28 June 2015 -
26 September 2015
Nicolas Mazet will launch “Asian Spring,” an Asian season at Gallifet Art Centre in Aix en Provence at the end of June, thanks to the work of curators Véronique Maxé and Flore Durand, and the participation of the Albert Benamou gallery in Paris. Together, they have selected artists from the East who offer an engaged insight into the major societal shifts affecting their communities.
The Albert Benamou-Veronique Maxé gallery has specialised in Chinese art for many years and opened the doors of the Orient to a French public, showcasing artists who have gone on to achieve worldwide acclaim.
The “Asian Dream,” whose four pillars are rejuvenation, improvement of living conditions, prosperity and building a better society, is based on an ideology that distinguishes itself from the American Dream through its advocacy of a collective effort in the service of national glory. The collectivist, Buddhist and Taoist influences that feed into this outlook clash with the rapid emergence of a rampant market economy and the equally sudden urbanisation by which this economic vision is accompanied.
Under the impact of rapid social, economic and environmental changes, the artists express the antagonisms they witness. Yang Yongliang reworks the traditional aesthetics of China’s mountainous landscapes to illustrate the ecological upheavals whose consequences we cannot immediately grasp. The feelings of attraction/repulsion towards this new world characterise Chen Jiagang’s documentary work and photography, which do not shy away from modern society’s darkest aspects.
Deprived of the founding myths of the language and peoples of his own culture, Chinese artist Du Zhenjun draws his inspiration from the Old Testament to illustrate with his Towers of Babel the biblical fable of God’s wrath, which he applies to man’s current excesses.
Our relationship with nature is further explored in the work of Huang Yan who, by depicting his subject matter as if it were made from traditional porcelain, emphasises at once the beauty and fragility of the natural world. This world is transformed into sculptures by Ru Xiaofan, who reverses current power dynamics with his floral representations, worthy of John Wyndham’s novel The Day of the Triffids. The work of Yun Ayoung plunges us into a dreamlike world reminiscent of the universe of James Cameron’s Avatar.
Korean artist Choi Xooang asks us: “What is the position of man? Is he the master or the slave of the environment that he himself has shaped?” For Zhang Huan, the individual can and must express himself through words and through action, while Cang Xin demonstrates that it is possible to exist through a state of quiet meditation that unites us with nature. As for Kazakhstani artist Almagul Menlibayeva, her videos of the desolate plains of Central Asia remind us of a lost paradise where, despite all adversity, man continues to believe in the value of life.