Peng Tao, Gao Lei
iRRi ART for Golden Eagle Contemporary Art Center, Nanjing, January 19th, 2013 – February 3rd, 2013.
„Dividing Structures“ is an independent art exhibition initiated by the artists Gao Lei and Peng Tao and curated and realized by iRRi ART. Gao Lei and Peng Tao are both artists from Nanjing, they both paint, but are both not restraint to this one material of expression. The “Dividing structures” exhibition combines the newest work series of both in one concept.
When entering the exhibition space the way of the visitor is blocked by a gray brick wall, the entrance is narrow. On the wall hangs a series of 12 square oil paintings, mostly gray in colors, titled “12 signs of zodiac”. Mixed in the thick oil color is construction material, sand, stone, dirt, wire. On the ground scattered, broken material, as if fallen off the wall or off the paintings. When looking over the wall the visitor sees the towering painting installation “Osborous”, depicting construction sites and factory grounds. The actual architecture depicted is taken from real existing industrial sites from different countries.
Every few minutes there is the sound of sirens emerging from the painting installation in Peng Tao’s space – very time the siren breaks in, the light changes. Once the visitor has passed the construction sites, she/he finds herself/himself facing either a dark painted room, or a bright lighted one.
Gao Leis room is painted black, the pictures are illuminated only by small spotlights, the real source of light is a light installation in the middle of the room in the form of a light column, which is reacting with the siren’s sound. Gao Lei takes the topics for his eight presented paintings from media pictures. The violence of the pictures is not only by its content but as well from its colors and size. Emotionally the visitor can feel in insecurity brought by ever growing cities and unnatural living conditions given by modern society.
As Peng Tao’s space is bright, so is Gao Lei’s dark. The dichotomy of light and darkness shows the two sides of the same medal:the outside surroundings and the inside effects on the people. Both artists are depicting the moment of the object taking control over the subject, the moment the philosopher Paul Virilio describes as the moment of catastrophe and collapse being the inherent consequence of faster growing development.
While in Peng Tao’s space the light is bright white, the colors of his paintings are shades of grey, you can feel the dust of construction sites in the air.The sound and light Installation is the symbol of cause and effect of inner and outer reality, acting as a bridge between the two spaces. In Gao Lei’s space you are blinded by the pulsing light and confronted with the violent consequence of development shaping society.
Material like sand and stone are subject and object to Peng Taos paintings. The series of smaller paintings in the entrance area constitute the abstract part of human life, the inscribed signs of zodiac point to the chaotic universe to which humans ever tried to give an order of things, a structure.
The naturalness of material and its transformation by mankind into housings or industrial buildings which shape our living reality is the subject of the 10 bigger paintings.
The contrast in content between the two painting series and at the same time the correspondence between the materials comes to conclusion: on the one hand the ancient system of the star signs, the need of humans to organize the world around them. On the other hand the modern architecture, being unnatural in dimensions and bearing the possibility of accident in itself, leading far away from naturalness. Peng Tao’s work is highly influenced by the French philosopher Paul Virlio.
While Peng Tao work is about the objects, the materials, the buildings and the surroundings we live in and which construct and structure our reality, Gao Lei is focusing on the effects of these unnatural surroundings on the people.
Gao Lei takes his topics from the everyday media being concerned with violence and fright. He reproduces the same brightness and colorfulness as media does to depict the glaring reality of violence. Through abstraction in his pictures he goes beyond the mere reproduction of these widely accepted pictures, he is illustrating the emotional consequences of boundaries and pressure imposed by social roles in today’s society.