The Republic and Qiu Shui (group)
Date 2021.03.06-2021.04.17...closed
Venue Tong Gallery+Projects
(D06 798 Main 2nd Street,798 Art Zone, No. 2 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District,Beijing, Beijing)
Curator Zhou Tong
Artist Ding Shiwei, Jin Yanan, Liu Guoqiang b.1988, Yi Lian


Zhuangzi and Huizi were crossing the Hao River by the dam. Zhuangzi said, "See how free the fishes leap and dart: that is their happiness." Huizi replied, "Since you are not a fish, how do you know what makes fishes happy?" Zhuangzi said, "Since you are not I, how can you possibly know that I do not know what makes fishes happy?" Huizi argued, "If I, not being you, cannot know what you know, it follows that you, not being a fish, cannot know what they know. The argument is complete!" Zhuangzi said, "Wait a minute! Let us get back to the original question. What you asked me was 'How do you know what makes fishes happy?' From the terms of your question, you evidently know I know what makes fishes happy. "I know the joy of fishes in the river through my own joy, as I go walking along the same river."
Socrates: Dear Glaucon, to the previous argument; the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to the poor belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed- whether rightly or wrongly God knows. But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.
A philosopher once said western philosophy is just a series of footnotes to Plato. Plato tells the allegory of the cave in his work The Republic, which is the first time that humanity has seriously questioned the authenticity of our perceived reality. At the same time, Chuang Tzu, a Chinese philosopher of the 4th century BC, raises the question of ‘What makes it real?’ for the first time in Chinese history, laying the foundation for eastern philosophy. Both great philosophers from the east and west, focus with one accord on the question of “What does existence mean for every individual?”, which not only baffles philosophers, but also artists throughout history-it’s the question of being, and thinking of aesthetics itself.
In his book The Society of the Spectacle, French Marxist theorist Guy Debord describes the society we live in as a simplified, emotional world where the flow of spectacles can erase all meaning, and which are manipulated by others in the same way. The possessive desire for material goods starting from the Industrial Revolution has been replaced by fake pageants where the masses are toyed with by the media and led astray from the actual meaning of events. Iconology becomes the foundation of art; even all it means. More ludicrously, many artists deviate from their true feelings and declaring multidimensional expositions on their art creations by following the logic of art critics and in the end, their extravagant and baseless talks reinforce the weightless reality of the spectacles. Whether artists can disengage themselves from texts or images and create art sincerely, should instead be the standard for a good artist.
The four artists in this exhibition try to remove the false masks disguising their souls in their own way. Despite their different approaches and goals, their thoughts trace their paths of exploration. Their spiritual journeys are similar to those of Plato in Republic and Chuang Tzu in Qiu Shui (Autumn floods). Rather than paraphrase their ideas in explicit words, I think we might as well open these two great philosophical books and bring the classics back to the present.
The reinterpretation of art happens every day. We rewrite and reinterpret classics and turn what was once seen as misinterpretations into right answers, regarding what was once right as wrong. It is this back-and-forth interpretation that pushes human’s consciousness, just like the universe, into further, greater, deeper realms of the subconscious world. The development from nothing to something, just like visible light, can never illuminate all darkness, but isn’t that the reason and meaning of artistic creation? Their works may appear irrelevant to each other, but once combined, they are dark lines or sharp edges that pierce through the mask of falsehood in front of us. Surely you have to contemplate and observe their works before you are touched by them and feel the sincerity of those artists.
Duchamp introduced ready-made objects into the circle of contemporary art by bringing an ordinary industrial product into the holy hall of art. If we elaborate on the concept of ready made object in today’s context, we might try to use classics to interpret contemporary artists’ creation. In this sense, it seems that artistic creation repeats itself in each generation, but because it takes place in a different time-space, each artwork that carries the weight of ideas, not only conveys different feelings, but also reveals the trueness of individuals living at that time.
Artists Info
DING Shiwei tries to extract “symbols” from history, products, geometry and internet to imagine, extend, trace back and predict, so as to manipulate individual opinions on politics, life and time to dig into the multi-dimension of daily symbols, which is the origin of his creation and research. “Project” is DING’s work method for different stages, it emphasizes on the integrity of narration, cope the inner logic from a point to a whole side between works under a same project, to stimulate the complex coordination between sense and sensibility, imagination and concept. DING’s project series include video, installation, graft and text to build a unique esthetic style and provide special sensible entrances for each project. His completed projects include “Enter The Void” (2019-2020) “What We Talk About When We Talk About Sea Horizon & Moon” (2017-2018), “Meteor Sonata” (2015-2016) and “Utopia” (2013-2014), each containing multiple works.
JIN Yanan is interested in generating all kinds of dialogues. His work form is relatively complex. Earlier, he participated in art groups or group creation as a way to explore the relationship between individual checks and balances in groups. Then he tries to work in public utilities, community design, urban planning to explore the failure of consultation between all levels and the logic behind the dislocation. In recent years, he has paid more attention to the differential performance of individual or group units in collusion mechanism, aiming at the metaphorical design of mechanism architecture to strengthen the aggressiveness of dialogue. At present, some of his designs are presented through the narrative clues and participatory experience of his works, and the other part is carried out through project planning.
JIN Yanan graduated from the Sculpture Department of China Academy of fine arts with a master’s degree in 2012 and now works in the Sculpture Department of China Academy of fine arts. The artist’s personal projects include Moving interval, OCT Boxes Art Museum, Guangzhou (2020); Come and Go, Imagokinetics Lab, Hangzhou (2019); Real-time generation in endless surrounding, T-project space, China Academy of fine arts, Hangzhou (2018).
LIU Guoqiang (b.1988, Shandong, China), graduated from China Academy of Art (CAA) with a bachelor degree in new media in 2011; graduated from China Academy of Art (CAA) with a master degree in new media in 2015; currently lives in Hangzhou as a freelance artist. The artist works with media such as video, installations, and graphic arts, with a focus on analyzing daily life from different conceptual perspectives and his works are direct and succinct in visual expression.
YI Lian (b. 1987, Jiangxi, China) obtained a bachelor’s degree from the New Media Art Department, China Academy of Art in 2009; obtained a master’s degree from the School of Intermedia Art, China Academy of Art in 2012; lives & works in Hangzhou, China. The awards/nomination won by the artist includes: won the 2019 Jimei x Arles Discovery Award. Jime x Arles International Photo Festival, Xiamen (2019); the 3rd Wallpost Artist Award,won the "Excellence Award”, Today Art Museum, Beijing (2018); shortlisted for the Sanya Art Season HUAYU Youth Award, Sanya (2018); the 4th Art 8 Chinese Young Artist Award (nomination), Beijing (2018); won the “Gold Award” of China Academy of Art graduate creative and Lin Fengmian Creation Award, Hangzhou (2012); M50 creative 2010 new selection, won the "Judges Award". Shanghai (2010).