Exploring contemporary surrealism through urbanism; Surreal City focuses on pictorial representations of contemporary Asian cities. The exhibition creates a dialogue between two artists from diverse backgrounds working in different mediums, yet whose practices display similar characteristics of contemporary surrealism.
Liu and O’Connor continue in the artistic tradition of surrealism founded by the French poet Andre Breton and defined by artists such as Salvador Dali. Surrealism was a philosophical movement that found truth in the world through the subconscious and dreams rather than logical thought. The figurative compositions of the early surrealists were often difficult to read as they used illusion and random thought to try and make sense of a world disrupted by the horrors of World War I. The personal explorations of Liu and O’Connor are not unlike that of their European predecessors. For these present-day surrealists contextual surroundings are also rapidly changing but it is the effects of social and economic development, rather than war, that affects their daily lives.
Liu, who holds a MA in digital photography, imparts her own dreams and memories on real-life by overlaying colourful animals and flora on pictures of Beijing’s cityscape. The diverse urban environment provides her with a background with which to create her pictorial fantasylands. Liu’s images revolve around her personal memories of childhood and relationships. While some lean towards melancholy there is an underlined playfulness presented in her works.
Unconditional optimism is something that transcends itself in O’Connor’s imaginary city scenes. In a new series focused on the Asian mega centres Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei and Tokyo, he concentrates on ordinary citizens in fantastical situations. The city is an elaborate stage in O’Connor’s work, where the ordinary becomes extraordinary and the most common of people become super stars. He reinforces a sense of theatre and spectatorship in his works through descriptive details of ordinary people and everyday scenes but his use of colourful and cartoon-like visuals create a dream-like scene that is strange yet familiar.
The experience of a surreal society illustrated via the artworks of O’Connor and Liu arrive from the combination of visual realities of document photography subverted with personal expressions of reality altered by their digital capabilities. Featuring subjectivity and a rejection of normality; Surreal City presents scenes from the everyday, as we have never them seen before.
Exhibition Duration: November 2nd 2013 to December 31st 2013
Participating Artists: Liu Ren & Nial O’Connor
Venue: Art+ Shanghai Gallery
Art+ Shanghai Gallery
G/F, 370-380 North Suzhou Rd
Tel : (21) 5608 6067
Tuesday to Sunday 11am to 7pm (Closed Monday)