Beijing Center for the Arts, the new multi-story gallery space at the Legation Quarters, has extensive room for installations and large scale art pieces given the tall pillars and beams that frame its central open space. The gallery’s debut exhibition, Beyond Reminiscencea features artists’ works that bring together the antitheses of traditional and contemporary art and culture, presenting a space to consider and reconcile the two.
The theme of modern and cultural identity resonates through the collective Chinese works. Zhou Chun Ya’s “Green Dog” series evokes German neo-expressionism while creating subtle social commentary on China’s history. Gu Wenda’s “The United Nations” displays hair collected from various people of different races and nationalities, exploring the concept and boundaries of personal and social identity. Shen Shaomin takes a different look at nature, confronting the complexities of contemporary society with Bonsai trees tied down by iron tools. Ye Yongqing demonstrates the delicate strokes of Chinese paintings in his “Bird” series, which use acrylic paint and techniques not common in traditional Chinese art.
However, it is internationally exhibited artist, Shi Jinsong’s “Guest-greeting Pine” that steals the show with its ethereal presence; a mix medium of different trees, branches and roots attached together by stainless steel screws. Best known for his stainless steel razor sculptures and works that portray the insidious forces of globalization in Chinese culture, the “Guest-greeting Pine” is no different. A symbol that is ubiquitous in Chinese scenery paintings, this tree is transplanted out of context into the centre of the exhibition space, a focal point that engages as it evokes a sense of alter reality with its artificial, yet natural roots and branches.