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Design

A Mirrored Ceiling and Gleaming Tile Floor Turn This Chinese Bookstore into an Immersive M.C. Escher-Style Illusion

May 4, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images via X+Living

X+Living is known for its deceptively designed Zhongshuge bookstores that mimic M.C. Escher woodcuts and trippy infinite spaces. The latest iteration is this dreamy location in Chengdu featuring bold archways, a reflective tile floor that makes the display tables appear like floating boats, and a mirror embedded in the ceiling to create a seemingly endless loop of stairways and shelving. Completed in 2020, Dujiangyan Zhongshuge has a cafe on the first floor, along with a children’s area occupied by a bamboo forest and pandas climbing the bookcases. In the rest of the two-story space, the uppermost shelves lining the winding walkways are covered in a decorative print, adding to the illusion of countless volumes and ensuring all 80,000 available titles are within a customer’s reach.

See more of the Zhongshuge locations, in addition to the Shanghai-based studio’s cinemas, family parks, and retail spaces, on its site.

 

 

 

 



Photography

Expansive Photographs by RK Frame the Unexpected Beauty of Everyday Life Throughout Asia

March 10, 2021

Grace Ebert

Guizhou, China. All images © RK, shared with permission

Traveling from his home in Tokyo to cities and small villages across Asia, Ryosuke Kosuge is adept at spotting the textures and patterns that occupy local life, whether through the rocky formations surrounding Heaven’s Gate Mountain in Zhangjiajie, an array of birdcages created by a woman in Guizhou, or the wires crisscrossing a market in Nanning. His arresting images approach everyday moments from a place of curiosity and display the beauty and wonder inherent in both natural and urban environments. The photographer, who works as RK, tells Colossal that he chooses destinations based on the specific mood he hopes to convey, although sometimes those decisions are spurred by a personal desire to experience local customs and cuisine.

RK is also behind this book-filled series shot inside Tokyo’s Kadokawa Culture Museum. You can follow his travels on Instagram.

 

Vietnam

Vietnam

Hong Kong

Nanning, China

Keelung, Taiwan

Japan

Heaven’s Gate Mountain, Zhangjiajie, China

Vietnam

 

 



Art

26 Contemporary Chinese Artists Explore Materiality in 'Allure of Matter'

February 13, 2020

Grace Ebert

Zhu Jinshi, “Wave of Materials” (2007), Xuan paper, cotton thread, bamboo, and stones. Installation view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, image © Museum Associates/LACMA

CHICAGO—Containing a massive paper wave, a tower of leftover fat, and a tiger-skin rug of 500,000 cigarettes, The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China encompasses 48 works from 26 contemporary Chinese artists in an exhibition on view now in Chicago. Focused on the materiality of seemingly every day objects, the exhibition prompted artists to explore how substances like tobacco, plastics, and Coca-Cola could be fashioned anew. “Taken together, the works introduce a broader framework for understanding global contemporary art, which I call ‘Material Art’ or caizhi yishu, where material—rather than image or style—is the paramount vehicle of aesthetic, political, and emotional expression,” said co-curator Wu Hung.

The Allure of Matter is an extension of a trend artists in China began in the 1980s as they experimented and “exploded fireworks into paintings, felted hair into gleaming flags, stretched pantyhose into monochromatic artworks, deconstructed old doors and windows to make sculptures, and even skillfully molded porcelain into gleaming black flames,” a statement about the exhibition says.

Today, artists involved in the project, like Ai Weiwei (previously), Hu Xiaoyuan, and Cai Guo-Qiang (previously), are engaging with that provocative tradition through their multi-media works that often fill entire rooms, like gu wenda‘s human hair structure that is suspended from the ceiling. “Their monumental works represent a multifaceted phenomenon that inspires us to ask big questions about our relationship to the everyday material world around us as well as the interrelationship between Chinese art and broader trends in contemporary art globally,” co-curator Orianna Cacchione said.

If you’re in Chicago, make sure to check out the exhibition at both the Smart Museum and Wrightwood 659 before it closes on May 3.

gu wenda, “united nations: american code” (2019), human and synthetic hair. Installation view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, image © Museum Associates/LACMA

Ai Weiwei, “Tables at Right Angles” (1998), Tables from the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Stockamp Tsai Collection, New York

Liu Jianhua, “Black Flame” (2017), 8,000 flame-shaped black porcelain pieces. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Pace Gallery. Installation view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, image © Museum Associates/LACMA

Gu Dexin, “Untitled” (1989), melted and adjoined plastic. Installation view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, image © Museum Associates/LACMA

Song Dong, “Water Records” (2010), four-channel video projection. “Traceless Stele” (2016), metal stele, water, brushes, and heating device. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Pace Gallery. Installation view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, image © Museum Associates/LACMA

