"APEC Blue" is the name Beijingers gave the city's brilliant skies for a week in winter 2014. Ten thousand factories had been closed, and millions of cars banned before and during the APEC conference. The city shut down as world leaders – including President Obama – converged on China's capital. Roads were peaceful, the air was fresh, and we were chilled as coal-fired heating was turned off to ensure skies remained clear.
APEC Blue, Cyanotype painting on handmade paper, 14 x 20 inches (36x5cm), 2016
"APEC Blue" incorporates traditional Chinese Cracked Ice motifs.
Beneath a thin layer of gesso are printed texts in English and Chinese, from articles on Beijing's 'airpocalypse' incidents (when hazardous pollution rises to levels beyond index) and the Chinese government's threats to the US Embassy after they broadcast real pollution levels.
If you're in the Los Angeles area, you're welcome to view the artwork at bG Gallery's Spectrum Gestalt show. It opens tomorrow 18th June, 5-8pm.
I'll be present at "Reception 2", Saturday 2nd July from 4-7pm.
China Obscura installation Beijing, Cyanotype paintings "Mourning Chamber in the Forbidden City" digitally printed on vinyl, dimensions variable, June 2016
Just before leaving Beijing, I mounted this installation of prints of my paintings, the last while living in the city that has been home for 4+ years.
"Mourning Chamber in the Forbidden City" depicts the structure built in memory of Concubine Zhen by her sister, a place to meditate in remembrance. Zhen was reputedly thrown into a well by eunuchs on the orders of Dowager Empress Cixi. Inside the original cyanotype are maps of the legation quarter, to which foreigners were virtually confined and later attacked on Cixi's orders, and calligraphy by her as well.
Like most of the series, the original paintings are are pairs of perspectives, different views of the same structure seen in polarizing ways.
"Mourning Chamber in the Forbidden City", 144 x 200cm (56 x 78 in), Cyanotype painting on mulberry / bamboo paper, 2015
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, 2015
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
A friend and lighting designer helped set up the exhibition.
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 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 nearby from 29th April-1st May, hope to see you there.
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.
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.