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Lu Chunsheng and Jia Aili: Counterpoints

31 Mar-15 May 2010

New work by contemporary Chinese artists

Lu Chunsheng

This is the European premiere of Lu Chunsheng’s film, The first man who bought a juicer bought it not for drinking juice, which mixes documentary and fantasy to theatrical effect. Lu Chunsheng showed in the Serpentine Gallery’s exhibition of Chinese art at Battersea Power Station.

The impetus for this film is Orson Welles’ fictional account of an alien invasion in The War of the Worlds which was mistaken for a real news item. It illustrates the influence of technology, mass media and the power of fear.

Lu Chunsheng portrays characters which are both human and mechanical. He documents the mechanistic progression of a combined reaper, a machine used for harvesting grain which is given Frankenstein-like characteristics. The artist presents technological development, and an examination of its implications.

Representing the consequences of the globalised era the characters repeat senseless acts. The other protoganist is a mechanic who cares for and repairs the reaper machine.The recording of this device, from its ‘birth’ in a factory, to ultimate use in a field is steeped in symbolism. It casts a relationship between man and machine in which humanity is denigrated to serve an alien species born from its own hands.

‘The first man who bought a juicer bought it not for drinking juice’ is the product of a residency at Artpace San Antonio, Texas organised by Hans Ulrich Obrist. Iniva’s staging is organised by David Thorp and Fountain as part of a wider touring exhibition of the film in Europe and South East Asia conceived, curated and produced by Fountain. Film commissioned and produced by Artpace San Antonio and supported by ShanghART Gallery, China.


Jia Alil

Make Believe… at Rivington Place is Jia Aili’s first solo exhibition in Europe, with new paintings and a site specific piece for the window overlooking Rivington Street.

Living and working in Beijing, Jia Aili narrates private moods rather than public events or modern day China. Here he presents monumental new paintings reflecting on the human condition, and the individual’s vulnerability in a rapidly developing world. A muted colour palette and quick brushwork conjure up disorientating emotions.

Jia Aili’s interest in the history of art is referenced in the site-specific piece, inspired by 16th-century painter Caravaggio’s famous painting The Incredulity of Saint Thomas. He applies a study of the shapes in the original work to the window creating a new composition.

‘His art… is about the human condition, which is why the images or scenes depicted are not specific to China, nor especially to the era… and individual experience in this rapidly modernising society acts as a backdrop to Jia Aili’s awareness of human frailty, vulnerability, and the need to be mindful of one’s surroundings.’
Karen Smith, curator and writer of contemporary Chinese art

Curated by David Thorp in collaboration with Platform China Contemporary Art Institute Jia Aili has been selected from a generation of emerging artists.

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