YAN Heng: Absinthe: A2

25 October 2019 - 23 January 2020 Shanghai
Press release

Arario Gallery Shanghai is pleased to announce Chinese artist Yan Heng's third solo exhibition "Absinthe" at the gallery space in Shanghai, from October 25, 2019 to January 10, 2020.


The exhibition title "Absinthe" is derived from the artist's eponymous series of works. During his residency in Paris, France, he visited various art museums to see the masterpieces. Artists as Degas, Manet, Van Gogh and Picasso are all absinthe lovers. Degas and Picasso even have works titled Absinthe. The absinthe has also become an essential clue to connect these legendary figures. Yan Heng takes absinthe as an entry point, which is not only a salute to these artists but more of a reinterpretation.


The Absinthe series was first exhibited in 2017, in which the artist adopted figurative approach to represent subversive context with solid painting skills, which delivered a classical charm beyond time limit ; in the meantime, Yan Heng also continue his creative approach presented in his first solo show at Arario Gallery, i.e. the combination of painting and installation, to express his constant concern on social change, technological progress and their impacts on humanity, hence articulating the characteristics of our time. Originality, technology, nature and society have always been the theme of artist's continuous exploration. . In his 2016 solo exhibition "Frequency Modulation" at Arario Shanghai, Yan Heng established a dialogue between the originality of life and modern technology that created the tension and conflicts in between. The animal and human skulls commonly found in his artworks symbolize the natural cycle of life; while the installation elements that represented the modern technology such as computer mainboard, the blackboard written full of chemical formulas convey the manipulation by technology of the human in artist's eyes.


The artworks of Absinthe series in this exhibition will continue to present artist's exploration of the painting language and materials. One can also detect the traces of his residency life in Paris. As a center for art and culture, Paris has always been a hub where many art masters convened; yet after the terrorist attack in 2006, Paris showed nothing but decadence. Paris Metro, as a unique public venue, not only preserved Art Nouveau design that the artist has been very obsessed with, but also formed a special atmosphere gathering people from different races and cultural backgrounds. The visual elements of Yan Heng's work begin here, where the masterpieces of Rodin and Dali appeared in the painting together with installation, readymade and mixed media to showcase the absurd mixture of classical art, legends of art deco masters and European pattern etc.


Another series works exhibited in the exhibition titled "Poem Porn" was begun during the artist's residency in Australia in 2018. Living alone in the sparsely populated Lallal pasture, where the vastness of the land seemed to have put a pause on time. Yan Heng felt that only figurative approach were not enough to release what he felt at that moment, instead, he turned to purer materials for his creation, which seemed to be more efficient in this special environment. On this primeval Australian pasture, the fantasy and reality coexist. The completion of life cycles of the plants and animals is just a solemn ritual. To articulate this, the artist chose animal skulls, concrete, and gold-leaf as his materials to express the tremendous contrast between modern civilization and the primeval ecology, as well as the extreme impacts and perceptual acquisition. The artwork Poemporn· Kiko No. 1 is the most special piece for the use of oyster. Oysters possess its original biological appearance yet delivering an elegance of modern civilization. In the process from fishing, washing, cooking till its final procedure on a table in a fancy restaurant, the oysters have to stay fresh for its delicacy, and at the same time, often paired with good wines and table etiquette. While the artwork will go to an exquisite white-box space from a chaotic artist studio. The oysters and artworks are different in nature, yet conducting a similar ceremony. Poem Porn series conveys the notion of the coexistence of the wildness and elegance, which is just the artist's interpretation of contemporary art.

Installation Views