Art Basel Hong Kong 2023


MadeIn Gallery is pleased to present a duo exhibition “Long Now” at Art Basel Hong Kong 2023, featuring paintings and sculptures by artists Lu Pingyuan and Wang Jianwei.

The two artists attempt to incorporate new understandings of humanity, consciousness, and the human condition in a digital age into visual representations. By reinventing the postwar painting conventions, they reconstruct the subjectivity as the true avant-garde within the global culture and utilize such subjectivity in their creative practice. This constitutes a cultural enterprise, not merely a change confined in contemporary art circles.

In his paintings, Wang Jianwei seeks to outline is a spatio-temporal existence larger than all human activity and perception combined. In recent years, Lynn Margulis’ research on eukaryotic cells and the resulting endosymbiotic theory, along with Graham Harman’s Object-Oriented Ontology, have contributed significantly to Wang’s thinking on art. No object on the artist’s canvas is isolated; instead, together they constitute a structure of symbiotic evolution. The object’s backgrounds are rendered on canvas as landscapes: those recognizable mountain ranges, horizons, and colorful skyscapes seemingly belong to both a remote antiquity and an unknown future, spanning a time scale both relevant to the present and beyond that of human life.

Wang’s sculpture has become a process allowing him to constantly question the assumption that an artist’s work can pre-establish a harmony between artistic ideas and the external world. Hestarts with raw material, follows its properties, waits for it to develop its “potentials” before he solidifies, for the time being, the realities that are revealed and realized one after another in a state where the works are understood as completed.

Lu Pingyuan’s latest set of reliefs “Witch’s Diary” is a testament to the wide span of media he works in and inspiration he draws from. Borrowing the perspective of the witch in the fairy tale“Hansel and Gretel”, Lu creates his – simultaneously the witch’s – diaries in the form of cookie reliefs made of polymer clay. In this process, the artist congeals imagination through a process much similar to that of food making. This is an attempt to blur the boundaries between work and life, cooking and craftsmanship, cookies and reliefs, imagination and reality.

Lu’s signature painting series “Look! I’m Picasso!” is yet another of his efforts at merging pop culture and high art, transience and monumentality. Inspired by Toy Story, the first feature-length computer-animated film produced by Pixar in 1995, the artist has conceived a series of cubist paintings and sculptures in the style of Picasso and incorporated elements inspired from the facial props of Mr. Potato Head.

“Now” is never just a moment. “Long Now” recognizes that the exact moment we are in is a fruit of the past and seed of the future. The longer we feel in the present, the more it contains of the past and the future. Ironically, just when humanity is at the pinnacle of its technological power and capable of creating massive global changes that will reverberate for centuries, the focus of the majority of our social systems, art included, seems to be geared toward an increasingly short present with a negligence for the real long-term issues.

“Long Now” seeks to ingeniously connect the two beliefs on contemporary art practice. The first is that human nature can never rid itself of primitive instincts; the second lies in the transcendence of calculation. Both opinions weigh heavily in the artistic deliberations of MadeIn Gallery. When the artists put the theory into practice, they generate an interaction between those conceptual categories and the real, complex human beings, along with their avatars in the current digital culture. A truly dynamic vitality is thereby embodied, one that resists the infectious promulgation of artificial intelligence in society with too much regard for survival and too little for an exhilarating future of humanity.