—ink painting has always been an essential field of interest for Shao Fan and in the recent years resulted in a distinct body of work depicting predominantly portraits of animals. His works bespeak an almost obsessive fascination of Chinese traditional culture and its peculiar appreciation of Oldness 1. At the same time, they even more embody concepts and leanings of contemporary art in an international context, something particularly noticeable in his large-scale portraiture of animals.

When working with recurrent themes of different animals such as rabbits or apes, Shao Fan tries not to look at the depicted animal from a human perspective, but from the animal itself. Bestowing the dignity of a human-sized portrait on an “irrelevant” animal, he aims to express his own Taoist mindset with a unique contemporary language. The virtually infinite accumulation of one single type of brushstroke compiling an animal’s coat, the unexpected focus on an animal’s limbs or the unorthodox composition and perspective of the paintings are only a few hints to disclose the artist’s endeavor to put traditional thoughts into a contemporary context.

In Shao Fan’s works, artist and subject permeate each other producing new imagery challenging the audience’s ordinary viewing experience. Through the large size and frontal perspective of the paintings, the viewer confronts the intimidating gaze of Shao Fan’s animals on eye level—an awareness of the other arises, as does a new awareness of the self. The artist himself puts it: “Confrontation is an attitude, and while a frontal perspective could be understood as a limitation of an artist’s painterly expression, I prefer to use this limitation to provide new possibilities.” Today, Shao Fan struggles less with what to express, but instead focuses his efforts on how to express, even when it comes to the same position. Explorations and breakthroughs in technique have brought him unwittingly into another creative state—one marked by more freedom and flavor that presents unexpected imagery scenes.

The works on display will travel to Germany after the show where the Ludwig Museum in Koblenz will host Shao Fan’s first major solo appearance in a western art institution. The exhibition opening on 10 June, will showcase almost 30 years of the artist’s creative work including over 30 artworks. The exhibition will then be continued at the Suzhou Museum in China in November 2018.

Shao Fan, Zi: Yu Han, was born in 1964 to a family of artists in Beijing, and has lived there ever since. He studied painting with his mother and father from a young age. He has held many solo exhibitions and has repeatedly participated in important group exhibitions. His recent exhibitions include: Histoire naturelle, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Lucerne, Switzerland (2018); Big Rabbit +, Galerie Urs Meile Beijing-Lucerne, Beijing, China (2016); Chinese Whispers, Kuntsmuseum Bern and Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland (2016); A New Dynasty—Created in China, ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, Aarhus, Denmark (2015); “Secret Signs” Chinese contemporary calligraphy exhibition, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany (2014); De la Chine aux arts Decortifs, Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris, France (2014); St. Moritz Art Masters, St. Moritz, Switzerland (2013); Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA (2013); Go Figure! Contemporary Chinese Portraiture, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, Australia (2012); as well as the First Beijing International Design Triennial, National Museum of China, Beijing, China (2011). Numerous museums around the world, such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Peabody Museum of Salem in the United States, The National Art Museum of China, The Victoria and Albert Museum in England, Hong Kong’s M+ Museum, and The Fukuoka Art Museum in Japan, Royal Ontario Museum in Canada, Sigg Collection, Erlenmeyer Foundation in Switzerland, among others, have been collecting his works since 1988. In addition, a major retrospective exhibition will be held in June and November 2018, at the Ludwig Museum in Germany and the Suzhou Museum in China, respectively.

1. Shao Fan, Appreciation of Oldness, West Tiangezhuang Village, 2012.




Yang Mushi
"Compulsory Execution"

February 22 - April 14, 2018
Opening: February 22, 2018; 5.30-7.30pm


Yang Mushi

Paralleling - Branch,
2017 (No. 4), wooden
ladder, lacquer,
60 x 145 x 16 cm, detail


Compulsory Execution

2018 (english)

"When I was at school, I had to travel 40 kilometers every week from the eastern suburbs to the west side of the city. This experience allowed me to witness the city’s metamorphosis. Stores popping up on one day disappeared the other, as if they had never existed. Many of my memories are chaotic and peeling away layer by layer, which throws shadows over my logic and sense of security. It also finds its way to my art works. They eventually become my heaven and my hell of eternal self-defense."

