Ye Hongxing: East of Eden at Scream
Splashes of bright, plastic colours dance on the canvases at Scream where Ye Hongxing exhibits her new series of work. Selected by international curators and directors, Hongxing is “one of China’s top 20 rising stars” and East of Eden is a celebratory show of not only her own generation of Chinese artists, but of a wider context of the growth of positivity and culture in East Asia.
Each piece of East of Eden is a mosaic of stickers; round-edged, colourful and depicting cartoon characters, they embody a very twee and child-like quality. A Hello Kitty sticker waltzes with an Angry Birds one and numerous other characters jumble densely across the canvas.
Hongxing creates printed outlines before painstakingly assembling the stickers into their assigned sections, much like painting by numbers. From a distance, the individuality of each sticker disappears, instead carrying colour for the overall picture. Although in practice her work is reminiscent of preschool play, this is a significant change of initial artistic environment for the classically-trained artist, who attended the prestigious Central Fine Art Academy in Beijing.
Unifying the lines of play and art production, subjects include flora, fauna and dinosaurs, religion, teen culture (represented by manga characters) and harder-edged depictions of cars and guns – although the guns drip water instead of bullets.
As if a comment on the character of the masses, the identifiable is transformed to function as a component in the complete works – but this is not to say that these small elements lose their uniqueness and importance. Upon closer inspection it becomes apparent that each sticker plays a vital role.
There are even stickers of motivational text, like those an infant receives for their homework, which furthers the artist’s works as positively persuading individualism and collectivism simultaneously. Since Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, the West has influenced Chinese society and culture, but the artist retains Chinese aesthetics through the Asia-sourced stickers whilst teaming them with the chaotic and lively addition of Western culture. Like Internet pages, East of Eden’s stickers are densely pixelated and a bombardment of information, but most essentially, they are an intensification of motivation in East Asia.
Ye Hongxing: East of Eden is at Scream until 7th December 2013. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.