Husband and wife sculptors Wu Shaoxiang and Jiang Shuo return to Plum Blossoms Gallery to present the newest directions of their art practices and premiere their most recent sculptures with their exhibition Camouflage New Works from Wu Shaoxiang and Jiang Shuo.
Wu Shaoxiang (b. 1957) is well known for his sculptural works in wood, stone, bronze and coins. His focus for the past twenty years has emphasized his concerns about the commodiﬁcation of art as the speculative market has taken over from passionate connoisseurship diluting artistic outreach and diminishing the communication between artist and audience. While staying within his now distinctive milieu, Wu has recently turned his attention to the environment with his Strolling in Paradise series of recycled paper sculptures that he will introduce in Camouflage.
Wu Shaoxiang states that “based on my sympathetic consideration to environmental pollution and depletion of resources brought on by the economic development across Beijing and other places in China and Asia, I have been searching for alternative materials and operating methods that are more environmentally friendly, more energy efficient, require less processing equipment and are more convenient for me to use when I’m working in different studios around the world. My paper sculptures are the result of my findings. Paper has a long human art history as a medium of communication, and has always had a very special status in China. Two-dimensional calligraphy and painting are the best known examples of traditional Chinese paper art. However, paper also has three- dimensional applications as seen in Chinese folk arts and crafts like paper sculptures and paper toys. My paper sculptures are inspired by such Chinese paper art traditions, but I have incorporated more modern techniques and practices in the process. In my new sculptures, I have used paper such as highly textured paper bags, advertising ﬂyers, magazines and banknotes. I first combine the paper materials by kneading them, and then I glue them together to form shapes until a sold texture appears, leaving a glimpse of modern culture and commercial art prints as a permanent reality record”.
Jiang Shuo (b. 1958) made her name in the art world with her Red Guards series of sculptures that Plum Blossoms Gallery is proud to have first introduced in 2003. The Red Guards sculpture series created in small to large scales have been widely collected and have found many public space venues for wider audiences to appreciate. Jiang’s Red Guards sculptures are a tongue in cheek review and critique of the same Red Guard fanatics from China’s Cultural Revolution era whose extremism caused so much havoc and destruction. Now 30+ years on, these same zealots enthusiastically embrace the new materialism and search for spirituality that permeates the new China reality.
Jiang has decided that she has had enough fun with the Red Guards theme and withCamouflage she introduces her new sculptural direction, the Chinese Cat. She states that “the transition from the Red Guards series to the Chinese Cat series is an attempt to portray the current situation and mass mentality of contemporary Chinese society from a fresh perspective. Chinese people have always considered cats as fortune mascots and symbols of wealth accumulation based on the “black cat and white cat” theory. However, the cats in my Chinese Cat series are imaginary creatures. Their bodies are bloated up like a balloon, which are all filled up with material desire and ego. Their outer bodies are covered with collages of colorful silk and folk fabric, concealing their true self. Unlike my previous Red Guards series, characters in the new Chinese Cat series have lost their self-direction. All that remains for them is a sense of helplessness from following the crowd blindly.”
“The word camouflage in modern military terminology refers to the use of multi-colored protective coloration on military clothing and equipment as a stratagem of concealment. It comes from the natural adaptations which allow animals to change the color of their outer covering at anytime to blend in with their environment and remain unnoticed. Concealing-coloration in animals offers them a higher chance of survival in the jungle where the weak are prey to the strong.”
“The human society is no exception. The challenges brought by globalization, temptations of money and material wealth, robust developments as a consequence of revolution and construction and the impacts of the global economic crisis have made people become confused and perplexed. Unknowingly, people blindly follow the crowd while changing their real-self and adapting to societal changes to stay in line with the trend of times.”