— Yang Mushi

Galerie Urs Meile is pleased to announce the opening of Compulsory Execution, the first solo exhibition in the west for young emerging Chinese artist Yang Mushi (*1989). The exhibition follows his first solo show, Illegitimate Production, held in Beijing in 2016.

While creating his works, Yang Mushi enters a state of introspection that borders on self-torture. He submits himself to a rigorous daily routine, diligently working on his sculptural materials in vigorous acts of cutting, grinding and sharpening. As a final step, the surface is polished and covered with black lacquer, thus reducing the objects to dark shapes of strict aesthetics and a martial kind of beauty.

The exhibition in 2016 presented a group of works questioning the legitimacy of the industrial mass production and extreme urban development of China. The artist sees this body of works as a result of blindness, impulsivity and instinct, while Compulsory Execution represents his pursuit of analysis, rationality and restriction. The construction of the pieces, and the size and proportions of each component, are all carefully calculated. The result is aggressiveness, sharpness and anonymity that is considered by the artist as a tool of defense.

Inevitably, Compulsory Execution also reflects the current social reality in China. The discouragement of individual thinking fulfills a need for high social efficiency, at the cost of personal attributes, leading to a dull, unified and at worst combative community. Yang Mushi uses ready-made materials exclusively, after obliterating their original forms, traces and functions, he deliberately presents the brutal results of this “compulsory execution”.

The materials of Arraying - Branch (2017, tool handles, plywood, lacquer, 4 x 66 x 27 x 34 cm) come from various tool handles. After uniformly scaling down all sizes and filing away the edges, the objects are ground down into the shapes of bullets before being covered with black lacquer. They are then tightly placed onto four identical black backboards, all facing in one unified direction.

Overlaying - Branch (2017, protective barrier, plywood, lacquer, 155 x 42 x 19 cm) is made of a group of slim wooden pieces with both ends sharpened. The material is sourced from protective barriers which were used to protect house properties in the artist’s neighborhood. Yang Mushi first reduces the objects to hand tool size before cutting the top corners. The wood strips and plywood boards are then nailed together into two warped triangular columns with identical shrinking gradients and orientations. Then another set of protective barriers of the same size with both ends sharpened are nailed onto the exterior, thus covering the original structure. The gaps between wood strips are then filled to create an illusion of a singular whole.

Sharpening - Block (2017, wooden pallet, fiberboard, lacquer, 245 x 123 x 18 cm, 3 pieces) is made from used pallets. The artist cuts the material and assembles it into fist-sized objects, and then grinds it down into objects with edges and corners that are half ball, half cube shaped. Finally, they are nailed onto the black base plate in an orderly layout, creating a fragmented, forward-facing space.


2018 (deutsch)

"Als ich noch Schüler war, musste ich jede Woche 40 Kilometer weit von den östlichen Vororten der Stadt bis ganz in den Westen fahren. Diese Erfahrung ließ mich davon Zeuge werden, welche Metamorphosen die Stadt durchlebte. Läden, die an einem Tag auftauchten und am nächsten wieder verschwanden, als hätte es sie nie gegeben. Viele meiner Erinnerungen sind chaotisch und zerfasert, und das beeinträchtigt mein logisches Denken und meine Sicherheit. Es findet auch Eingang in meine künstlerischen Arbeiten. Mit der Zeit werden sie für mich zum Himmel und zur Hölle des ewigen Selbstverteidigens."

— Yang Mushi


Die Galerie Urs Meile freut sich, die Eröffnung von Compulsory Execution anzukündigen, der ersten Einzelausstellung des aufstrebenden jungen chinesischen Künstlers Yang Mushi (*1989) im Westen. Zuvor hatte er 2016 mit Illegitimate Production seine erste Einzelausstellung in Beijing.

