Sandra Gering Inc is pleased to present Jennifer Wen Ma: Eight Views of Paradise Interrupted.
Jennifer Wen Ma creates delicate, ephemeral installations out of paper, ink, glass and light, fusing aspects of Chinese and European art history with a distinctly contemporary approach. For this exhibition, the artist presents an environment of new works borrowing from the Chinese literati landscape painting trope of Eight Views of Xiaoxiang. This homage meditates on the mental landscape that yielded the artist’s concept for the acclaimed installation opera Paradise Interrupted, exploring the utopian idea of ‘paradise’. Originally presented at the Lincoln Center Festival last summer, the opera was the artist’s directorial debut. It combined Ma’s innovative set designs with her co-written libretto and a contemporary composition in the traditional kunqu vocal singing style with western operatic voice.
Eight Views features some of Ma’s best-known iconography: her unconventional use of ink and her multifaceted use of the garden as metaphor. Her incorporation of time as material is also significant, whether expressed through performance, narrative, or the movement of light, air and liquid. Upon entering the low-lit exhibition, the viewer is enveloped by the show’s two signature works. A 43-foot long, scroll-like landscape painting on translucent acrylic is layered with shadows created from light projections across its surface. Composed of many individual panels that cover three walls, the paintings’ shimmering looking-glass surface is designed to flow together, offering a panoramic view and placing the viewer’s reflection within the landscape. The nuanced painting, as subtle and mystical as the traditional works it references, speaks of the artist’s contribution to both Eastern and Western artistic discourse. In the center of the room, a striking, large-scale black paper floor sculpture of a garden stands, tight and controlled in places and wild and unruly in others. Its accordion-like structure allows its form to adapt to a variety of settings. Based on her opera set design, the garden also references the live plants worldwide that the artist has painted with Chinese ink, thereby transforming them into three-dimensional Chinese landscape scrolls that change over time.
Eight Views of Paradise Interrupted brings these elements together in a formally beautiful, conceptually complex and historically rich installation.
Earlier pieces also on view include Brain Storm, 2009, the first of several videos using ink on glass as a medium, and the mirror-surfaced Dodo with 100 Meeps Walking in the Desert in Five Movements, 2011. Concurrently, the artist will be exhibiting a related project, Night Which Contains the Sea, at Van Doren Waxter, 23 East 73rd Street, NY.
Ma is also known for her extensive multimedia endeavors, from the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony to the permanent interactive artwork on the “Water Cube” in Beijing that reflects the resident’s daily emotions through abstract light, color and movement.
Jennifer Wen Ma has exhibited widely since 1993. In addition to Lincoln Center, solo projects, installations and exhibitions include the Cass Sculpture Foundation, Sussex, England, The Guggenheim Museum, NY, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, the Qatar Museums, Doha, Qatar, the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts, Taiwan, Performa 13, NY, the National Art Museum of China, Beijing, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., the Market Square Public Art Program, Pittsburgh, PA, the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC and the Echigo-Tsumari Triennial, Niigata, Japan, the Singapore Biennial and the Sydney Biennale, among others. Ma’s work on the opening & closing ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics earned the artist an Emmy in 2008. Jennifer Wen Ma lives in New York & Beijing.