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by Pearl Lam Galleries
Location: Contrasts Gallery
Artist(s): BING Yi
Date: 22 Nov - 22 Dec 2009

SHANGHAI - Contrasts Gallery is pleased to present SKIN: BINGYI, the artist’s first solo exhibition in Shanghai.

A provocative painter, Bingyi is best known for her strange, exotic imagery exposing the most sensitive aspects of human relationships. SKIN best exemplifies the virtuoso nature of the artist’s oeuvre. The exhibition design includes seven site-specific installations of paintings and sculptures, which Bingyi terms “seven environments.” The spaces that she invokes range from classical salon to mortuary shrine; from cave to private bathroom.

To Bingyi, there are only two characters in the visual world that she has created: You and I. All of her experiments playing with the idea of “You and I” complicate our understanding of various relationships, between ourselves and the images, between man and woman, and between objects and images. Bingyi paints sadness, pain, sentiment and joy, as well as all emotions possibly reflected by human interaction. Yet she is not satisfied with just portraying emotions: she also raises several questions about the time and space that contain these experiences and emotions.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a Salon that displays over forty paintings of various styles. The theme of the salon is “How Do You Remember Your Body?” Bingyi carefully crafts images (content) and frames (presentation) from different eras and continents to present a critique of the temporal and spatial parameters that stabilize our mentality. For example, the painting entitled “Lady in White, My Whistler” appears to evoke a Whistler painting with the same title. However, close examination of the painting will reveal that the frame and painting are antiques, which Bingyi later painted over. And the audience will come to realize that the Whistler painting in reference does not actually exist. Like the formalism of the Salon itself, Bingyi commentates on a fantastic historic style and a visual world. Neither world exists in reality, but they somehow manage to develop a lingering impact on the psyche of our contemporary cultures.

Bingyi’s art is often confessional in terms of inspiration. The strength of her expression lies precisely in this directness of her approach. Bingyi’s titles, such as “I Sucked All the Blood Out of You, I Hurt Too” or “Looking at Me Through You," just like her images, are equally literal, graphic and comical. The conceptualism in Bingyi’s painting happens when she confronts the tensions and turmoil in her own life. For example, “The Men that I Loved,” is a crystal resin sculpture that contains personal belongings of a number of men that she loved. “The Square Footage of Your Skin” is a seemingly minimalist white painting, yet it is also the most straight-forward measurement of her touch. The liveliest piece is “The Volume of My Heart.” The sculptural installation is essentially an old bathtub containing the metal gallium in the volume of the artist’s heart. When the water inside the bathtub is heated to a certain temperature, the gallium melts; otherwise, it returns to solidity.

SKIN, to Bingyi, is not only a description, a noun, or a title. It is an organic experience that becomes marked by accidents, events, or interventions of other human beings. Painting, as a medium, allows her to make images that turn one’s physical being into mental reminiscence. The content of these paintings inevitably explores problems related to conflict, violence, intimacy and tension that permeate all human dynamics and personal experiences. Bingyi argues that the notion of sensuality can be both physical and ideological, as she perceives such notions as a direct expression of the various problems introduced by the debates of modernity.

Since Bingyi’s first solo show in 2007, she has exhibited worldwide at various museums, galleries and biennials. She has shown at the Caixa Forum in Madrid, Today Art Museum in Beijing, Max Protetch Gallery in New York, Erna Hecey Gallery in Belgium, The White Rabbit Collection in Sydney, the Chinese Architecture Biennial in Chongqing, and the Gwangju Biennial in Korea. Bingyi holds a Ph. D. degree from Yale University. She currently lives in Beijing and Buffalo, New York.

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