Shi Hui, “Float” (2000/2007/2013), wire mesh and xuan paper pulp. Installation view at China Academy of Art, Hangzhou

Ma Qiusha, “Wonderland: Black Square” (2016), cement, nylon stocking, plywood, resin, iron

Xu Bing, “1st Class” (2011), 500,000 “1st Class” brand cigarettes, spray adhesive, and carpet. Installation view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, image © Museum Associates/LACMA

Xu Bing, “1st Class” (2011), 500,000 “1st Class” brand cigarettes, spray adhesive, and carpet. Installation view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, image © Museum Associates/LACMA

Liang Shaoji, “Chains: The Unbearable Lightness of Being” of Nature Series No.79 (2002–7), polyurethane, colophony, iron powder, silk, and cocoons. Installation view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, image © Museum Associates/LACMA

 

 



Animation

SISTER: An Intimate Stop-Motion Short About a Family During China's One-Child Policy

November 25, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Animator Siqi Song explores the deeply personal implications of China’s One Child Policy in her powerful animated short, SISTER. The film uses felt stop-motion animation to tell the story of a family that conceived two children during the years—1979 to 2015—that the Chinese government controlled the number of children families could raise. An adult man, the film’s protagonist, looks back on his youth and the complicated family dynamics among siblings and parents.

“Growing up with my brother has been a privilege and a bittersweet experience for me,” Song explains. She shares that, being an exception to the rule, she has been the subject of many questions from friends about the experience of growing up with a sibling. “I also want to tell the stories of my friends, who would’ve had a different life if their siblings were born,” says Song. “This film is dedicated to this group memory.”

The Los Angeles-based director and animator has worked on several of her own highly lauded shorts, as well as on the feature film Missing Link. Watch more of Song’s films on her website (where she also shares behind-the-scenes shots), and follow along with new projects on Instagram. (via Short of the Week)

 

 



Art

Impasto Oil Paintings by Li Songsong Explore Historical Events as Cultural Artifacts

November 1, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

“Civil Rather than Military” (2018), oil on canvas, 82-11/16 × 102-3/8 inches © Li Songsong, courtesy Pace Gallery

Li Songsong uses dramatic textural repetition to create portraiture and landscapes in his large-scale oil paintings. The Chinese artist often centers visual narratives around historical events of the 20th century, working from found photographs and news images. In some instances, the story becomes more personal, as in “Civil Rather Than Military”, which depicts Songsong’s grandfather. In a statement about the work provided by Pace Gallery, Songsong shared:

I started this painting a month after my grandfather passed away. It’s from a photograph of him that I think was taken in the early1960s, when he was about my current age. I know what kind of person he was, but not until this year was I really willing to think deeply about him. I used a technique in which it is nearly impossible to paint delicate details, but in the end, the work still ended up with lots of expressive detail and an almost idealized quality, as if from a fairy-tale.

In both his intimate and anonymous paintings, Songsong balances content with process, employing tactile techniques that obscure the subject and emphasize the painting as an object or artifact in and of itself. Take a closer look at Songsong’s work in his solo show “One of My Ancestors”, on view through December 21, 2019 at Pace Gallery in New York City. You can also explore more of the artist’s work on the gallery’s website.

“Civil Rather than Military” detail

“Tempest” (2019), oil on canvas, 10′ 2 1/16 × 12′ 5 5/8 inches © Li Songsong, courtesy Pace Gallery

“South” (2017), oil on canvas, 10′ 9-15/16 x 8’ 6-3/8 inches © Li Songsong, courtesy Pace Gallery

Pace Gallery installation view

“My Homeland” (2004), oil on canvas, 82-2/3 x 165-1/3 inches © Li Songsong

“Taoyuan Airport” (2008) © Li Songsong

“Dog Walking (II)” (2015), oil on aluminum panel, 94-1/2 × 13′ 1-1/2 × 4-15/16 inches © Li Songsong, courtesy Pace Gallery

 

 



Design

A Dyed Wool Cloak Made From Scratch in the Chinese Countryside by Li Ziqi

August 21, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Li Ziqi (previously) presents pastoral glimpses into daily life on her farm in the countryside of China through her Youtube channel. She records common projects and necessities with precision and care, often focusing on the tasks needed to created a multi-course traditional meal or demonstrating the ways she prepares for the region’s harsh winters. In a video from earlier this year, Li walks her audience through the steps of knitting and dying a floor-length purple cloak with wool sourced from a neighboring farm. The five-minute film follows her journey across the snow-strewn mountains, watches as she inspects and brushes out the gathered wool, and features cameos by a few puppies and a very tiny lamb. You can view more snippets from her life on Facebook and Youtube. (via swissmiss)