• Date
      2015.06.06 - 2015.08.09
    • Artist
      Zheng Guogu
    • Curator
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Ubiquitous Plasma

Zheng Guogu is primarily known for his work with installation, with calligraphy and photography, and with outlandish performances. For a number of years, he has evolved his ideas in pictorial form although the term “painting” does not explain his approach adequately. In style they tend to be graphic, and illustrative of the concepts he explores. They are as likely to be created from manmade fabric with stencils embossed on the surface as to be photo composites on rice paper or printed overlays of iconographic images across the surface, as to be conventional paint applied to a canvas using a brush. They are consistently visually mesmerising.
One of the first major examples was the 2012 room-sized painting titled Spirits Linger With Dust: Untitled. This particular piece was inspired by a series of paintings that Zheng Guogu began in 2011, and which explored the visual aesthetic and motifs commonly found in Buddhist mandala paintings. Mandalas are shorthand representations of a spiritual worldview or cosmology that positions the realm of men vis-à-vis the heavenly paradise humankind seeks to attain. For Zheng Guogu, the manipulation of the mandala has been a reflection upon, in his words, “the local context of a specific space and a specific moment in time” in the manner that “humans react to different circumstances by going with the flow.”
The exhibition “Ubiquitous Plasma” here follows on from a large-scale installation presented at the Rockbund Museum in Shanghai in 2014. This was less a mural in concept but still covered the entire wall area of the gallery. In late 2014, Zheng Guogu also participated in the Shanghai Biennale, Social Factory, where he introduced to the exhibition space the garden-like construct of revealing and concealing, creating a pathway for visitors to follow in order to view the works as the artist intends. He introduces here too in a sequence of structures inserted into the space each with a “window” through which to have attention focused on a work elegantly placed in the centre of the window view. Zheng Guogu’s centrepiece here are two major mural works. These echo Spirits Linger With Dust: Untitled and are produced in a similar process of “social collaboration” with local volunteers.
Another element here, placed at the centre of the exhibition space, is a selection of works, which attempt to describe the electrical friction that occurs in the brain at the moment it is moved or affected by external stimulus. The “paintings” are as a map brain impulse motion, simulating a measure along the same idea of tracking electrical impulses. This reference to or interest in brain activity was referenced in an earlier series of works titled Computer Controlled by a Pig's Brain. In Zheng Guogu’s vision, the “map” measures degrees of enlightenment, of spiritual wholeness as a component of the intelligence we possess. This is, therefore, not as simple as how smart we may appear to be but the capacity for insight we possess. The visualisations of brain-insight capacity presented here are intended to function as triggers for sensors in our own brains as we try to make sense of the image Zheng Guogu presents us with, both here and in the mandala paintings. As a distillation of so much spiriting and philosophical pondering, “Ubiquitous Plasma” is a holistic environment filled with all the visual tools and stimuli necessary to contemplate where we come from, a little of what we are, and where all this may be taking us.

About the Artist

Zheng Guogu was born in 1970 in Yangjiang, Guangdong Province. He graduated from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 1992 and continues to live and work in Yangjiang, a place which also lends its name to the artist collective Zheng Guogu founded there in 2000.


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