June 22, 2024

The World Is Yours, As Well As Ours

Yu Youhan Abstract 2007.12.1 2007 Acrylic on canvas 43 5/16 x 43 5/16 in. (110 x 110 cm) © the artist Courtesy White Cube.

The World Is Yours, As Well As Ours.

       The White Cube

Mason’s Yard

15th July – 17th September 2016

The alien ship has landed.  This is what I always think when I nip off Jermyn Street, sidle down an alley-way next to a small boozer regularly spilling its patrons out onto the rear courtyard in which is  The White Cube Gallery.  I love the juxtaposition and the sensitive nature in which it has been placed.  Although surprising when stumbled upon, the building hasn’t taken away from old London’s beloved cobbled streets and brick buildings.

The reason I was at The White Cube, Mason’s Yard was to see their new exhibition of contemporary abstract works by Chinese artists entitled, ‘The world is yours as well as ours’ .  The show explores the differing history between the western world of abstraction and that in China.  Chinese abstraction is formed from its history of calligraphy and can be seen as a style which isn’t a specific response, or even in opposition, to anything: it is just another style.

The White Cube offers two spacious exhibition rooms and a third smaller space.

Room 1.

The first room seems to be themed visually in its style.  Focussing on line, form and colour we can see how these compositional elements are used to create depth and movement.

Room 2.

The works here present fluidity, movement and the clear importance of mark making.  Some artists have utilised thick brush strokes and texture in their work by layering paint and other materials while others have subtly cracked the surface or allowed the paint to drip.  Tang Guo’s Lao River, 2015, mixed media on linen, is a large fluid piece with a marbled effect.  This beautiful piece conveys a sense of being under water, exploring the sandy bed while engulfed by warm turquoise waters.  Guo offers calming movement and depth in an abstract piece which can also be viewed as an underwater scene with water and sand.  There is a sense of sand being disturbed, swirling toward the surface which provides not only movement but a more concrete position: it makes sense to the eye that it is hung this way up.

Room 3.

The small room, which is the lower ground floor lobby, is currently home to two darker, visually flatter, acrylic works by Yu Youhan.  Purple, black, grey and yellow flow fluidly creating a contrast between a calm but slightly uneasy environment.  Circular movement accompanied by drips create a broken flow which contributes to the uneasy emotions these pieces produce.

This is a well curated exhibition and worth taking a couple of circuits of to gain the most from individual works and how the exhibition is presented as a whole.  Without specific images to focus on (which we are faced with in representational works) we are forced to experience each piece in its purist form – the elements which make it up.

White Cube Mason’s Yard, St James’s London SW1Y 6BU.

Open Tues – Sat, 10am – 6pm.

For more information visit www.whitecube.com

By Helen Shewry


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