Exhibition dates: 14 – 20 September 2015
Candid Arts Trust Gallery
3-5 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ

Private view: 16th September
Professionals’ reception: 17th September

Sideline Final

Sideline / 旁观


ART.ZIP is pleased to announce Sidelines, a solo show by Chinese-born recent Slade graduate Sun Yi, presenting work from several series created throughout his degree, between 2013 and 2015.

The exhibition comprises 40 works across a broad spectrum of drawing, sculpture, installation and performance – bound conceptually in their origins in the everyday. A free newspaper left on the tube, a bench, a packet of cigarettes, debris, nails, wood, wire and string may be small and insignificant, forming the backdrop of life, but constitute the central component of Sun Yi’s work, running through both the materiality and form of his practice. A highlight of the exhibition is a vast 6x3m canvas, rusted into by the incorporation of recyclable objects and materials donated by major recycling corporation Tianjin Xinneng Renewable Resource Co.

A young artist from Tianjin, Sun Yi is an important coordinate in the collision between the West and China. Sidelines has been staged as a summary of his artistic creation during his academic career in Britain, and his unique study and pathway gives far-reaching sociological significance to the show – he is a dynamic model of the conflict between tradition and modernity, east and west, usefulness and uselessness, passage and eternity, forwardness and backwardness, lightness and weightiness.

Currently also exhibiting in Wastelands, a group show at OVADA, Oxford, alongside some of China’s best known contemporary artists such as Ai Weiwei and Cao Fei, Sun Yi is swiftly establishing himself as an artist of particular relevance in the international market. Wastelands, aligning eight contemporary artists with strong ties to China, explores the notion of ‘waste’ as a result of consumption through different landscapes and materials, engaging in themes of neo-liberal ideologies, consumption, development and economies of culture. These themes – along with other key concerns of the artist – are manifest furthermore in Sidelines.

Trained as a young apprentice in the traditional Chinese arts of drawing, ink and calligraphy, Sun was largely independent of the official educational establishment – with that its political burdens – and able to develop a comprehensive appreciation of Chinese classical philosophy and culture. It is because of this engagement with tradition that he is able to carry the core values of traditional Chinese culture, with all its proper precision and restraints. In balance, China was during that period insulated from the Western understanding of contemporary art. In choosing to study at Slade, therefore, an inevitable logical leap brought about conflict, integration, and an appreciation that his earlier isolation was, in fact, an enabling factor in his ability to directly and purely access the context of authentic contemporary art. Through study, continuous self-overturn and cultural collision, Sun Yi nurtured within himself a unique artistic clue—a passion to overthrow the supposed status and property of matters, to examine identity, to reflect on and practice contradiction itself.

Top: Found material drawing No.1 (2015), from the White Objective Drawing series; Bottom right and left: from the Cutting series

Drawing remains central to Sun Yi’s oeuvre, present even in the sculptural and object-based work. Lines, composition and material are manipulated, extending the act of drawing into three-dimensional space. Function is denied in favour of a philosophical and aesthetical positioning in sculptural form. With drawing at the emotion of his work, as a fundamental aspect of cultural expression connecting low and high art, Eastern and Western cultural traditions, works are whittled down and worked on, yet left barely discernible as aesthetic objects in their execution.

In his work can be found the constant search for a kind of ‘imperfection’ that is philosophically aligned with with Daoism or Chan Buddhism – humility and acceptance being valued above any outward display of ego, spectacle, capitalism or neo-liberalism. In his shift to London, such values fused with other philosophical thinking, forging a constant dialogue with the thinking of such philosophers as Kant, Wittgenstein and Agamben, demonstrating Sun Yi’s broad range of intellectual engagement in issues of taste, value and language. Referring to aesthetics, the western philosopher Kant holds that art should be detached from concept, disinterested from concern and divorced from purpose, so that it will attain the ideal “zweckmassigkeit ohne zweck” (purposiveness without purpose). Such ideas are echoed with the Chinese artistic philosophy which pursues a state of freedom both in the mind and the hand.

“Art, as far as I have practiced it, seems to me like water, tasteless, but you could never live without it. Whatever forms it takes, I get bored as the excitement fades and as time passes, I even forget it ever existed…In Chinese culture, ‘non-existence means existence’, ‘existence means Dao (the way)’ and ‘Dao’ can never be literally explained. In terms of this idea, I am relentlessly striving for the ‘non-existence’ of my work. Perhaps ‘being’ and ‘not being’ are of no difference, they are meaningless in the end, nothing but a different way of thinking. We are a generation that is experiencing the most revolutionary and competitive era of Chinese history. Everything is unbelievably fast and unsettling. The faster the country develops economically, the faster it degenerates spiritually. This might be one of the reasons that pushes me to ‘understatement’, or, even ‘non-existence’.” -Sun Yi

    jiancaihou   39a
Above left: from the One Cent Project, 2014; Above right: December 8, 2014 (2014), newspaper, red acrylic, monoprint, 56x74cm

Sun Yi shattered the relationship between price and value of artwork through the One Cent project – the objects and the coin (also an object) become interchangeable in a value system that levels the field of values to a nominally flat plane. Here the art market is subtly invoked in a wry lowering of the stakes, as the question of materiality and culture is called in, in which artworks are shown up as exchanged in a distorted value system of cumulative capital and market forces.

Ultimately Sun’s works are an exploration of value as much as they are beholden to the aesthetic, cultural, social and economic – our very existence in a society is threaded together through value systems. Similarly, a news story may narrate the tragic, heroic or historic, but as an object, the story itself and the image, it is also dispensable, disposable, to be cast away until the next comes along. The artist reconstructs the connection between the timeliness and timelessness of news. By using throwaway newspapers, he satirizes the side effects of over-development, through the debris of ready-made products.

