artists & participants
Niki de Saint Phalle & Shen Yuan
28 August – 14 October 2018 (new date not reflected in announcement)
This summer, Power Station of Art is holding HON an exhibit that pairs the female artists Niki de Saint Phalle & Shen Yuan to present important selected works from throughout both of their careers. The exhibition sets out to pay homage to HON, a milestone work created in 1966 by Niki de Saint Phalle, which is one of the earliest large-scale artworks in the history of contemporary female artists. The Swedish word “HON,” meaning “she” in English, is connected with two Chinese characters also resembling the word "she" in Chinese. This conceptual linguistic connection is a medium by which we intend to build a conversation between two female contemporary artists, regardless of their different backgrounds.
Niki de Saint Phalle, born in 1930 at Neuilly-sur-Seine, France and passed away at La Jolla, California in 2002, is an artist widely known for her artworks of various forms and media, including collages, sculptures, lithographs and films. She draws inspirations for art creation from a wide range of fields such as personal life experiences, mythologies and social issues. In the early 1960s, at a time when abstract art was still prevailing in the west, Niki emerged, as an intruder, in the art field of the time, given that she had not received any formal education in art. She expands on the “shooting” paintings or tirs, assemblages of disparate objects covered with plaster that conceals containers of paint. They produce spontaneous effects and the dispersion of colors on boards when hit by a bullet. Her “target” paintings turned her famous and made her a key figure of the New Realism movement in Europe, as she is the one who leads the conceptual transition in painting and sculpture. During the mid 1960s, Niki de Saint Phalle starts with Nanas, which is the most representative artworks of hers, and creates these plump and freely-posed forms one after another. Later, she produced a number of large-scale installations as well as the sculptures at the Tarot Garden in Italy. In the early 1990s, Niki immigrates to the United States and her life there serves as a blueprint for California Diary, a series of 26 lithographs.
Shen Yuan, born in Xianyou, Fujian in 1959, is a representative female contemporary artist. She studied in the faculty of Chinese Painting at Zhejiang Academy of Art (now China Academy of Art) and expanded on experimental arts as led by the trend at the time. She experienced changes of living environment and a discontinuity of cultures as she moved to France in the 1990s, which provokes her reflection on language and identity issues. Shen is skilled at using daily objects to perform artistic creation and has a preference for those that dissolve shortly and are difficult to use. She believes that “It is the responsibility of an artist to endow new values upon things.” Materials like knitting, embroidery, hair and shoes emerge constantly in her artworks, reflecting the plainness of female life experiences as well as the grandness of female discourse. Her recent artworks demonstrate a closer association with her peripatetic experiences travelling around the world, which exhibits her acute perception towards the dramatic changes that are taking place around us.