Event date: 25/09/2019 10:00 - 28/09/2019 18:00 Export event
Underflow: the agony and the ecstasy
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Underflow: the agony and the ecstasy

Deng Jianjin Solo Exhibition

Underflow is the first solo exhibition in the UK of the established Guangzhou-based painter Deng Jianjin (b.1961). Deng was born and raised in Guangdong, the province at the forefront of Chinese economic reforms since 1978 and the wealthiest in China today. Since Deng Xiaoping’s ‘Opening-up Policy’ were introduced four decades ago, Guangdong's inhabitants witnessed the breath-taking phenomena of industrialization, urbanization, modernization and capitalist consumerism.

Deng originally studied sculpture but in the early 1990’s, emerged as a significant post- realist painter, within an artistic development that adopted cynical realism, neo-expressionism and surrealism in China. He has been widely exhibited internationally, including in South Korea, Japan, France, Germany and the USA. His early works, subtly satirical depictions of groups of friends, appeared in several important national exhibitions and he has since evolved a distinct neo-expressionist style showing dense, fluid compositions of profligate bodies. As a pioneer of contemporary art in South China, Deng applies bold and erotic symbols in surrealist and expressionistic style, to reflect the psychological condition and spiritual state of people of various classes of society, revealing the pressure of survival and the uncertainty of the future in such a transitional society.

According to Michael Sullivan (1916-2013), the well-respected British art historian and collector in the field of Chinese art, Deng’s works ‘reflect(ing) problems plaguing Chinese society’ (Michael Sullivan, Art in China since 1949, Oxford University Press

Underflow: the agony and the ecstasy addresses the unpalatable fusion of psychological pain and physical excess borne of a rapidly urbanised, over-commoditised society exerting numerous pressures on the individual and collective psyche. Grotesque figures, often naked and masked, appear in theatrical mini psychodramas in which the protagonists flail about in various states of lust, violence and power, orchestrated by the artist through a bleakly cynical lens. Deng’s palette of pale yellows, purples and blues and his oozing painterly style captures a contemporary version of the medieval carnival. His clustered compositions act as ‘dark hallucinations’. In this exhibition, the gratuitous gratification portrayed through Deng’s imagery expresses a ‘flamboyant narrative’ provoking ‘sorrow, fear, compassion and endless delusion.’

Whether circular, triangular or hexagonal, irregular-shaped canvases are commonplace in Deng’s works. Although they are not employed to suggest religious dogma, for the past 10 years, Deng has embedded some religious ideas and iconography into his imagery, to question and inspire a deeper exploration of society and human nature.

Katie Hill, the curator of the exhibition, adopted “the agony and the ecstasy” as the subtitle of the exhibition, which is taken from the 1965 film starring Charlton Heston based on Irving Stone’s biography of Michelangelo, calling to mind conflicts of belief systems and power in the religious context of renaissance Italy and its subsequent mythology in popular culture.

In Deng Jianjin's first London exhibition - Underflow: the agony and the ecstasy - the artist will present 16 works on canvas created between 2014 and 2019, offering visitors the opportunity to view his dark and degenerate imaginary and contemplate an alternative view the of modernisation and industrialization, as well as to have a better understanding of not just the differences but commonalities between East and West. The exhibition will run from 24-28th September at the Triangle Space Gallery, Chelsea College of Arts, UAL.


Deng Jianjin Solo Exhibition

Underflowthe agony and the ecstasy

Triangle Space Gallery @ Chelsea College of Arts, UAL

16 John Islip St, Westminster, London SW1P 4JU

 24-28 September 2019 | 10AM - 6PM

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