"Everything in the past died yesterday, and everything in the future is born today"
In this age of uncertainty, society’s systems and codes are being challenged and reconstructed, whether politically, socially, fiscally or religiously. Particularly given the events of the past year, the world as we know it is in a state of flux and reeling from the impact of a global pandemic. Ye Hongxing’s work jostles with the conflicted views of both celebrating and questioning human’s impact on the environment. Our symbiosis with the natural world, and appreciation and connection with it has now, more than ever, been brought to the fore.
During this moment of pause, there has been a collective re-evaluation of the appreciation of nature. A period of reflection and contemplation about what connects us all. It is this notion of utopia versus dystopia that is captured in these epic works. The artist's medium of choice – jewel-like children’s stickers – are obsessively adhered to the canvas, building up vast landscapes and patterns that capture the energy and frenetic pace of life that many communities across the world have become accustomed to. These dense collections of stickers mirror the pixels of our digital age, fragmented and fastidiously composed in a carefully conceived design. Each individual sticker becomes part of a greater whole, a fantastical representation of the world as we know it, and a reflection of one’s individual place in society. In her ‘Accumulation of Silence’ pieces we see an intense, repetitive design featuring intricate patterns, figurative elements and animals. These appear almost like a visual mantra, equally meditative and reverberant, echoing the process of making.
‘Eclosion’ is a sign of the trajectory where the artist believes we are headed – an emergence, a new beginning, a new dawn. Stripped back to an elegant monochrome composition, still composed with the intricate detail and energy of her signature stickers, there evolves a new life and creation, something fused between the natural and the modern world, another frontier. Certainly her brand new pieces from the ‘Coral Island’ series suggest a new energy, vibrant with streaks of vivid paint on canvas, with detailed highlights composed from the stickers, a dynamic syncopation of elements of nature, spiritual imagery, references to art history, iconic Chinese dragons, birds of paradise; these are more free-flowing and abstract in form than her earlier compositions. Although this is an artist who has frequently held the developing world to account, there is also joy and celebration of the complex world we occupy. However, the picture is fractured, pixelated, and creates an intense visual experience for the viewer, as the eye is drawn around the canvas with the multitude of scenes that Hongxing presents. These innocent, childhood accoutrements are manipulated by the artist to become her artistic palette, and are transformed into intricate depictions of landscapes and abstract currency designs, reflecting the complex world we occupy.
Hongxing’s practice encourages profound debates on the state of our communities and environment. The transformations due to globalisation that countries around the world have encountered are examined, and the artist questions the cost of this apparent progress. By using familiar and ubiquitous children’s stickers, this medium speaks of innocence and the idea of democracy. The effect is dazzling and sublime, but beneath the surface Hongxing presents a world that is challenging our very nature, traditions and heritage that are possibly the most valuable assets of our time.
Born in 1972 and based in Beijing, Hongxing was selected by the curator of the Asian Art Museum in California and the director of Art Cologne out of over a thousand emerging Chinese artists as one of China’s top twenty rising artists. Her unique aesthetic and use of children’s stickers has established her as one of China’s most exciting artists working today. Her work has been exhibited internationally including China Art Museum, Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art, Nanjing Museum of Contemporary Art, Visual Arts Centre of New Jersey, USA, Art Stage Singapore, India Art Fair, Pulse New York and recently at the Lux Art Institute in San Diego, USA where she completed a month-long residency. Her work is widely collected and has been placed in private collections around the world, including Asia, America, Europe and the UK.