© ShangART Singapore

From 3rd May to 14th July ShangART Singapore Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition by their artist-in-residence Tang Maohong. The Gallery takes inspiration from Paul Gaugain’s famous and controversial residency in Tahiti and titles Tang Maohong’s exhibition Noa Noa just like Gaugain’s Tahitian Journal. The French artist’s long-lasting influence can be glimpsed from travels and practices of Nanyang style practices. The tropical island of Bali stood in as their Tahiti as they projected onto it their fantasies of an exotic realm.

© ShangART Singapore

This is a tremendously relevant fusion between the 19th century French painter and the Chinese Tang Maohong, perfectly combining plenty of subtleties that connect these two artists’ lives and works.

Noa Noa: The Tahitian Journal brings forward an important principle in the practice of art: a work is ultimately the product of stimulations from the artist’s environment. This way, the limited duration of a residency forces the artist to treat his journey as a catalyst. The foreign land becomes some sort of incubator for pre-existing ideas.

ShanghART Singapore

Paul Gaugain‘s travalogue reflects his initial impression of Southeast Asia as a place of lush greenery and azure skies, with big clouds, and strong shadows and contrasting, yet harmonious landscapes. Tang Maohong‘s residency projects consciously avoid overtly cultural-specific visuals and romantic ideals. He focuses on the reality of identity in relation to larger political entities, such as countries.

As human migration becomes more and more prevalent and most parts of Southeast Asia have colonial histories, Tang addresses the complication of self-identity and of the concept of country.

Tang borrows the question-title of Gaugain’s painting (1897-1898) : Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?

ShanghART Singapore


D’où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous

Paul Gaugain

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
CATEGORISING HUMANS IS A CHORE 2019
© Tang Maohong Courtesy of ShanghART Singapore

This concern is best communicated by the centre piece Categorising Humans is a Chore. It depicts state crests, flags and maps of 198 countries in a series of looping graphics. The state crests are imagined in hourglasses: tipping endlessly and losing their forms in the process. The flags are arranged in an upward angle as they are usually seen, flashing and interchanging in a geometric formation. The maps are portrayed as oscillating flat pieces, warping and stretching as they approach either side of the screen. The movements in the videos are repetitive and recurring in nature, resulting in seamless loop.

To Tang, repetition is a mesmerising tempo. The hint of tediousness introduced to the work undermines the solemn nature of the state symbols whilst encouraging viewers to contemplate on the topic in a mood of lethargy.

ShanghART Singapore

Fruit on the Beach 1 2019
© Tang Maohong Courtesy of ShanghART Singapore
CATEGORISING HUMANS IS A CHORE 2019
© Tang Maohong Courtesy of ShanghART Singapore

Interview with the artist Tang Maohong

Roxana Florina Popa: Versatile art, imagination, intellect and visual skill is presented in your solo exhibition Noa Noa organised in collaboration with ShanghaiART Singapore : painting, drawing and tryptic projected illustration.

The art pieces Categorising Human is a Chore make me understand once again that Asian art has a socio-political message most of the time. Do aesthetics have a place near exoticism and messages to the world?

在你的展览中,体现了不同的媒介,想象,想法,和视觉技巧。《给人们分类是件很麻烦的事情》让我理解到了亚洲艺术通常都附有社会和政治性质的信息。你觉得在异国情调和对世界的信息里有美感的存在吗?

CATEGORISING HUMANS IS A CHORE 2019
© Tang Maohong Courtesy of ShanghART Singapore

Tang Maohong: Art-making is inevitably political. In fact, it can be argued that attempts to avoid political elements would place further emphasis on them.

Aesthetics is a process, as well as a means, under specific circumstances. Exoticism is a presumption of certain populations, irrelevant to reality.

艺术创作不可避免的带有政治属性,事实上在创作中这是逃离不了的,或者说越是想剔除政治因素却往往会更把它强调出来了,就像马蒂斯的“摇椅上的艺术”。

美感是途径,也是手段,在具体的情景里,异国情调是对特定人群的预设,无关真实。

NOA NOA EXHIBITION TANG MAOHONG SHANGHART SINGAPORE
© Tang Maohong Courtesy of ShanghART Singapore

Roxana Florina Popa: Looking at your unprecedented pictorial subjects with a well-defined and unique character that takes the stage in your works:

A thrown sinking heart pulsating and rising above water, state crests in hourglasses, moon drops, a discobolus handling a mushroom

Solid, Liquid, Gas and Flash 2019
© Tang Maohong Courtesy of ShanghART Singapore

How do you build your subjects and how do you make sense of the eclectic flowing images in your psyche? What is the purpose of your ultimate expression?

