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Xu Bing and Cha Guojun:
“Harmony vs. Confrontation”

Art Beatus Gallery
Vancouver BC Thru Oct 6, 2003

Cha Guojun - Composition of Characters No. 1
Cha Guojun, Composition of Characters No. 1, mixed media on paper
[Art Beatus Gallery, Vancouver, BC, Thru Oct 6, 2003]

Chinese artists Xu Bing and Cha Guojun apply Western drawing and painting styles to their work featured in the exhibit, Harmony vs. Confrontation. But simultaneously and separately, their works have strong ties to their past and their early training as artists in China.

Xu Bing once replicated the Chinese character for “tree” to create the illusion of a forest in a landscape. His inversion of the pictographic roots of Chinese characters is reminiscent of the calligraphic aspect of American expressionism, as exemplified by Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollack. Bing’s work on the subject of calligraphy includes large-scale installations and conceptual artworks that explore contemporary ideas about art. The best example may be a recent exhibit, Introduction to New English Calligraphy, for which he created a simulated classroom. Visitors learned to copy Chinese characters – not realizing the words translated to such nursery rhymes as “Three Blind Mice”.

Cha Guojun’s style is more traditionally Western. He works in oil, ink and watercolour and his paintings are more referential than Bing’s. He uses as content the maze of canals, waterways and boats in his hometown, Suzhou. Coupled with artistic influences from his Chinese background, his evocative work has a strong minimalist manner with bold lines and painterly fluctuations of colour. Through his beautiful paintings, Guojun seeks to synthesize in each image the “reality” of actual settings and events; the “perception” of them; the “remembrance” of realities; and the imagination.

© Mia Johnson

 Wed, Sep 3, 2003