LAKEWOOD, CO.- The Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar will present an exhibition of sculptural and installation works by Fang Lijun, one of the most influential artists working in China today. Opening at The Lab at Belmar on April 18, the presentation at The Lab at Belmar is the artists first solo museum exhibition in the United States , and the first exhibition focusing on his new sculpture and installation works. Known primarily for his large-scale paintings, woodblock prints, and small works on paper, Fang Lijun has recently begun to produce works in bronze, gold, resin, fiberglass, and cast iron. The exhibition Fang Lijun: Heads includes a large-scale installation and several other sculptural works as well as a related large-scale painting, all exploring issues of individuality in a post-Cultural Revolution China. The exhibition will be on view through August 26, 2007 at The Lab at Belmar in Lakewood , Colorado , five miles west of Denver . Organized by The Lab, the exhibition was curated by independent curator and writer Tom Whitten, a scholar on Chinese arts.
Fang Lijun: Heads brings together three of Fangs recent figurative installation works. Fangs work often portrays iconic shaven-headed figures that represent expectation and longing, alienation, boredom, anger, resignation, or struggle. These figures, which have appeared in Fangs work since the late 1980s, feature prominently in the works that will be on view at The Lab.
Fang Lijuns work represents the struggle of individuals to make sense of the world as their national and cultural identity changes, said Adam Lerner, founder and executive director of The Lab. There is a duality to his work: it can be made of a rich, beautiful material, such as the gold leaf-covered works that will be on view at The Lab, at the same time that it deals with very difficult and serious issues, such as democracy and individuality in contemporary China. We hope that this exhibition will encourage a dialogue among our visitors about the issues addressed in Fangs art, and we look forward to introducing the U.S. to this dynamic new direction in his work.
The largest work on view in Fang Lijun: Heads is a large-scale installation consisting of 15,000 sculpted heads, cast in bronze and covered in gold leaf, installed within a gallery space of about 430 square feet. As a representation of society, the massed gold heads take the realist approach of Fangs paintings to a more dynamic level by incorporating space and movement. Mounted on slender steel rods and installed in a grid-like formation at heights between twelve and fourteen inches, the diminutive heads sway with any change in air current, reinforcing the feeling of a unified throng of individuals.
In contrast to this work, a second, related piece features life-sized sculptures of the heads of important individuals involved in contemporary art, music, and film in China following the nations Cultural Revolution. Here Fangs trademark figures take on a new roleexisting not as generic members of the populace, but as hyper-realistic depictions of specific individuals recognized for their role in the reshaping of China s cultural identity.
A third work, much smaller in scale, yet equally significant in impact, is a grouping of small figures in bronze and gold leaf that will be installed in a corner of one of the galleries. Placed on the floor in the corner of the room, the gathering of figures is easy to overlook, their position suggesting the ease with which the individuals that form a society can be forgotten and displaced.
A large-scale oil painting, closely related to the sculptural works in the exhibition, is also on view. The paintingcomprised of 36 separate panels, each portraying the face of a well-known figure in the arts in China , a friend of the artist, or an unrecognizable individualreinforces themes that occur throughout Fangs oeuvre as well as the imagery of the other works on view.
The imagery in Fang Lijuns paintingsparticularly the powerful faces he createstranslates very well in sculptural form, said Tom Whitten, the exhibitions curator. Its been a pleasure to work with Fang Lijun to present this new direction in his art, and to bring it to The Lab at Belmar. The Labs commitment to creating the right kind of physical space for a work of art and the kind of environment that encourages discussion about the work of art makes it the ideal place for the U.S. debut of Fangs sculptural work.
Public programs planned in conjunction with the exhibition include a lecture by Fang Lijun at the Denver Art Museum , a gallery walk-through for Lab members with curator Tom Whitten, and a lecture on contemporary Chinese art. Fang Lijun: Heads coincides with a presentation of Fangs paintings at the Denver Art Museum in the exhibition Radar: Selections from the Collection of Kent and Vicki Logan.
Fang Lijun - Born in 1963 in Hebei province in China , Fang Lijun came of age in the years following the Cultural Revolution, during China s transition into a global economic power. He studied printmaking at China s prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing . Still a student when his work was included in the influential No U-turn exhibition at the China Art Gallery in Beijing in 1989, Fang is now one of the most well-known contemporary artists working in China, and is represented in major collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Pompidou Center in Paris, and San Franciscos Museum of Modern Art. His work has been exhibited widely internationally, including solo exhibitions at galleries and museums in Germany , The Netherl and s, France , and Japan . The exhibition at The Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar is Fangs first solo exhibition in a museum in the United States.