Yuz Museum presents "Duet: A Tan Ping Retrospective" in Shanghai

TEXT:Sue Wang    DATE: 2019.6.13

Yuz Museum will present “Duet”, a solo exhibition of Tan Ping curated by the renowned art historian and critic Wu Hung, on June 15th, 2019. Set in the present, the exhibition is a retrospective anthology of the 35 years of the artist’s creative career. Over 40 paintings, prints, videos and on-site paintings that constitute the exhibition provide a review of the artist’s upbringing, life and mental progress as well as an observation on his artistic evolvement via the experience and perspective of an individual life.

Tan Ping Covering-Yellow Acrylic on canvas 160x200cm 2013

Unlike familiar retrospectives, “Duet” does not stick to a chronological order, but applies the artist’s thinking and working method to approach the cogitation upon language and reality. As one of China’s significant contemporary artists, Tan Ping’s development has always been contextualized in the happening and progressing of Chinese contemporary art. The timeline of his uninterrupted exploration of the two main media – printmaking and painting, quite coincidentally presents a diploid crossover with the track of zeitgeist.

Speaking about the traits in Tan Ping’s art, the curator Wu Hung comments that “30 years of artistic experimentation by Tan Ping along, a path filled with deepening interplay of line and color, form and melody, action and cogitation, gradual accumulation and sudden enlightenment. Along this path, an uninterrupted ‘duet’ between oil paintings and woodcut prints has exerted a crucial role.” The sets of work spresented on this show intertwine and juxtapose the two media which he alternates between. Through observing this sustained and in-depth dual engagement, we will be able to track the vivid personality and distinctive logic in Tan Ping’s quest.

Tan Ping +40m Woodcut 20 × 4000 cm 2012

The most prominent yet succinct work in the exhibition may be the woodcut printing +40m. Taking a simple, almost primitive approach to woodcut, the artist executed the piece at a stretch: he carved a single line with a round-tipped chisel, which took him six hours of intent effort. The moment when the chisel touched the boards, it was like a scalpel cutting into elastic skin. He moved the chisel slowly and unremittingly, treating the chisel as an ink brush and immersing himself in this special “moment”. In the straight gallery passageway, viewers will go along with the artist, in mind and body, from this end to the distant other end. They will feel the “presence” of life in this special setting.

The other works that speak more about his latest conceptual development is the “on-site paintings” in Gallery II. Since 2014, Tan Ping has geared more towards the merge of space, time, action and presence in exhibitions, thus “on-site painting” became increasingly important for him. The artist brought unfinished pieces from his studio, which he installed at particular spots, choreographing the scene with the artist’s own body movements, then letting the lines and color blocks from the paintings proliferate onto the surrounding wall-space. The painted surface and the white wall were knit together and made to interpenetrate. Spatial proportions were considered, but also allowing for the deliberate offset of plans. The effacement of margins becomes a core issue in the artist’s formal and conceptual explorations.

Exhibition view "CHI CHU-Follow My Line-Tan Ping Solo Exhibition"
PIFO Gallery, Beijing, China; 2014

The exhibition concludes with a video based on Tan Ping’s work CHI CHU from 2014 to 2015, a series of charcoal drawings done by Tan Ping at odd times during work fragmentary intervals. He made a point of finishing each drawing within two minutes. These works recorded moments of subtle changes in the artist’s mind. There is no predetermined orientation: the line extends freely, and the brush roams until it encounters with the inner being of the artist. Such a procedure is latent with a degree of indeterminacy that can spark limitless vitality and creativity on the part of the artist.

About the exhibition

Dates: June 15 - September 22, 2019

Venue: Yuz Museum

Courtesy of the artist and Yuz Museum, for further information please visit www.yuzmshanghai.org.