Ran Huang: An Experience Shaped by an Experience I Never Experienced at Simon Lee Gallery
For the next month Simon Lee Gallery in Mayfair is playing host to a solo exhibition of works by Ran Huang (b.1982 China). The show comprises of a diverse mixture of installation, video and painting bound by a “playful interest in the deconstruction of the notion and mechanisms of history, the sublimation of violence and the expression of creative anxiety”.
The paintings are whimsical depictions of Guinness World Record holders, loosely rendered in garish colours with the titles of their records painted across the images in childlike bubble-writing. Their figuration is awkward but the best of them possess a good amount of wall-power. Huang has titled them all as self-portraits as an act of misdirection – a point that is made lucid in his piece on the opposing wall titled Mute: a TriVision billboard that rotates to endlessly reveal the phrase “THEY THINK THIS IS HISTORY BECAUSE” on every facet.
The same deadpan humour is present in a white flag fixed to a metronome that forever waves surrender to an invisible foe. Similarly, a tool cart holds various absurd makeshift weapons with dubious functionality.
Downstairs we find a blacked-out cinema room that plays Huang’s latest short film The Administration of Glory. Contrary to what you might expect to watch in a gallery, the film is immersive and cinematically slick in its production, featuring five intertwined narratives that deal with distributions of power, violence and morality. Shot in the desert, the film recalls the work of French director Quentin Dupieux; the scenes are aesthetically beautiful and placid, while much of the action is disturbing and surreal. Featured actors wear ape masks and jumpsuits, with others are dressed like futuristic mobsters.
It is rare to see such a diverse range of mediums in a solo show and the work seems to have so many layers of meaning that it is hard to fully grasp all of the content in one visit or without doing some research on Huang’s practice. The decision to include paintings alongside the other work is perhaps questionable as it creates a jarring contrast that some might find inconsistent. For others this may be the most interesting aspect of the show.
Ran Huang: An Experience Shaped by an Experience I Never Experienced is at Simon Lee Gallery from 4th Sept to 5th Oct 2014, for further information visit here.
For further information about Ran Huang visit here.