“Metamorphosis”: Chinese new media artist Miao Xiaochun at Klein Sun Gallery – in pictures

Klein Sun Gallery in New York showcases Chinese new media artist Miao Xiaochun’s recent painting and animation series. 

Running until 8 October 2016, “Metamorphosis” is Miao Xiaochun’s first solo show at Klein Sun Gallery New York and demonstrates his continuing attempt to reform the language in paintings using digital media.

Miao Xiaochun, 'Blind Men and An Elephant (left)', 2016, acrylic on linen, 39 3/8 x 59 in (100 x 150 cm). Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery. © Miao Xiaochun

Miao Xiaochun, ‘Blind Men and an Elephant (left)’, 2016, acrylic on linen, 39 3/8 x 59 in (100 x 150 cm). Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery. © Miao Xiaochun.

Beijing-based artist Miao Xiaochun (b. 1964) is known for his integration of paintings and moving images and his use of 3D software methods that re-imagine classical masterpieces in new forms. Experimenting with various digital technologies, such as animations, 3D motions and video performance, Miao created his own technique of “algorithmic painting”, which involves gathering 3D models and images from the computer and hand-drawing them onto the canvas.

By juxtaposing two-dimensional and three-dimensional imagery within a single medium and challenging the boundaries between the real and the virtual, Miao forged a unique artistic approach that continually provokes established methods of art-making.

Miao Xiachun, "Metamorphosis", 2016, Klein Sun Gallery, New York. Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery.

Miao Xiachun, “Metamorphosis”, 8 September – 8 October 2016, installation view at Klein Sun Gallery, New York. Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery.

Miao Xiachun, "Metamorphosis", 8 September - 8 October 2016, installation view at Klein Sun Gallery, New York. Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery.

Miao Xiachun, “Metamorphosis”, 8 September – 8 October 2016, installation view at Klein Sun Gallery, New York. Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery.

Miao Xiachun, "Metamorphosis", 8 September - 8 October 2016, installation view at Klein Sun Gallery, New York. Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery.

Miao Xiachun, “Metamorphosis”, 8 September – 8 October 2016, installation view at Klein Sun Gallery, New York. Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery.

In “Metamorphosis”, the artist’s latest exhibition at Klein Sun Gallery in New York, viewers come to discover his recent paintings and animation series that highlight this approach. Displayed in a horizontal loop across the exhibition rooms, each painting seems to be a continuation of the previous work in terms of colour aesthetics, body motion, and overall narrative. The paintings can be considered as a whole project, an overarching sequence with 3D renderings of human figures engaged in various actions at the centre.

As some images show the characters wrestling and fighting, others suggest them undertaking collaborative activities and team-work. Overall, the notion of process is emphasised through the breakdown of their body movement frame by frame, as if time has been prolonged or slowed down. This can be seen in works such as A Man’s Daydreaming (2016), Absolute Drawing – Gene (2012) and Blind (2014).

Miao Xiaochun, 'A Man's Daydreaming', 2016, acrylic on linen, 39 3/8 x 39 3/8 in (100 x 100 cm). Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery. © Miao Xiaochun

Miao Xiaochun, ‘A Man’s Daydreaming’, 2016, acrylic on linen, 39 3/8 x 39 3/8 in (100 x 100 cm). Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery. © Miao Xiaochun.

Miao Xiaochun, 'Blind', 2015, acrylic on linen, 39 3/8 x 39 3/8 in (100 x 100 cm). Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery. © Miao Xiaochun

Miao Xiaochun, ‘Blind’, 2015, acrylic on linen, 39 3/8 x 39 3/8 in (100 x 100 cm). Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery. © Miao Xiaochun.

Since Miao began experimenting with 3D techniques in 2004, he has adopted the practice of subverting European painting narratives using virtual human figures. For instance, in Zero Degree Doubt (2013), the artist re-creates the classical scene of Doubting Thomas, which portrays a skeptical man trying to feel the wounds of Jesus in order to believe in his resurrection. Replacing the original characters with computer-generated figures, Miao re-imagined the renowned passage in the modern-day context using contemporary media, while undermining the figures’ basic differences and individual features.

By deconstructing the narrative in this manner, Miao’s work reveals an inner paradox in which the motion-driven, virtual bodies are frozen in time and space, within the confines of the two-dimensional painting. This realisation further challenges the perception of the viewer by inviting the latter to reflect on the impact of digital technologies on artistic and cultural production today.

Miao Xiaochun, 'Zero Degree Doubt', 2013, acrylic on linen, 78 x 3/4 x 783/4 in (200 x 200 cm). Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery. © Miao Xiaochun

Miao Xiaochun, ‘Zero Degree Doubt’, 2013, acrylic on linen, 78 x 3/4 x 783/4 in (200 x 200 cm). Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery. © Miao Xiaochun.

Miao Xiaochun, 'The Raft', 2013, acrylic on linen, 39 3/8 x 39 3/8 in (100 x 100 cm). Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery. © Miao Xiaochun

Miao Xiaochun, ‘The Raft’, 2013, acrylic on linen, 39 3/8 x 39 3/8 in (100 x 100 cm). Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery. © Miao Xiaochun.

Curator and scholar Wang Chunchen, who coined the term “algorithmic painting”, speaks of Miao’s series thus:

It can be considered as a new form of painting, which is a significant revolution of painting since the development of digital technology. In this form, it is not only regarding the liberation and breakthrough of painting’s self-composition, more important point is this form combines with human brain and computer calculation together, and achieves human-computer interaction and binding.

Running until 8 October 2016, the exhibition demonstrates Miao Xiaochun’s pursuit of the new style of painting as well as his continued investigation with 3D processes of image creation. With a selection of three animation films and nineteen paintings, the works on display “collectively present the transformation between motion image and works on paper”, while illustrating the artist’s engagement to “reform the language in paintings”.

Miao Xiaochun, 'Parnassus Blue', 2015, acrylic on linen, 59 x 78 3/4 in (150 x 200 cm). Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery. © Miao Xiaochun

Miao Xiaochun, ‘Parnassus Blue’, 2015, acrylic on linen, 59 x 78 3/4 in (150 x 200 cm). Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery. © Miao Xiaochun.

Miao Xiaochun, 'The Cross', 2013, acrylic on linen, 78 3/4 x 59 in (200 x 150 cm). Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery. © Miao Xiaochun

Miao Xiaochun, ‘The Cross’, 2013, acrylic on linen, 78 3/4 x 59 in (200 x 150 cm). Image courtesy Klein Sun Gallery. © Miao Xiaochun.

Born in Wuxi, China, Miao studied art history at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. In the 1990s, he left for Germany to undertake art training at the Kunsthochschule in Kassel, Germany, where he studied sculpture, ceramics and photography, in addition to painting. Initially working in photography and new media, Miao recently transitioned back to painting in order to explore the intersections of the classical medium with digital technologies. Speaking about these pursuits, Miao explains:

As I see it, digital technology has strong powers of calculation. While I am painting, I need to keep observing and calculating with my mind and my hands together, and then drawing the shapes, lines and colors. Of course this method is different from that of computers. Computers have both speed and calculation abilities which come with a certain set of hardware and software, and I harness these abilities in my painting.

Tianmo Zhang

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Related Topics: Chinese artistsnew mediavirtual artvideogallery showsevents in New York

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