Construction and destruction at White Rabbit Gallery

Construction and destruction at White Rabbit Gallery
Image: ZHANG DALI 张大力, Square 9, 2014, resin, 180 x 170 x 90 cm - Photography Hamish McIntosh

A Blueprint for Ruins brings together the works of Chinese artists in a collective comment on insensitive urbanisation and the legacy of built-in obsolescence. The various works include sculptures, installations, canvases and multi-media, and each in their way, address the emotional impact of rapid urban development and demise. 

BAI YILOU 白宜洛, Illumination, 2011, antique household lamps, approx. 600cm diameter – Photography Hamish McIntosh
HU QINGYAN 胡庆雁, The World of Silence IV, Fruit and Vegetable Store 1 and Exhale Inhale, 2022, marble, dimensions variable – Photography Hamish McIntosh

As China experiences unprecedented economic growth, it is modernising its cities using the same errors in judgement that cities all over the world have used, creating wastelands and ghettos and holding its own extensive history to ransom. 

The artists whose have contributed to A Blueprint for Ruins have used media including metal, concrete, glass, wire, porcelain, resin, as well as the more traditional ink, oil, acrylic and marble in creative responses that range from nostalgic to cynical to humorous. All have a sense of empathy and connection to culture. 

CHEN WEI 陈维, Drunken Dance Hall, 2015, wood, steel, luminescent paint, broken glass, lights, acrylic, mirrors, site specific, dimensions variable – Photography Hamish McIntosh

Zhang Dali’s Square 9 is a resin sculpture of a person with arms outstretched with birds perched and pecking at them. It may be a parody of a statue but it also has an inherent melancholy about it. 

Chen Wei’s Drunken Dance Hall is an installation that features a room with mirror balls on the ground, empty drink bottles, speakers and coloured lights. It speaks of abandoned hedonism. 

JIAN JUN XI 奚建军, The Empire, 2013, wood, light, 520 x 286 x 286 cm. Photography Hamish McIntosh
HE CHI 何迟, Goodle, 2019, Porcelain, 1000 pieces, each 3-8 cm diameter – Photography Hamish McIntosh

One of the most striking works in terms of iconography is Jian Hun Xi’s  The Empire, which is immediately recognisable as the dome of the Capitol building in Washington DC. It is a large replica made of raw wood and it has a slight tilt, much like the famous Tower of Pisa. The interior of the dome is like a doll house, outfitted with miniature bedroom furniture; a conspicuous CTV camera, however, negates the concept of domestic bliss. 

There are many more works in A Blueprint for Ruins; it’s a reflective, eye-opening walk-through which has relevance to the world beyond China. 

Until May 12

White Rabbit Gallery, 30 Balfour St, Chippendale

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