Hive Center for Contemporary Art announces solo exhibitions featuring works by Xia Yu and Fang Yuan


Hive Center for Contemporary art is honored to announce Xia Yu's latest solo exhibition, "Here and Now," at gallery A and the debut solo exhibition of Fang Yuan (b.1996) in China, "Fang Yuan: Emptiness and Mirror," at galleries B and C will be held from July 10 to August 29, 2021. 

"Here and Now" is curated by Yu Fei. Presenting his most recent tempera works, it is Xia's fifth solo exhibition at Hive after "New Youth: Works by Xia Yu (2014)," "Xia Yu: Narrative (2015)," "Xia Yu: Orchard (2017)," and "Xia Yu: Subjunctive Mood (2019)."

夏禹 此时此地 Poster  Xia Yu II.jpg

Every nation, every land, and every human has to confront a different past and present. Xia Yu's formative years happen to have coincided with the social changes that have taken place since the 1980s. In the face of accelerated development that has yet fully reconciled cultural traditions and contemporary lifestyle, Xia expresses himself in the most realistic manner through his works. Unlike classical European paintings striving for realism and the most delicate details, the artist pursues a reality that is purposefully blurred, a kind of interval sight where poetry and frustration coexist. Consequently, he adopts an extraordinarily tender and gentle approach to real-life scenarios and scenes, humans and objects, bringing the peculiar, translucent texture of tempera technique into full play.

Xia Yu,  Electric Bicycle, Sunset and Dog, 2021,  Tempera on wood, 200×160cm.jpgXia Yu,  Electric Bicycle, Sunset and Dog, 2021, Tempera on wood, 200×160cm

Xia Yu never paint lives and sentiments beyond his personal experience. The characters in his work render a worldly quality since the very beginning of his practice, and gradually evolve with the pace of time. Like shifting from a warm photograph to a realistic film set, the size of his paintings expands along with the figures in them, ultimately to life-size. The love of parents, affection of siblings, intimacy of relationships, and sorrow of youths from reminiscences have gradually morphed into a catalog of present tense urban lifestyle during his recent years of practice. The vibrant and familiar quotidian scenes provide more than déjà-vu, whether it is a cozy scene of living alone with pets, a trip with friends or lovers, a moment of spacing out during commute, or the distress and exhaustion of encountering stressful tasks. In the paintings, all of the characters expect us to confront our other selves, the most mediocre majority who endure ordinary everyday life among great joy and utter disappointment.

Xia Yu, Sober, 2021, Tempera on wood, 200×160cm.JPGXia Yu, Sober, 2021, Tempera on wood, 200×160cm

Restrained emotions of the figures have been something Xia Yu always attempts to contour in his paintings. For him, moderation and introspection are national characteristics that cannot be easily obliterated. It has been proclaimed as the self-refinement of contemporary adults not to reveal or manifest their affections or anguish, especially since individuals assume their respective roles in society and relationships after separating from their families of origin. Therefore, the faces of the figures in Xia's work do not unveil any explicit expression but calmness and self-preservation. However, their sentiments are not undetectable, as their hands, functioning as the second profile of a person, are given more subtle and dynamic interpretations by the artist. Hands even serve as the principal role in Xia Yu's smaller-scaled works. The hands he has repeatedly painted for ten years have transcended the imagery motif of art history and become physical evidence of self-examination with introspection.

Xia Yu, The Moment I, 2021, Tempera on wood, 100×80cm.JPGXia Yu, The Moment I, 2021, Tempera on wood, 100×80cm

What Xia Yu portrays is merely a glance of contemporary urban life, not comprehensive but representational enough. The figures in his work are perpetually roaming between their residence and work, city and nature, and seamlessly shifting among chores and tasks, daydream and recreation, switching between various identities and roles in the interval of one living space after another. There seem to be diverse choices offered to the contemporary lifestyle, but it appears that it is no longer possible to own a place of refuge or a spiritual escape like ancient literati. Life has never been so vibrant and limited, common and exhausting. The new era urges every individual to be trained as a master of time management and become a philosopher of life under the framework of consumerism with the slogan of "Work hard, play hard." Xia Yu's paintings precisely expose the defects of a typical life, confronting the dull moments that continually appear, which can be lovely in their unpretentious truthfulness.

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 "Fang Yuan: Emptiness and Mirror" will focus on organizing and presenting the systematic practice of the artist's easel paintings. Fang Yuan graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a B.F.A. in Visual and Critical Studies in 2019 and has been pursuing her M.F.A in Fine Arts there since 2020. The artist was born in Shenzhen, China. She currently lives and works in New York City.

