Chambers Fine Art is pleased to announce the opening on December 13, 2014 of Ye Nan: Project 1984, Thirty Years Later, the artist’s third exhibition at the gallery. Born in Hangzhou in 1984, he graduated from the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou where he was a pupil of the prominent multi-media artist Qiu Zhijie.
In his first major body of work Phosphorous Red, he used phosphorous, the material used in match heads, in a suite of prints that incorporated imagery from a wide range of sources including space travel and colonization, nationalism, politics, the principles of chemistry and physics and rock music. In the suite of ambitious painting that followed, Like Moths to a Flame, he continued his exploration of phosphorous not only as a medium but as a metaphor with a wide range of applications.
Ye Nan’s new oil paintings in Project 1984, Thirty Years Later represent a major new development in his work. He has not abandoned his predilection for establishing relationships between objects of widely differing significance but for the first time he uses the medium of oil painting to unify them in ambiguous spatial settings. He refers to these irrational conglomerations of forms, both organic and geometrical, as “monuments relating to monuments” and “monuments that do not commemorate persons or events that exist in reality.”
Contrasting with the oil paintings is a new group of installations in which Ye Nan allows a diverse range of unmodified materials and recognizable objects to assume double identities, simultaneously items of daily use and participants in a free-ranging visual drama resulting from their improbable juxtaposition.
Born in 1984, the year that English novelist George Orwell chose as the title of his classic novel predicting a future totalitarian state, Ye Nan looks beyond appearances in order to create new realities. In paintings such as The Peak is Still There – Climber’s Paradise and Suspended Conclusion, and the ambitious The Climber in the Waterfall, the enigmatic thematic material of the paintings is further enriched by poetic titles that relate only indirectly to what we see.
In rejecting the use of unconventional materials and the performative aspect of his oeuvre in his paintings, Ye Nan has returned to the seamless surfaces favored by Surrealists such as Salvador Dali and René Magritte without embracing their oneiric interests. While he was studying under the influential multi-media artist Qiu Zhijie in Hangzhou, he did not focus on oil painting but has now reached a stage in his development when he is prepared to investigate how this tradition-laden medium might be used for unconventional purposes.