Bei seinem Schaffensprozess agiert Yang Mushi in einem sich selbst ständig prüfenden, ja selbstquälerischen Arbeitsmodus: er unterwirft sich dabei einem streng geplanten Tagesablauf, formt gewissenhaft und mit kraftvollen Schnitten, Schleif und Schärfarbeiten an seinem Skulpturenmaterial. Im letzten Schritt wird jeweils die Oberfläche poliert und mit schwarzem Lack überzogen, was seine Objekte zu dunklen Gebilden von strenger Ästhetik und einer martialischen Schönheit reduziert.

Die Ausstellung im Jahr 2016 präsentierte eine Gruppe von Arbeiten, die die Legitimität der industriellen Massenproduktion sowie der extremen Stadtentwicklung in China in Frage stellten. Der Künstler sah in diesem Werkkomplex die Auswirkungen von Blindheit, Impulsivität und Instinkt, während er in Compulsory Execution sein Streben nach Analyse, Rationalität und Einschränkung darstellt. Das Konstruieren der Teile, die Größe der einzelnen Komponenten und die Verhältnisse zwischen ihnen sind sorgfältig berechnet. Das Ergebnis ist Aggressivität, Schärfe und Anonymität – die der Künstler als Waffen zur Verteidigung betrachtet.

Compulsory Execution reflektiert unweigerlich auch die derzeitige gesellschaftliche Wirklichkeit Chinas. Das Verbot des individuellen Denkens erfüllt den Anspruch hoher sozialer Effizienz, opfert jedoch dafür die Attribute der Persönlichkeit, und so entsteht eine dumpfe, aber in sich geeinte und im schlimmsten Fall angriffige Gemeinschaft. Yang Mushi verwendet vorgefertigte Materialien, und nachdem er alle ursprünglichen Formen, Spuren und Funktionen beseitigt hat, präsentiert er bewusst die brutalen Resultate der "Zwangsvollstreckung" (compulsory execution).

Die Materialien von Arraying – Branch (2017, Werkzeuggriffe, Sperrholz, Lack, 4x 66 x 27 x 34 cm) stammen von verschiedenen Griffen von Arbeitsgeräten. Nachdem er alle auf einheitliche Größe reduziert und die Kanten abgefeilt hat, werden die Objekte zu Projektilen geschliffen und dann schwarz lackiert. Anschließend werden sie auf vier identische schwarze Rückwände fixiert, die alle in dieselbe Richtung ausgerichtet sind.

Overlaying – Branch (2017, Schutzwall, Sperrholz, 155 x 42 x 19 cm) besteht aus einer Gruppe von schlanken Holzteilen, die an beiden Enden spitz zugeschliffen sind. Die Stücke stammen von Schutzwänden, die zur Sicherung von Häusern in der Nachbarschaft des Künstlers verwendet wurden. Zunächst reduziert Yang Mushi sie auf handliche Größe, bevor er die oberen Enden abschneidet. Die Holzleisten und Sperrholzplatten werden dann zu zwei verzogenen Dreieckssäulen mit identischen Reduktionsgradienten und Ausrichtungen zusammengenagelt. Dann wird ein weiterer Satz gleich großer Schutzwände mit beidseitig spitz geschliffenen Enden auf der Außenseite befestigt, womit die ursprüngliche Struktur verdeckt ist. Die Zwischenräume der Holzleisten werden dann ausgefüllt, um eine Illusion eines einheitlichen Ganzen zu erzeugen.

Sharpening – Block (2017, Holzpalette, Holzfaserplatte, Lack, 245 x 123 x 18 cm, 3 Objekte) entstand aus alten Paletten. Der Künstler schneidet das Holz zurecht und ordnet die Stücke zu faustgroßen Gebilden, die dann zu Objekten mit Ecken und Kanten auf halbem Wege zwischen Kugel und Würfelform abgeschliffen werden. Schließlich befestigt er sie auf einer schwarzen Grundplatte und ordnet sie dort regelmäßig an, was einen fragmentierten, vorwärts orientierten Raum schafft.