The shortlisted work ‘Performing the Feminine II’ is inspired by the iconic drag ‘ball culture’. In particular, the drag ball scene illuminates themes revolving around race, gender, and sexual orientation within society. Drag balls are competitions that consist of individuals, often drag queens, performing various genders and social groups. The shortlisted mixed media painting is a commentary on the fluidity of gender roles. Doyle’s painting provides a platform for discussion on how an antiquated social structure has limited and reduced gender identity to a fixed, binary status. Through the drag performance represented in ‘Performing the Feminine II’, the exploration and interplay of femininity versus masculinity is put on display. The choice of materials in the painting emphasises such interplay. Metal, wood, hard angles, and solid colours symbolising the ‘male’ are juxtaposed with fabrics, light patterns, and vibrant colours associated with femininity.
Stephanie Kilgast is a French artist working with ready-mades and found objects such as plastic bottles and aluminium cans. The artworks she chooses are usually sourced from trashcans and question the excessive wastage currently governing the lifestyle of the 21st century.
Her work is an ode to life, where plants and fungi meet insects, animals, and minerals. Their bright and colourful tones dominate over the pale and subdued colours and shapes of the found objects. The colourful swirls of nature develop on these ready-mades, thus stimulating a dialogue between humanity and nature. Those very items which are typically trashed, discarded, and forgotten are here brought to the foreground. The viewer is invited to observe not only the pieces themselves, but also the environmental crisis humanity has created and question the lost balance between human activities and nature.
David Antonio Loureiro
Readily recognisable by its hybrid figures, fragmented objects, and spatial indeterminacy, the artwork of David Antonio Loureiro is first and foremost a statement about rupture. By playing with the viewer’s perceptions, the characters, as well as the indoor and outdoor spaces, tend to become confused or disappear, then rematerialize in the composition. This process is also emphasised by the intertwining of figuration and abstraction, as visible in ‘Le Fusillé Souriant’.
Using historically identifiable figures for his compositions, usually attributed to classical painting, David hopes to stimulate his audience to recognise the subjects of the paintings. Despite their architectural feel, his paintings use a mixture of impasto, transparency, and superimpositions to provide the content with a surprising materiality. The intention is to generate doubts and questions about the events unfolding in the artworks, rather than certainty, in the viewer's mind.
Mothered by algorithms and trapped in an age of extreme mechanisation of the world, David’s paintings also aim to stimulate the idea of a reconciliation with oneself and the human condition. These ‘other’ spaces deploy micro-narratives using experiences from our own human and historical existence. His paintings therefore question people’s relationship with the world and our figures of authority; they question what it is that shaped, shapes, and will shape the human condition.
Li expresses love, hate, and desire as rooted within the depths of human nature. Such expression is achieved by overlapping figuration and abstraction in her paintings, using the natural changes and disasters that occur in her landscapes as metaphors for human emotions and sensibility.
Li primarily works with watercolours. Yet, as visible in artworks from the ‘Echoes of the Silence’ and ‘Fire & Desire’ series, she challenges the conventional views of this medium, which is usually conceived of as delicate, fragile, and gentle. In her paintings, the medium is not so transparent, not so spontaneous in some parts, and not so ‘watercolour’ anymore. The brushstrokes are thick and substantial, almost concealing the nature of the medium.
- Echoes of the Silence
Traditional Chinese scholars like to express their feelings through beautiful depictions of nature, thus placing a significant emphasis on the innate ties between the person and the environment in which he or she lives. J. Li hopes to similarly draw on these connections, albeit emphasising the increasing dilapidation of our natural surroundings. Unlike the odes to Mother Nature of the past, she hopes to highlight the current obliteration of nature, in which the forceful and overwhelming rage of the landscape is a reflection of the inner decay of humankind.
- Fire & Desire
‘Of desires, some are natural and necessary, some are natural but not necessary, and some are neither natural nor necessary, but come about depending on empty belief’ Epicurus (KD 29).Epicurus, the advocate of Hedonism, did not promote indulgence without purpose. Moreover, desire is the instinctive engine of life itself. Regardless of whether it is physical or psychological, human desire is never static. It is like a fire, or better, a wildfire, often dominating reason. J. Li’s ‘Fire and Desire’ expands upon the themes of ‘Echoes of the Silence’ by proposing desire, here metaphorically depicted as sublime wildfires, as the driving force of human action which, with purposeful lack of reason, can also be a source of self-destruction.
Jeongkeun Lee, winner of the Sunny Art Prize 2017, is a photographer who primarily works with staged landscapes and environments in the form of installations then reproduced and re-contextualises them through the photographic medium. His ‘Despaysement’ and ‘Personal Ritual’ series attract positive feedback for their ability to bridge such staged counter-realities and the real world. He does this by exploiting photography as a tool to conjure parallel worlds impregnated with ritualistic symbolism, using photography as a mediator between spaces, people and objects.
Visit the exhibition at the Harmony Art Gallery, Shanghai, between April 12th and June 12th 2019. Admission Free.