你的作品中的焦点出现了前所未有而独特,明确的图示 – 例如一颗沉下的心脏跳动着地浮出水面,沙漏里地国徽,月亮葡萄,掷铁饼者舞动蘑菇 – 请问你是怎么构想出你的主题,又是怎么去以你本身地想法去理解这些不拘一格地形象?你最终所想要表达的目的又是什么?


NIGHT WAVE 2019
© Tang Maohong Courtesy of ShanghART Singapore

Tang Maohong: The individual imagery in each painting does not matter as much as the overall presentation. Whether they express my doubts and uncertainties accurately ——this is an exhibition about questions.

The themes of the works have always been about people and circumstance.


ENTANGLEMENTS OF EXOTICISM 5 2019
© Tang Maohong Courtesy of ShanghART Singapore

Ultimately, the reason to make art is to live life with beauty.

作品里的具体的单个图像并不重要,组合后的呈现是否和我的疑惑吻合才是重要的——这是一个关于问题的展览。

作品的主题一直都是关于人的境遇,而创作的目的,归根到底是为了更美好的消耗生命吧。

Roxana Florina Popa: Yellow comes forth in Gaugain’s Tahitian paintings. Yellow is predominant in your exhibited paintings and it is different from Gaugain’s yellow.

Why do you think Paul Gaugain was attracted by yellow?

Is durian the Fruit on the Beach and what else has this yellow hue in Asia?

What is its role in the set-up of your works’ artistic reality?

高更在大溪地的画里呈现了鲜明的黄色;黄色在你的画里也占了主导的位置,但和高更的有所不同。

你觉得高更是为什么那么被黄色吸引?

《沙滩上的水果》里的“水果”是榴莲吗?在亚洲还有什么是有着这个黄颜色的?在你的艺术创作历程又起了什么样的角色?

FRUIT ON THE BEACH 2 2019
© Tang Maohong Courtesy of ShanghART Singapore

Tang Maohong: Gauguin’s paintings in Tahiti used more saturated colours than those of his impressionist precursors, not just in terms of yellow. I cannot know his motive for sure. Perhaps, it is the eventual result of the evolution of impressionistic language: the flattening of planes and colour, the diminishing importance of spatiality, while saturated colours reflect the hot tropical climate of Tahiti.

Fruit on the Beach is not a naturalistic representation. The evocative title frames the subject matter as a vignette of my travels; a fragment of the traveller’s journey.

高更在大溪地的画比他的印象主义前辈们使用了纯度更高的色彩,不仅仅是黄色。我无法去揣测他的动机,我想这是印象主义的语言继续向前推进的必然结果:画面更强调平面,空间感的营造不再重要,而高纯度的色彩也对应了大溪地炎热的气候特征。

《沙滩上的水果》的画面并不是写实的,取了一个陈述性的标题是为了强调这是游历中的一个片段,一个旅行者的只言片语。

Roxana Florina Popa: Which stimulations of the residency country influenced the works in your current exhibitions? Which were the challenges of making them compatible with the pre-existing ideas? In what moments did you go back to Gaugain’s travelogue for guidance during your residency?

在你驻留的国家里的环境出现了什么样的元素,激发了你展览里作品的创作?在把这些元素和之前的积累协调上有碰到什么困难吗?在驻留期间有没有哪些时刻使你返回到高更的笔记寻求方向?

Tang Maohong: When going between countries, it is the customs that leaves the deepest impression. The aesthetic sensibility of the customs section and performance of the officer are the most reliable representation of the country’s political propaganda and mottos.

This translation is very similar to the creative process: when fanciful plans and ideas meet the practicality of reality, the concept of the work takes its form no longer changeable.

ENTANGLEMENTS OF EXOTICISM 2019
© Tang Maohong Courtesy of ShanghART Singapore

As for Gauguin’s journal, I have not read it since I was seventeen. If I am to read it again, perhaps I will situate the text within the colonial history of France to contemplate how a middle-class french painter living in poverty managed to become a famous artist in a colonial territory.

