Cheng Ran | The Lament: Mountain Ghost: Cheng Ran
Ota Fine Arts Shanghai is delighted to present "The Lament: Mountain Ghost", a solo exhibition by Chinese artist Cheng Ran. The exhibition presents Cheng's latest video work series of the same name and several mixed-media installations, creating an art experience that shuttles across time.
Cheng, who currently resides in Hangzhou, has been creating New Media Art for many years. Drawing upon themes inspired by western popular culture and literature, his series of videos and installations have been well-received within China and abroad. In 2016, Cheng exhibited his ongoing series "Diary of a Madman", first created during a short residency in New York at the New Museum, in which he showed his unique perspective of a foreigner away from his home country.
For his new series and this exhibition, Cheng draws inspiration from "The Lament", a poem written by Qu Yuan during the Warring States period of ancient China, to discern aspects of contemporary Chinese society. The exhibition revolves around a 25 minutes video. Viewers are first greeted with the image of a man whose body is painted in white. One's attention is drawn to the distinct tattooed-like marks on his body while his slow movements remind one of dance or a type of ritual. Gradually, viewers begin to recognize that another video is projected from behind the character's body: it shows a guitarist performing and the fuzzy yet delicate sounds of his guitar resonates through the exhibition hall like a symphony of harmonizing sounds. This background music is a collaborative endeavor by Cheng Ran, Shanghai guitarist Wang Wen Wei and electronic musician Gao Jia Feng.
"The Lament" is the first romantic poem of ancient China that is inundated with fantasy and metaphors of reality that outline an idyllic yet pro-active political and scholarly attitude. Under such a context, through the use of a variety of mediums, Cheng Ran extracts the subtle yet complex emotions in the poem. This first installment of "The Lament: Mountain Ghost" takes its cue from the ghostly imagery present in Qu Yuan's poem. By constructing a mysterious ritualistic dance that oscillates between fiction and reality, Cheng expresses his attitude towards a rapidly developing city and also the dilemma between ideals and reality.
Simultaneously, Cheng presents, "Ascending Image", an ascending sculpture made out of ordinary lamps and plaster, and intentionally positioned in dialogue with the film. As a prelude to the film, Cheng also presents "Riding a Dragon Image" and "Empty Spectacular Image" where he has combined video, images and daily objects.
Ota Fine Arts Shanghai hopes that by presenting Cheng Ran's new series that viewers may experience the multi-layered and complex beauty found in art that defy strict conventional modes of mediums.