EYECANDIES x Kui Yuan Gallery Shanghai are pleased to present group show Red Timezone with recent worksby Nuria Rossell, Rosa Solano and Yang Shun. Inspired by the artistic collaboration of previous exhibition Blue Timezone at Kui Yuan Gallery Guangzhou in 2018, the artists are looking forward to engage the audience once again in a monographic visual experience that primarily deals with a single-color theme: red.
The curatorial purpose of an immersive viewing experience in red is to recognize the use of red (in fact of any one color) as a vital form of expression. Michel Pastoureau, a renown French scholar of medieval history and symbolism, once said, “a color never stands alone; it only derives its meaning, it only fully ‘functions’ from the social, artistic, or symbolic perspective…Hence, it is impossible to consider it in isolation.” Having that in mind, while the exhibited artists share creative interests in the color red, it is crucial to review each of their unique approaches in reflecting upon various subject matters of universal or contemporary significance, and to see how individual artist is utilizing the color red as both the source of inspiration and a creative element.
The color red has a strong connection with mankind. It was one of the first colors, along with black and white, used by our ancestors in the paleolithic time. Extensive findings of the making, usage, and trading of red pigments and dyestuff are evident in archaeological discoveries in many cultures, such as the prehistoric drawing of bison colored with red ochre in Cave of Altamira in Spain, the vermillion or “Chinese red” of cinnabar used for Chinese lacquerware, and the Aztec textiles in vivid crimson dyed with cochineal. For hundreds of years, commodities of red pigments and crafts have traveled across the globe by the ancient silk road, voyage of exploration, and other trade routes. Throughout history, the color red has established an unprecedented identity of aesthetic and social associations, and has transformed, with mankind’s powerful imagination, into some of the most incredible creations of civilization.
A very brief history of the color red given above is not to overemphasize its past glory, but to remind all of us participating in this artistic experience that, color is first and foremost a social and cultural phenomenon. Meanings are attached or projected onto one color by ongoing and changing circumstances of social, cultural, and historical context. These indications or expectations developed of one particular color have constructed a complex body of vocabularies and symbolism that artists of our time are accessing and working with.
This exhibition features three women artists who are currently living and working in Spain and maintaining close cultural or professional relationships with China. Nuria Rossell visits the mythological idea of “red threads” and often includes textiles and strand of red threads in her mixed media works . In The Thread that Unsew Me, she takes the cover of an old book to stage her collages: pieces of written texts referencing the presence of men and a cutout print of a heart accentuated with lingering delicate red threads. Yang Shun shares Rossell’s perception of the unspeakable ties connecting all things of micro and macro scales. Yang examines the ambiguous effects these ties have brought about. In Red Net series, she captures the dilemma of freedom and restriction, impartiality and bias fostered by powerful networks of our time. In Micro Garden series, she shows a romantic vision of the physical, biological, and psychological connections in our world. Rosa Solano addresses the crisis of war and refugee in one of her etchings Journeys and Dreams. She depicts a very worn-out red ship trembling at sea, while vague human figures afar in the background represent refugees who are torn between desperation of war traumas and unknown future of hope. Solano also presents several abstraction works showing her subconscious approach to form, colors, and composition in constructive manner.
It is no easy task to describe the concept of a single color, especially one carrying so much culture, history, and sensational power. The artists of this exhibition have done a wonderful job in finding a sophisticated balance of the aesthetic value of red in a cross-cultural setting. Their works have also identified some of the rational, perceptional, and creative aspects of the color red, which helps to further dialogues and new ideas of artistic expression and interpretation of the concept of red among the artists, curatorial, and viewers.
Patricia Tingchen Li, curator