Fou Gallery announces Siyuan Tan’s solo exhibition "Face Off" opening on May 25

TEXT:Sue Wang    TIME: 2019.5.17

Fou Gallery is pleased to announce Siyuan Tan’s solo exhibition Face Off from May 25th to June 23rd, 2019. An artist’s talk and opening reception will be held on May 25th, from 4–8 pm. Siyuan Tan’s work focuses on the confrontation between virtual and physical spaces. His work takes a post-internet approach by employing tangible materials and representational images to pose questions of critical reflection to society, and modes of perception, following the widespread adoption of the internet.

Tan’s work utilizes tangible media and forms to explore tensions between two coexisting but “opposing” spaces. The idea is derived from both Tan’s cultural and academic background. Tan was raised in Liaoning Province, Northeast China, which is famous for its coal mining industry. Tan’s experience growing up, including childhood memories of a deceased parent’s spirit, made him aware of the imaginative space that co-exists, intertwines, and sometimes conflicts with the physical space he occupies. His practice as a sculptor further deepened his understanding of these two spaces, which the artist describes as a virtual, “nihilistic space” that transforms into the visible—the physical and concrete form that arises during the process of making molds. Through this experience, Tan found that the ensemble of tangible forms bore a vivid resemblance to the abstract relationships between virtual and physical spaces or, in a broader sense, between two confrontational forces.

Face Off presents the artist’s continued interest in coexisting spaces. His recent body of work on view includes both sculptures and paintings, which experiment with the features of tangible materials and forms, as well as their embodiment of and commentary on the way the virtual—especially the contemporary digital domain—plays with our physical reality, including facts and truths. As the exhibition’s title suggests, each of Tan’s works are filled with juxtaposition and confrontation.

The two sculpted figures attempting to tear each other apart—drawing inspiration from the aftermath of WikiLeaks—alludes to the virtual, seesaw-like fight between individuals and authorities over the power to claim the truth. The miniature and fragmented replicas of the ancient miracles are a response to the replacement of monumental physical existences by their flattened online screenshots. The clearly-printed proverbs set against the vaguely-sprayed backgrounds of daily clichés legitimate the digital fragments as a core of daily life, rather than the layered, sensory, and immersive experience people physically inhabit. With notorious public figures, de-canonized icons, and dried-out daily moments, the exhibition puts together a parody of contemporary life, in both the virtual and concrete domains, wherein every spectator would, at some point, find a way to interlink themselves. Additionally, the exhibition implies the result led by this face-off between virtual and real spaces: as the online virtual world, a large part of which is imaginative, keeps colonizing our real life, the perception of facts and meanings is being challenged, reshaped, and overwritten—repeatedly and rapidly.

Public programs focusing on the confrontation between the digital world and our physical reality will accompany the exhibition. The first is a film screening and panel discussion curated by Yi Bingying, a filmmaker and creative practitioner in digital media. Along with the discussion is a cocktail experience curated by Siyuan Tan. The second program features an interactive digital gaming experience led by independent game designer Hu Wengu. Hu will present his project, Zombies Shall Not Pass!, which allows participants to join a “face-off” between zombies and humans in a virtual city with their body gestures being captured.

About the exhibition

Dates: May 25–June 23, 2019

Artist’s Talk: May 25, 2019, 4–5 pm

Opening Reception: May 25, 2019, 5–8 pm

Location: Fou Gallery, 410 Jefferson Ave #1, Brooklyn, New York, NY 11221

Hours: Saturday 11 am – 6 pm, or by appointment (

Curator: Wang Yangxingyue

Courtesy of the artist and Fou Gallery, for further information please visit