Chambers Fine Art
522 West 19th Street, New York
212 414 1169
Tue-Sat: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Ho Sintung: Surfaced
Feb 02-Apr 01
Chambers Fine Art is pleased to announce the opening of Ho Sintung: Surfaced on February 2nd, 2017. Born in Hong Kong in 1986, Ho Sintung graduated from the Department of Fine Arts of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2008 and currently lives and works in Hong Kong. This will be her first exhibition in New York. Preferring to work on a small scale and favoring pencil and graphite on paper above other media, she gives visual expression to her intentional misreading of all aspects of the cinema, not only films themselves but the buildings in which they are shown, posters and other ephemera. Drawing from her interest in films and literature, her work also reveals her familiarity with a wide range of twentieth century visual art to which she refers in her tongue-in-cheek hommages to the movies. The title she has chosen for this exhibition Surfaced is taken from a short story a dark tale that is fittingly related to drawing part of Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio by the Qing dynasty author Pu Songling. In Surfaced the focus on horror movies is supplemented by designs for vintage LP covers and newspaper ads for imaginary movies. She recognizes that the horror film has a significance in the history of film that should not be neglected it tirelessly brings up the past, retelling stories that have been rejected over and over again. It makes sure that prayers that were unheard will be heard justice that was absent will resurface once more. Horror films respond to reality in the same way that our bodies react to horror films. These drawings, although milder and more tactful in tone, disrupt the familiarity of the densely-knit fabric of day-to-day life, exposing its inner abnormality. Touching upon the literary world, Sintungs Hearts of Darknesses re-creates the book covers for 17 existing editions of Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness, albeit with all the text removed. The heart is such an abstract idea, yet different designers across the world attempted to capture its essence with landscapes. By re-painting these covers, I create my own collection of haunted landscapes. Her fastidiously executed posters for imaginary horror films with their off-beat humor and eccentric typography captivate with their mordant wit. Who would not want to sneak into a darkened theater to see The Weaker Man: A Zombie Apocalypse of the Homeless, in which zombie police only attack the homeless or Frankensticker, a tantalizing variation on perhaps the most famous horror story of all time? Equally enticing is When the Triangle Descends the Stairs, a rare abstract incursion into the realm of the horrific. In a number of cases film stills give a foretaste of the horrors awaiting viewers of the movies as, for example, in Outlive the Light in which the temperature rises from 37 to 124 degrees in five days. In the small gallery Ho Sintung pays homage to one of the twentieth centurys most notorious cinematic masterpieces, Pier Paolo Pasolinis Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom which was inspired by the magnum opus of the Marquis de Sade. Obsessed by the design of the carpet with a geometric design reflecting the aesthetics of the fascists that became the stage for torture scenes, Ho Sintung replicates it in Last Party as portraits of the actors and actresses establish a dialog with the viewer and Pasolinis poem Goodbye and best wishes scrolls down the wall in lieu of film credits. The particular charm of Ho Sintungs posters for non-existent films and installations derives from her ability to compress a wide range of cinematic, art historical and literary references into carefully orchestrated compositions. Executed with the colored pencil on tea-stained paper they exude what the artist refers to as an antiquated quality. Unique among cinastes, she gives visual expression to her mis-reading of all aspects of the cinema rather than formal and critical analysis.
Endurance: New Works by Xie Xiaoze
Apr 06-Jun 17
Chambers Fine Art is pleased to announce the opening on April 6th of Endurance: New Works by Xie Xiaoze. Born in Guangdong, China in 1966, Xie Xiaoze graduated from Tsinghua University and the Central Academy of Arts and Design, Beijing before moving to the United States and settling in Texas where he continued his studies in a very different environment. He is currently the Paul & Phyllis Wattis Professor in Art, Department of Art & Art History, Stanford University, California, USA.
As a realist painter by vocation, early in his career Xie found a way to combine his passionate interest in Chinese history and current world events with more formal concerns by focusing on the materials stored in archives and library stacks as the subject matter of his paintings. During his career he has approached this subject matter in many different ways but it is paintings of libraries with which he is most closely associated. The first painting in the Library Western Books Series dates from 1993 but the theme has still not been exhausted. In late 1994 when he returned to China for the first time since moving to the United States, he began working on the Chinese Library Series which is also still ongoing. Ten years later in 2005 a change of emphasis began with the Museum Library Series in which the treatment of the photographic sources is generally more specific.
The current exhibition includes paintings based on photographs that Xie took in libraries in Beijing, Kathmandu, New York, Oxford, New Haven, and Toronto. Unlike the German photographer Candida Hfer whose photographs of famous libraries concentrate on the splendid architectural surroundings created to house collections of books, Xie focuses on telling details, only rarely revealing the name of an author or title of a volume. A great deal is revealed, however, as he lingers on decaying bindings or more serious damage caused by historical events.
In the 20th century Chinese libraries have suffered more than most, a fact treated with particular poignance in Xies Chinese Library series. Dramatic new additions to this theme are the works titled Through Fire Books that Survived the Anti-Japanese War of Resistance at Tsinghua University Nos. I, 2 and 3. After the Japanese invasion of China in 1937, Tsinghua University moved to the south of China and many books were gravely damaged. The partially burnt, scorched pages of these Chinese books and manuscripts attest equally to the long history of suffering caused by global conflicts in the twentieth century and to the constant risk of the effacement of historical memory whether caused by accident or deliberately.
The ancient leather and vellum bound volumes depicted in paintings of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto and the Beinecke Rare Books & Manuscript Library are have also endured many centuries of turmoil and are often in a precarious state of preservation but they are now treasured and preserved in scholarly libraries. The prominence given to the metal shelving in The Morgan Library and Museum f 318 emphasizes the fragility of the books with their decaying bindings.
As a painter, Xie is also a cultural historian, deeply aware of what he refers to as the vulnerability of culture, memory, and history and the seeming decline of printed matter today. The somber tonality and large scale of his paintings endows the volumes with a singular gravitas. He achieves a remarkable balance between detailed recording of the appearance of his inanimate subject matter books and manuscripts and an increasing delight in fluid brushwork and painterly effects that often verge on abstraction.