Installation of my China Obscura installation at StARTup Art Fair, San Francisco
Office Windows of the Great Dicatator, Main room
Design: View into and out of Mao's office windows from his villa Meiling (Wuhan), a retreat he nicknamed "Home of the White Clouds and Yellow Cranes"
Mourning Chamber in the Forbidden City
Design: View into and out of the mourning chamber built for Concubine Zhen by her sister. Zhen was reputedly thrown into a well by eunuchs by orders of Dowager Empress Cixi
Original Cyanotype paintings line the walls. Installation materials covering the floor were printed in Beijing and later donated to Artspan and Root Division, arts charities in San Francisco, for mural painting dropcloths.
For this exhibition, I will transform a two room junior suite of the Hotel del Sol with an installation of my Cyanotype paintings from floor to ceiling. Why exhibit in a hotel rather than a more conventional art fair? This venue is an ideal location for me to explore the confrontations of art with space and perception, in 360 degrees. Though I was born in the Bay Area (Vallejo), this is my first time exhibiting in the region.
If you're in the Bay Area or at the Art MRKT San Francisco next door from 29th April-1st May, hope to see you there.
Several months ago, I decided to create a one year program to explore the art I was making, the art around me, and have the world's greatest contemporary artists as my teachers. For free.
This project takes three main forms:
* Research of contemporary artists and concepts relevant to my work, listening to artists' lectures and watching documentaries and interviews, reading articles and books, etc. One artist or concept per week.
* Exploration of the art in my city and others I visit: participation in exhibitions, attending events, meeting new practitioners, and curating exhibitions in a private gallery. One event per week.
* Creation of work informed by the research, breaking out of media and methods I've become comfortable with, and making maximum use of my Beijing studio. Production of one complete series of paintings, and two multimedia installation projects.
Soon, my documentation will be available here: ArtMFA.com
These are methods which may be applied to a DIY art education no matter where you live.
Image: The Great Dictator's Office Window, from the China Obscura Cyanotype painting series
My first solo exhibition in Beijing opens this Sunday, 27th September. It's a book and photo installation inspired by living in the…unique conditions…of China today. Conditions which have me looking at censorship in other places, particularly my home country, where 'freedom of information' has never really been free.
Opening is this Sunday at Meridian Space, a gallery/performance venue behind Beijing's National Museum. Stop by from September 27th-October 11th, get a close look at acupuncture models, and practice censoring great American literature like a real official. Kids welcome, but you may want to keep them away from the needles -
Windows are barriers, lattices, screens. They keep out enemies, the hot and cold, and they shut us in.
These Cyanotype murals are views of rooms in China where pivotal people stayed, slept, and worked to change the country's future. The window paintings are all diptychs: they portray the perspectives of those inside them, and those of us peering in from outside.
In Mandarin, the polite way to say '[western] foreigner' is "outside country person", which hints at the historic insulation of the country. Foreign perspectives of China – those from outside - are inherently incomplete. These dual views of the same window show how different the opposing sides appear of what is inherently the same structure.
Painting in progress: Office Window of the Great Dictator, from the Outside
Cyanotype chemicals are pale green when first painted, then darken as they dry, and turn blue in the sunlight.
Finished prints, Office Window of the Great Dictator
Visible are silhouettes of his calligraphy, which was surprisingly refined.
In Beijing, we have reliable sunlight only half the year. To make my blueprints, I need strong sunlight and no rain. In spring, the pressure is on to create work which I've designed over the winter.
Below: a video of Cyanotype printing on the rooftop of my studio, illustrating the process from fresh painting (the photochemicals are green) to quickly layering negatives before they are exposed to the sun and turn blue.