• Date
      2018.03.10 - 05.27
    • Artist
    • Curator
  • Links
  • Images


Through several years prior to 2012 when the project Good Cheer began, as Dan’er journeyed across China carrying out field research for a series of art projects, she couldn’t help but notice the prevalence of a particular aesthetic sensibility commonly found among the people, especially in communities outside larger cities. Standing outside of what artists pursue as art-within-the-art-world, common folk arts are familiar to a much greater portion of society – farmers, workers and labourers who make up the largest demographic in China – than most contemporary art projects can ever hope to reach. By default, folk arts, such as papercuts, new year pictures, figurines and embroidery, etc., are deemed low-class. Yet, these, too, have evolved through time and effort, and been passed down through successive generations through to the present. Driven by a primarily utilitarian urge, the aesthetic is characterised by motifs there to represent good fortune, as well as spiritually uplifting scenes intended to inject a sense of beauty into the dull demesne of daily life. Here, eschewing reality or realism, ideas are neatly represented by a range of visual symbols in which the bitterness of life is strictly filtered out.
Having become sensible to this phenomenon, Dan’er began collecting examples of this common aesthetic for use in her work Good Cheer. Produced over what is now a five-year period, Good Cheer comprises a series of 21 pastel drawings on paper and simple acrylic paintings on canvas, together with collected samples of locally-produced handwork. These consolidate multiple variations upon themes into a single iconic group of representative motifs, patterns and messages. The method of production appears to be pure reproduction although on a scale at odds with the originals. As with previous projects in which Dan’er has been involved – (together with artist Zhuang Hui) Drawing brother Wu 2008, Yumen 2010, and Chinese Silk 2011 – the process of reproducing is a means of gaining understanding of the original, and meditating upon the logic and raison d’être for the existence of the form. The individual pieces make little sense by themselves outside of the context of the group/archive/project within which they have been created. But together they combine to an archive of a form of visual culture widely prevalent today, which is directed by the taste of a specific and major community – the ordinary people – that is wholly independent of the usual art-world elite. Good Cheer demonstrates how, when reproduced in volume, patterns and motifs creep into daily life by virtue of the ideals they represent and reinforce. Equally, the popularity of such arts reveals the power of the group to enshrine and perpetuate a status quo by folding such symbols into the fabric of visual culture.
About the Artist
Dan’er was born in Shanbei in 1983. She is an independent artist who currently lives and works in Beijing. Because of her long encounters with folklore over time, she approaches her artistic practice through the collection and compilation of vulgar aesthetics, as well as methods of painting. Exhibitions in which Dan’er has participated include: “Arts of the States”, Shanghai Gallery of Art, Shanghai, 2015; “Civilisation, Round 2: Yulin”, OCAT Xi’an, Xi’an, 2014.

Newsletter Subscription