The World Is Yours, as Well as Ours at White Cube
The new exhibition at White Cube Mason’s Yard looks at recent abstract painting by Chinese artists. With most of the works on show painted in the last two years, it offers a relatively rare insight into cutting-edge contemporary art coming out of China, by artists who are too often overlooked in London.
The displays provide a refreshing take on abstraction from outside the Western canon. In Europe and the US, abstract painting carries a huge art-historical weight that reaches back to some of the founding principles of 20th century modernism. In China, however, although it would be false to suggest that artists are unaware of Western art-historical traditions, abstraction arguably offers a freer mode of expression, since it has roots in a large range of influences.
Several of the works on show at White Cube demonstrate links with the art of Chinese calligraphy. Qin Yifeng, for example, paints “fields” of lines where brushstrokes simultaneously resemble both ploughed furrows and written characters.
Other artists look to more contemporary sources. Jiang Zhi’s large paintings (which gave their title to the exhibition) are meticulous freehand renderings of on-screen computer system errors. The resulting digitalised aesthetic is subtly undercut on closer inspection by rogue flecks of paint and textural imperfections.
Liu Wentao’s pencil drawings are mesmerising grids suggesting both solidity and emptiness. They draw on some of the central tenets of Taoist philosophy, whilst also pointing to an affinity with the minimalist work of Agnes Martin and Ellsworth Kelly.
Although the various artists’ approaches vary from the mathematical to the imprecise, and visual references range from computers to mountains, the curatorial team at White Cube have put together a highly cohesive show. Beautifully presented with enough space to do each work justice, this show is a fascinating insight into painting that pushes the parameters of abstraction.
The World Is Yours, as Well as Ours is at White Cube Mason’s Yard from 15th July to 17th September 2016, for further information visit here.