Exhibition November 30, 2007 - End of February 2008
Chen Shaoxiong was one of the founders of the contemporary art scene in Guangzhou. He initiated the Big Tail Elephant Group, with the purpose of dealing with political and social themes. In 2003, he and the group took part in the Venice Biennial. Since then his work has been seen in all of the large exhibitions of Chinese art in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere around the world.
Chen Shaoxiong realizes works about his theme "the rapid transformation of China's cities" in different media and techniques, using photography as his basis. In his series Collective Memory, photographs of the Great Hall of the People, the Gate of Heavenly Peace in Tiananmen Square, and of modern skyscrapers such as the Dawang Tower in Beijing are rastered, the pixels enlarged and then transferred to canvas or rice paper. The actual image is created in an action involving many people, who live in the areas which are shown in the paintings. Thousands of them dip their fingers into ink to blacken the dots with their inky fingerprints. Each individual fingerprint represents an individual memory of the urban architecture, and together, they form a collective memory of the city's inhabitants.
The rapid process of urbanization is changing the familiar image of cities everywhere and every day in China. Today's reality might already be a memory by tomorrow. Streetscape is Chen Shaoxiong's reaction to the rapid transformation of his home town, Guangzhou. He photographs the streets: vehicles, pedestrians, benches, advertising, and much more. He carefully clips out people and things, and then rearranges them into new scenes, as if they were props on a stage. Everything is miniaturized, flat, theatrical: the pulsating tempo of the big city comes to a standstill. Guangzhou is dissected, frozen into a particular historical situation, like a model. Chen Shaoxiong also photographs his Chinese panoramas in front of backdrops such as large European cities, creating a montage of several layers of space and time. He likes the idea of blending his city with other cities and cultures in order to create a fictional reality.
Chen Shaoxiong, born in 1962 in Shantou province, Guangdong, China, studied printmaking until 1984 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Guangzhou. In 1990 he and Lin Yilin, Liang Juhuo, and Xu Tan founded the Big Tail Elephant Group. In 2003 the group's work was featured at the Venice Biennial. Chen Shaoxiong's work has been seen in many exhibitions of contemporary Chinese art, most recently Living in Time at the Hamburger Bahnhof, in Berlin, All under Heaven at the Ullens Foundation, MHKA, in Antwerp, and China Power Station I at the Serpentine Gallery in London. Chen Shaoxiong lives and works in Guangzhou and Beijing.