在国与国之间穿梭时印象最深的就是各国机场出入境的海关,海关的设计和公务员的表现是这个国家的所有宣传和口号沉淀下来的最可信的那一部分,这和作品创作很相似,当最初各种各样的花里胡哨的关于作品的计划遭遇到具体的现实时,作品的构想也就尘埃落定了,不可更改。

关于高更的笔记,我十七岁以后再也没有看过了。如果再次阅读的话,我可能会把这个文本放在法国的殖民历史中来思考一个落魄的中产阶级为何会在海外殖民地成就为伟大的艺术家。

THE BIG SURF 2019
© Tang Maohong Courtesy of ShanghART Singapore

Roxana Florina Popa: Which are your revelations on the concepts of “country” and “self-identity” that your artistic residency helped you see starting from Gaugain’s questions Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? Does inspiration have a country and where does it take us?

透过高更作品的问题《我们从何处来?我们是谁?我们向何处去?》,驻留时的经历对于你对“国家”和“身份”的概念有了什么样的启发?灵感有不同国家的区别吗?这又把我们带往何处?

Tang Maohong: Regarding “country” and “identity”, different circumstances will generate different responses.

The question becomes more pressing when one leaves his country. This is why this theme is only realised in Singapore instead of Beijing or Shanghai.

As for inspiration, I believe more in consistent accumulation. Depending on inspiration is lazy and passive.

关于“国家”和“身份”,在不同的情景下会激发不同的回响,当离开自己的国家的时候这个问题的思考就变得更加的迫切,这也是为什么我在新加坡的个展会涉及这个概念而不是在北京或者上海。而谈到灵感,我更相信平日里的积累,依赖灵感是懒惰而消极的。

CATEGORISING HUMANS IS A CHORE 2019
© Tang Maohong Courtesy of ShanghART Singapore

Roxana Florina Popa: Given the variety of media and arts you are presenting in your solo exhibition, are multiple artistic directions a reality of the nowadays’ artist? What is your advice for multi-talented artists working with various art media? What are the added value and impact of a multimedia art expression?

鉴于你在个展中呈现不同媒介的作品,你觉得多方面的艺术发展是现在艺术家创作的一个趋势吗?对于不同媒介和创作形态的艺术家你有没有什么建议?你认为多媒体艺术形式有什么样更加一层的意义或者影响吗?

Tang Maohong: With the advancement and replacement through technology, creators take what they need. Mixed-media and new media works will become more and more diverse.

随着技术的发展和更新,创作者各取所需,不同的作品媒介和作品形态会越来越多元化。

Special thanks go to the artist Tang Maohong and

Goh Chun Aik, ShangART Gallery Assistant

About the Artist

Tang Maohong (born 1975, Guangxi province, China) graduated from China National Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou and divides his time between Beijing and Seoul. He simultaneously references and undermines art history and popular culture. He has integrated a variety of visual elements and subject matters, producing works that inhabit the ever-blurred borer between elegant art and popular illustration. His work is absurd, magical, humorous and confrontational, hinting that the juxtaposition of figurative objects might be more just illusions. Tang Maohong’s pictorial universe reflects not only a new subject – a psyche whose internal eclectic imagination is echoed in the environment of constantly flowing images – but also the inversion of out-grown traditions.

Recent exhibitions

Tang Maohong, Riverbed, ShangART Beijing, China (2017); Video Art, Bhau Daji Lad Museum , Mumbai, India (2014); Video Bureau Archive 20: Tang Maohong, Video Bureau, Guangzhou, Beiing, China; Green Box – Remapping – The Space of Media Reality, Hangzhou, China (2013); Uninkable, TOP Contemporary Art Centre, Shanghai Centre, China (2012); Nomadic Report 2012, Arko Art Centre, Seoul, South Korea (2012).

About ShangART Singapore

ShangART Gallery was established in Shanghai in 1996. It has since grown one of China’s most influential art institutions and vital player in the development of contemporary art in China, representing over 40 pioneering and emerging artists, such as DING Yi, Melati Suryodarmo, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, XU ZHEN, Yang Fudonga and ZHENG Fanzhi.

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