Fang Yuan, Double Images, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 60×50 cm.jpgFang Yuan, Double Images, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 60×50 cm

With her research-based experiences, Fang Yuan realized early on that in our established art historical narrative, there is often some opposition between the image and the form, while both of which contain and address visual elements. Fang, therefore, reserved from producing images in favor of more intuitive and perceptive abstract expressions, where the images often serve merely as an entry point to inspiration or are received by inspecting with a different method of comprehension after being painted. The reception is often reflected in the title of the work, which, like her paintings, is full of poetic sentiments of criticism.

Fang Yuan, Running Horse and Ivy,  2021, Acrylic on canvas, 176×166cm.jpgFang Yuan, Running Horse and Ivy,  2021, Acrylic on canvas, 176×166cm

Interdisciplinary cultural expositions and perceptions, like architecture and fashion, have always been crucial hidden forces and motivations for Fang Yuan's practice. Unlike figuration and narrative's introduction of various forms into paintings, Fang’s works are to highlight and intervene the medium as an object, which is a method or approach for painting to resort to itself or its subjectification. In this transformation, diverse cultural references are flattened into the same dimension for parallel treatment. Instead of symbolism, these references come from numerous evident and ambiguous visual discourses and rhetorics and, in turn, reveal painting itself, forming captivating intertextual poetics. For the artist, such practice is not a technique, form, or straightforward imagery transformation but an operation that requires profound thinking and mobilization of intense sensibility, cognition, and rationality. This is the reason she had adopted formal media elements such as brushstrokes, paint, color, and traces while avoiding images.

Fang Yuan, The Beast Portrait, 2021, Acrylic and India ink on canvas, 166×203cm.jpgFang Yuan, The Beast Portrait, 2021, Acrylic and India ink on canvas, 166×203cm

Like storming down the streets of New York while glimpsing all sorts of cultural phenomena of confrontation, conflict, and ideology, there is a sense of urgency and destruction in Fang Yuan's work. She manages to manipulate this high frequency of momentum in a way that wavers what we are familiar with and certain classic forms with modernist characteristics. We are accustomed to exercising dominance over all sorts of things; we are habituated to retaining the order and structure of every surface and plane, while this sense of imbalance and intensity reminds us that we are facing a painting rather than an image. Subsequently, the thread of modern art history brimmed with classical significance connects the artist's perpetual self-reference, self-consciousness, and self-parody, drawing our sensations and thoughts to the most quintessential production system of contemporary painting. In other words, the artist has been deliberately delving for a way to present painting as a fact to our eyes with exquisiteness and individuality.

About the artists

Xia Yu.jpg

Xia Yu

1981 Born in Feidong, Anhui Province

2004 Graduated from China Central Academy of Fine Arts, BA in Oil Painting

Currently lives and works in Beijing

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Fang Yuan (b.1996, Shenzhen, China) is a visual artist who lives and works in New York. She graduated from the Visual and Critical Studies Program at the School of Visual Arts (B.F.A.) with Rhodes Family Award for Outstanding Achievement among many other awards. Her works have been widely exhibited in the United States and China. She is currently a M.F.A. candidate at the School of Visual Arts who is expected to graduate in 2022.

Fang's practice began with a self-detachment from the external environment while maintaining a rebellious posture of exile. Throughout her upbringing, she has been constantly experiencing a lack of belonging and displacements projected by her surroundings. For her, change is a real and vivid physical experience. Her practice embodies the exploration of the concept of eternity, that is, to hunt for the illusion between the infinity and the so-called reality. She allows different levels of space to blend with each other, constructing impossible spaces stacked in parallel, gazing at how ambiguous shapes in three-dimensional space rendered on the plane, and the interweaving of the intangible but apparently existing and dependent relationships between each other.

About the exhibitions

夏禹 此时此地 Poster  Xia Yu III.jpgXia Yu: Here and Now

Artist: Xia Yu

Curator: Yu Fei

Opening: 2021.7.10

Exhibition Dates: 2021.7.10 - 2021.8.29

Venue: Hive Center for Contemporary Art

Address: E06, 798 Art District, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China

方媛_Fang Yuan Poster.jpegEmptiness and Mirror

Artist: Fang Yuan

Curator: Yang Jian

Opening: 2021.7.10 16:00

Exhibition Dates: 2021.7.10 - 2021.8.29

Venue: Hive Center for Contemporary Art

Address: E06, 798 Art District, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China

Courtesy of the artists and Hive Center for Contemporary Art.