Zheng Yunhan, Piano (2020-2021). Acrylic, canvas, cement, wooden board, acrylic acid, varnish, hardener, 128 × 160 cm. Courtesy A Thousand Plateaus Art Space, Chengdu.
'Those who are outside want to get in, and those who are inside want to get out. The wishes of life are mostly like this.' (by Qian Zhongshu, Fortress Besieged)
This is an exhibition about people in adversity, which can be traced back in 2020, when Wuhan was locked down due to Covid-19, as Zheng Yunhan was stranded at home in the middle of his preparation for Chinese traditional festivals, with abnormal depression and helplessness. The mood of waiting for the lockdown to be lifted is as lazy as the body, and looks forward to a miracle. Wechat and phone greetings calls have gradually become indifferent to the needs of daily life.
I accidentally dialed his number, but he didn't talk much. But when he mentioned Wuhan, I felt that the negative energy and images transmitted in the Wechat Moments actually happened to my friend, and I began to realize that how depressed people can be.
A few days later, I advised him to start working to not waste time, he only agreed vaguely.
A few more days later, Zheng Yunhan said that he had some ideas for filming.
I told him to just do it and do not tell me.
Until I received his photography works.
'Persistence is not to pursue results, because that's the way life should be' - Zheng Yunhan 2020.03.27
'Floating through the sky of Wuhan' - Zheng Yunhan 2020.03.31
'A world in a flower, a rise and fall in a night' - Zheng Yunhan 2020.04.08
'Freedom outside the window' - Zheng Yunhan 2020.04.08
After a while, Wuhan lifted its lockdown. Zheng Yunhan sent several paintings, "Burglar Proof Door", "Old Iron Pot", "Maling Canned Pork Luncheon Meat" and "Piano". These works are on the canvas with specific spatial traces. These daily objects are created with cement and permanently sealed in space, are in the same plane space and scale defined by the same painting dimension.
Zheng Yunhan, Wardrobe, 2020–2021, Acrylic, canvas, cement, wooden board, acrylic acid, varnish, and hardener, 200 x 120 cm. Courtesy A Thousand Plateaus Art Space, Chengdu.
In August, 2020, he sent again some new painting works in process, which captured the moment when his memory was revived. The objects and spaces that accompanied him during lockdown became emotionally connected with him. These paintings are relatively flat, which is related to his long-term usage of three-dimensional software to deal with the internal space of the building. The stereoscopic and perspective relationship in painting is replaced by an instrumental and pictorial treatment approach by Zheng Yunhan. The expression of the light and shade is handled by scraping cement. The objects in the frame gradually restore their status, and there comes more daily objects: bed, chairs, thermos bottle, and wardrobe... Zheng Yunhan is exploring the relationship between painting and daily life, between memory and feeling, and between media and cognition, and finally returns to the space carried by individuals. Everything in the space has become the object of observation by the artist.
The result of long term coexistence is gazing of each other.
Two years just passed in a flash. Over the past two years, I have been concerned about the replacement of human beings by machines, the possible economic fracture in the future, and when people can get back together and come along again. But the most important thing, perhaps is to remember. In the times of Internet and information, as the world is so rich of information, everything may not exist. Firstly, people can often confused with the time. Last year's events may actually happened the year before last. Secondly, events flash to replace the crowds' attention. What happens in this month may cover all the past hits that ever happened. In the third year of the epidemic, looking back at Zheng Yunhan's creation, there was also some objectified peace and tranquility. His works integrated the tension of material, time and events, and there was a halo, which probably came from the sense of eternity through time. Hope to be with our shared memories and times.
At home / Away from home is a very common action that happens every day. In some special periods, and after some moments, it is prolonged into a helpless and anxious mood, and then develops the possibility of the impossible.
At home may not make a monastic life, and away from home may never cut the connections to your root.
Text by Li Zhenhua
About the exhibition
Dates: 18 June-31 July, 2022
Venue: A Thousand Plateaus Art Space
Courtesy A Thousand Plateaus Art Space.