CONTEMPORARY BY ANGELA LI is proud to present Deconstruction, an exhibition of three artists from around the world who play with the use of different materials, achieving fascinating results in the finished artwork. Each of these artists painstakingly spends hours to create their artwork using carving knives, drills or their bare hands. The results are stunning visual effects with different social and political meanings or reflections of these artists’ current states of mind.
There is a term in archaeology, known as anastylosis, defined as: the archaeological reassembly of ruined monuments from fallen or decayed fragments, incorporating new materials when necessary. This is akin to a description of how Jeremy Dean sees his works, except that he often follows this process in reverse. He takes monuments or symbols and breaks them down into fragments, incorporates some new material and then puts them back together as objects that he feels confronts issues critical to contemporary society. As an artist, Dean very much believes in the necessity of art as a way to understand the world.
Like an archaeologist these works are carefully researched with elements excavated from disparate places in geography, time and memory, then reinterpreted and reassembled as highly crafted objects that carry an underlying sense of decay.
On show at the exhibition is the rendered flag series in which he takes apart the American and Chinese flags, string by string, completely disassembling them into two separate flags made only of vertical and horizontal strings respectively. The end of each string is thread through a needle, then placed over prints of polarizing imagery. He feels that the extreme polarization currently experienced by many first world countries - socially, economically and politically, is literally rendering the fabric of our society, and these works are therefore physical representations of these conditions.
For Dean, these vertical and horizontal strings, once separated, become paradigms for viewing the world; that once polarized as opposite can never again fully integrate.
Georgia Russell's mixed media installations are based on the sculpting of paper works.
By cutting, slashing and dissecting printed matter, the artist appropriates the object and incorporates it within herself. She deprives it of its original shape and content in order to offer a new interpretation, which then translates into sensual and surprising sculptures. Books, music scores, prints, newspapers, landscapes
and photographs are re-invented with wild cutting, or with discreet play on the subject or title of her printed matter.
Russell’s current series of work began during an artist's residency in Paris while she was still a student at London’s Royal College of Art. She says that she has always chosen something which “holds within it a sense of its own personal history, an object which has a secret life”, and wants to give them “a new life and new meaning”. A sense of loss and preservation is a constant feature in each construction, as she wants to retain the past as much as her techniques alter it.
Shi Jindian’s works are based on destruction and reconstruction of real objects. Some are based on industrial products with particular significance in social, political and cultural life, as well as symbols of our times. The transformation of this kind of strong symbolic objects from materiality to unfamiliarity eventually generates an unexpected sense of fascination. This time-consuming and calm, meditation-like creative process and the manpower involved are the artist’s total objection to the industrial products destructed. To him, all the initiatives might merely be ignited by the desire to a change in traditional artistic language of sculptures, but in terms of the cultural aspect, it is an effective means to execute the analysis of cultural symbols. In his new works, Shi has explored another variation of his theme. Rather than winding the objects with his hands, he deconstructs the actual objects using drills, achieving a similar effect of sculptural objects which have the form but without the weight, big-sized installations which the viewer can see through without the heaviness.