Zhuang Hong Yi – RAW at Unit London
“We exist for U” is the slogan of the latest gallery to hit the headlines in London. The Unit debut their new street space in Soho with the fresh and vibrant work of Zhuang Hong Yi. Yi is an internationally celebrated painter who is excited to be showcasing his first RAW collection in the UK. His dynamic works are literally bursting from the seams, as impressionistic splatters of acrylic form a hybrid with twisted layers of rice paper petals.
The site is young and lively. A small band and a tray of cocktails welcome the crowd and inside an audience huddles and greets the space with inclusivity. Art scenes are known for their exclusivity but, here at this new contemporary outfit, the atmosphere feels textured, if not even a little passive in the wake of the exhibition.
Yi splits his time between the Netherlands and China, his European influences resonating against the more traditional Chinese practices. His work reflects a clash of cultures, a well-smeared fascination with the floral form and – perhaps a unique method in the age of modern art – a somewhat hackneyed era.
Beautiful Sacrifice is the most intriguing, a romanticised image of flesh and blood aided by changing shades of colour, nearly always a vivacious red, blue or green. Yi consistently reflects the seasons, nature and perhaps the toxins within our bodies. The work feels like an explosion from the inside out. However, few paintings appear as little more than snapshots of shrubbery landscapes; the craft communicated by the heightened sense of materiality resembles art popping off the page. A painting appropriately titled Storm looks as if chaos theory upturned the local skip onto a canvas and left it there to dry. Is it a vehement cohort of artistic expression, opulent or meaningless?
The drinks are topped well with vodka.This is a new wave of youthful curating in the city. Forerunners, those wearing the progressive artist label high, support a buoyant plea for expansion in the art world. It may be a gift for independence and talent, but contemporary art remains a sporadic field of entry for the mildly intrigued. While Yi’s art stands tall and proud, it may struggle to see light beyond the spotlight of the Unit’s narrow walls.
Zhuang Hong Yi – RAW was at The Unit London on 17th September 2015, for further information visit here.