Li Ran in 'Painting Unsettled', UCCA Edge, Shanghai, China
11 March 2023
From 11 March to 21 May 2023, UCCA Edge presents the group exhibition 'Painting Unsettled', featuring a suite of new work by Li Ran. Bringing together eight Chinese-born artists from different generations and educational backgrounds, who work with different styles and techniques, the exhibition explores the possibilities offered by painting in the fractured information landscape of the present moment.
While the notion that photography would lead to painting’s obsolescence has long been disproven, new technologies and social changes are once again destabilizing the medium’s identity and questioning its relevance. In an age of parochial conservatism, incipient deglobalization, AI-generated art, and online echo bubbles, how is painting responding? 'Painting Unsettled' presents viewers with an array of potential paths forward. Its artists stage interventions freely drawing upon different historical contexts and traditional techniques from around the world; engage with local contexts through the visual languages of modernity and contemporary life; and dive into their subconscious minds to depict hazy, half-remembered scenes. The exhibition is curated by UCCA Curator Luan Shixuan.
Focusing on Chinese identity, Li Ran’s works take cues from satirical cartoons from 1930s Shanghai and Chinese theater set design from the 1950s onwards. His protagonists strike angular poses within moodily-lit, narrative-filled vignettes and appear to represent both the Chinese intellectuals of a century ago and their present day analogues, suggesting how reflecting on recent history might lead to insights about our own times.
Find further information via UCCA Edge.