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Present Moment - October Gallery

Exhibition preview

PRESENT Moment, a group exhibition presenting the works of selected artists from Asia, will be on display at October Gallery from January 24 to February 23, 2019.

Artists include Jukhee Kwon, Tian Wei, Huang Xu, Govinda Sah ‘Azad’, Kenji Yoshida and Xu Zhongmin; artists whose work creates a momentary stillness, each piece capturing a meditative moment of serene lightness.

Present Moment will debut striking new works by South Korean artist Jukhee Kwon, who creates works from the printed page. Using abandoned and disused books, she cuts and manipulates pages by hand to create magnificent sculptures. These sculptures, brimming with energy, reimagine the form of each book to a new existence through this transformational creative process. Much of her work plays with ideas of destruction and re-creation.

Kwon’s cutting and expanding of books alludes to a feeling of freedom and movement, mimicking her own migratory experience. As she cuts each page, the process becomes a means to travel the tracks of half-held memories and to retrace those first conscious steps towards the creation of a new life. As Kwon notes, “For me, each book has individual personality and it has narrative and history like a human being.”

Tian Wei was born in Xi’an, the first imperial capital of China, and original starting point of the Silk Road, which played a seminal role in linking East and West together in a complex network of trade and reciprocal exchange.

Tian Wei’s large scale colourful paintings, both theoretically and formally, construct a bridge between things that appear as dyadic opposites, binary poles or complementary pairs through his inclusion of text. On trying to read Wei’s words as Chinese characters the viewer soon realises the flowing shapes can only be resolved in English. The lines spell out simple English nouns and adjectives such as ‘Light’ and ‘Soul.’ These carefully chosen words give the viewer access to the artist’s lived experience of both Eastern and Western spheres.

Huang Xu, from China, focuses on a singular object, carefully staged to capture its ethereal beauty as opposed to its meaning within contemporary culture. In his Fragments series he creates large-scale C-prints that explore the fragile nature of the contemporary global economy. The tattered remains of abandoned plastic bags are digitally remodelled, using 3-D scanners, to produce images of haunting luminosity.

Huang Xu elevates this detritus to inspirational heights. Far from resembling waste, his densely textured, luminous prints suggest the fine silk textiles of Imperial China, evoking an age of decadence and wealth, recalling the historic trade links between China and the West. His latest series of works focuses on the sensual, yet fragile aspects of nature.

Through painting, Nepalese artist Govinda Sah ‘Azad’ effortlessly balances traditional eastern metaphysical insights about the nature of reality with visual realisations that are in accord with the latest formulations of contemporary western science, thereby imagining a cosmos of boundless possibilities. A painter of tempestuous skies and cosmic explosions, Sah is drawn towards the unknown.

Sah’s cloud-scapes represent energy transformations between different physical states and become metaphors of our collective emotional states.

The cloud is an ancient symbol of connection between heaven and earth, between water and air and between the natural and the supernatural orders in many different traditions around the world.

Kenji Yoshida (1924-2009) was born in Ikeda City (part of present-day Osaka). Yoshida first studied art under Kiyoshi Hayashi Sensei before the outbreak of WWII. Selected for training as a kamikaze pilot, Yoshida was extremely lucky to survive his teens. It was under the weight of many such memories, that Yoshida returned to his art. From that point onwards the majority of Yoshida’s work carried the single, most telling of all titles, Sei-Mei – La Vie – Life.

Yoshida’s monumental works consist of ethereal gold, silver and precious metals on canvas which unite a restrained tradition of Japanese appliqué work with that of an abstract modernist aesthetic.

In 1964, Yoshida left Japan permanently and moved to Paris, the acknowledged centre of Modernism. This move brought Yoshida’s work into the great movements of the time. He was confronted by the heady shock of the Abstract Expressionists, in particular Rothko and Motherwell, who both employ similarly abstract forms in striving for the transcendent spirituality that characterises Yoshida’s art.

In 1993, Yoshida became the first living artist ever to be given a solo exhibition at the Japanese Galleries of the British Museum.

In the exhibited works, Xu Zhongmin (China) uses the traditional technique of Chinese wood-block printing with delicately incised lines chiselled in to ‘pear wood’ blocks. These lines trace complicated networks of forms whose sinuous appearance belies the fact that they are composed entirely of meticulously straight incisions. The lines bring to life a series of towering city-scapes, stylised and distorted, but stamped with a range of individual atmospheres passing from bustling movement to quiet serenity.

His most recent works are inspired by both the architect Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome and the recurring patterns that pervade Tibetan Buddhist iconography. The intricate sculptures contain stainless-steel egg-planets circling silver skeletons and babies on a repetitive furious march to nowhere.

Admission: Free.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday from 12.30 – 5.30pm.

October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AL

Telephone: 020 7242 7367