Equally ‘high art’ is set aside in Sun’s work, for small seemingly insignificant sketches that give back value through a small retrieval. The sketches, as meditational crossing and unravelling of connections, the daily act of calligraphy touches the surface lightly, allowing them to hover into view – to linger, reflect and reconnect. Sun’s is the opposite of spectacle or the often heightened language of contemporary art vocabulary in the mainstream art world. Perhaps in response to an earlier generation of forceful gestural work or giant-scale installations, he looks towards Twombly, On Kawara or Anastasi, whose works made different kinds of connections through drawing or marking time, as modes of touch, sensibility, sensory experience or acts of memory.

He works back into the underbelly, retrieving and considering what runs through society, manifesting itself in barely visible form, yet revealing disturbing ideologies and questionable modes of consumption. In a stratified economic value system, lowest common denominators are brought in such as pieces of wood, nails, string (dyed with ink), penny coins, scratching the base of our environment, showing a deep understanding of the ‘ordinary’ as essential and sustainable aspects of life. Sun calls drawing ‘an inexplicit and attractive object’ and perhaps this neat phrase describes his mode of practice.

Formally, Sun Yi’s work pursues a dialogue across different artistic vocabularies from China and the West, making connections with drawing, painting and sculpture as integral aspects of cultural production across time and space. The final works are accumulations of understandings of liminality, tension and the paradoxes that create the push and pull of forces and structures, in society and culture.

“‘Objective time’ and ‘spiritual space’ are impeccably pure, I regard the two as a perfect duo. Regardless of equality, we distinguish things as good and bad, beautiful and ugly, first and second, right and wrong, yin and yang, yes and no…
I love a connected world and a world of solitary independence.
I love sentimental tears, and indifferent streets.
I love seriousness, no less than craziness.
I love both the positive and the negative.
Existence as much as non-existence.” -Sun Yi, midnight, 23 June 2015

“He works back into the underbelly, retrieving and considering what runs through society, manifesting itself in barely visible form, yet revealing disturbing ideologies and questionable modes of consumption. In a stratified economic value system, lowest common denominators are brought in such as pieces of wood, nails, string (dyed with ink), penny coins, scratching the base of our environment, showing a deep understanding of the ‘ordinary’ as essential and sustainable aspects of life.”-Dr. Katie Hill, Exhibition Curator and Course Leader of the Asian Art & its Markets semester programme at Sotheby’s Institute

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Performance Benches Holding Up (2014)



卡迪德藝術畫廊( Candid Arts Trust Gallery)
3-5號 Torrens 街,倫敦,EC1V 1NQ

ART.ZIP 誠邀您參加中國年輕藝術家孫毅個人作品展《旁觀(Sidelines)》,該展主要展示了2013至2015年孫毅在英國斯萊德藝術大學(Slade School of Fine Art ) 學習期間的作品。展出的40多件作品中包括了繪畫,雕塑,裝置以及行為藝術作品。隨手擲於地鐵上的免費報紙、板凳、煙、鐵釘或木屑、電線、繩子等等這些構成我們每天生活的不起眼的物品就是孫毅過去幾年藝術創作的核心素材,貫穿了他整個藝術創作的選材和形式。此次展覽的一大亮點是一幅巨大的6×3米的“繪畫”作品,孫毅利用廢品回收公司捐贈的材料,通過鏽跡滲透在畫布上而製成。

孫毅,一位來自中國天津的青年藝術家,一位畢業於倫敦斯萊德藝術學院(Slade School of Fine Art, University of London)的純藝碩士,一個中西文化碰撞節點上的座標。2015年9月,他在倫敦的第二次個人展覽《旁觀(Sidelines)》是其遊學英倫期間創作成果的總結性展覽,孫毅獨有的求學經歷和成長歷程使得這次的展覽具有了更為深遠的社會學意義──一個鮮活的傳統與當代、東方與西方、有用與無用、消逝與永恆、進與退、輕與重碰撞的樣本。


孫毅自幼學習中國傳統繪畫和書法,孫毅的學習沒有中國官方教育體制帶來的政治負擔,從而讓他能發掘更多中國古典哲學和文化的價值。因為這些對中國傳統文化的了解, 他承擔了更多中國傳統文化的核心價值。中國傳統文化發展的時期完全隔絕了西方藝術文化的影響。孫毅選擇在斯萊德學習,必然會帶來衝突和融合,以及對他早期中國傳統藝術學習隔離時期的讚賞。事實上,這也給了他更多的有利條件去直接和純粹地去探討真正的當代藝術狀況。通過不斷地自我顛覆和文化碰撞,孫毅探索出了獨特的藝術線索————推翻問題固有的狀態和屬性,探索本質,反思實踐和矛盾的本身。






同樣地,“高雅藝術”在孫毅的作品中還是留有地位的,因為那些看起來無足重輕的小速寫實際上通過小小的交易重獲了價值。這些速寫,作為日常書法冥想的交織和意義聯繫的澄明, 輕輕地跳躍於作品表面,盤旋著進入我們的眼界————流連著、反思著、重構著。孫毅是當今主流藝術世界宏大高調話語體系的反面。也許是為了回應力度氣度非凡的前代身體作品(Gestural Work)和巨型裝置藝術,他看齊的對像是托姆布雷(Twombly)、河原溫(Kawara)或阿納斯塔西(Anastasi),這些藝術家的作品通過繪畫或標記時間造成了各種聯繫,作為觸覺模式、感性、感官經驗或記憶行為。




Edited & Translated by Qiwen Ke
編輯 x 翻譯:柯淇雯


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