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Narratives of the East
by Mulan Gallery
Location: Mulan Gallery
Artist(s): Zheng Yukui and Song Xiaoling
Date: 9 Oct - 31 Oct 2010

Two emerging award-winning Chinese ceramic artists, Zheng Yukui and Song Xiaoling, are showing their latest creations for the first time in Singapore as part of their solo – Narratives of the East < 东方情趣 >. Held at Mulan Gallery from 8 Oct – 9 Nov 2010, the exhibition will showcase a total of 20 original works by the couple. The collection comprises of several series, each inspired by the sights and sounds of both the living present and the imagined past. These works are part of a growing body of contemporary works that have gained increasing attention in the Chinese contemporary art market in recent years. 

Narratives of the East is the artists’ first overseas solo exhibition. For this show, the artists have continued past themes of play and nostalgia. Their characters, which consist of palace ladies from the Tang Dynasty and performers from the everyday opera stage, all form part of a larger narrative – a light-hearted attempt to re-tell familiar tales and to introduce new characters that have become part of the everyday rural and urban landscape within China. Shanghai Ladies for example illustrate how the women of Shanghai have themselves become an icon for the modern and the fashionable to a particular generation. 

In response to scenes of rapid industrialization and urbanization across China provinces which had drastically altered the landscape of the place, the artists’ persistent reflections of a rural ‘past’ untouched by the urban world, is both touching and refreshing. For the Children series, Zheng and Song have created down-to-earth representations, rendered in techniques of exaggeration typically adopted by caricaturists. The children run barefooted, their toes big and ugly; a child in muddy clothes grins widely back, revealing a missing tooth...and the tale continues.  

For this exhibition, the artists continued to develop their works using clay. The use of clay remains prevalent throughout the artists’ career and plays a significant role in shaping the artists’ aesthetic practice. The textual materiality and versatility of clay enables the artists to evoke a sense of rustic charm unique to their characters while capturing the quirky and the whimsical of each character-sculpture. To keep with the theme, Narratives of the East, the artists will continue their signature trait of ceramic modeling, unglazed with painted-on motifs in white only. 

Zheng and Song, a successful husband and wife team, graduated from the Shandong Academy of Light Industry and Fine Arts and are now based in Beijing; their creations were recently shown at the inaugural Exhibition of Pottery Collections at the National Art Museum of China entitled China Impetus – Chinese International Sculpture Exhibition 2009. They have exhibited regularly beginning in 1996 including at prestigious events across in Beijing and Macao, and have won numerous awards including Gold Prizes at the China Art Fair and Capital Art Fair in 2000.

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