Chi Peng_Now-ing

Two of China’s most important contemporary Digital Printmakers and Photographers, Chi Peng and Yao Lu, will be visiting the School of Art and Design’s Institute for Electronic Art over the week of October 5th. They will hold an artist lecture on October 6th at 6:00 pm in Nevins Theater of Alfred University.

International exhibiting artist Chi Peng’s work is currently part of Typology/Morphology exhibit that is on display in the Fosdick Nelson Gallery. Professor Yao Lu is the Chair of the Department of Photography at the Central Academy of Art in Beijing and is regarded as one of the most important photographers in China today.

Chi Peng was a visiting resident artist at the IEA in 2005. Chi Peng graduated from Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2005, where he majored in photography and digital media. He enjoys the power and unconstrained parameters of digital technology, saying, “It is the only major that will not limit my thought.” Chi Peng’s work also contains much critical afterthought on society, politics and tradition. But what separates him from older generations of artists is that this thought starts from the individual’s point of view, not that of a generation or collective. This individuality and artistic expression is more directly affecting, and represents the potential of the new generation of artists. In Journey to the West – Now-ing, Chi Peng transforms himself, in the shape of the Monkey King Sun Wukong (an incarnation of the “problem child” and rebel), into King Kong. He stands with his back turned to the viewer (standing with the viewer), weapon in hand, ready for battle. The Gate of Heavenly Peace, leading to the Forbidden City, symbolises traditional culture and political power. The gorilla that lies on this very symbol of China might be from a Hollywood movie. The influence of Western culture’s hegemony in China is also the subject of the Monkey King’s challenge. The work is infused with fearless spirit and societal criticism. Chi Peng’s work is extensively exhibited including solo museum exhibitions at the Groninger Museum, Groningen, Netherlands, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China, He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen, China, Zhu Qizhan Art Museum, Shanghai, China and the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest, Hungary.

Yao Lu is well known for his artwork in the discourses of environmental art. His concern about the impact of China’s rampant path towards urbanization is portrayed in photomontaged manipulations that borrow from the classical Chinese aesthetic style of painting. Often circular, fan-shaped, or scroll-like, Lu’s harmonious landscapes are populated by tiny figures walking through the mist. However, a closer look reveals the chimerical mountain scenes are in fact construction sites scaled out of proportion. Lu’s commentary on the dramatic consequences of China’s rapid industrialization is further reinforced by the artist’s stylistic choices. His recycling of a traditional aesthetic to approach contemporary issues reveals the tension between society’s past and present values. Lu’s environmental message crosses borders and raises pressing questions about the hidden costs of modernization and global sustainability.

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