Limited Art Project, Yan Lei, "The Section of Experimental Art at the 12th National Art Exhibition"

Yan Lei2014.08.18 -- 2014.09.08

Today Art Museum

Today Art Museum

The work begins with the artist’s encountering with the images. Through browsing the websites, the images come from what the artist has encountered in everyday, such as video clips, impressions, or some fleeting moments. The artist selects images from his personal memories, and his assistants use Photoshop software to process the huge amount of images (batch processing), and filers out various color zones. They mark these zones with numbers that are provided to the Marie’s Art Factory for production of paints of exact colors. The assistants then use special manufactured paints to refill the color zones according to their match numbers. In this way, they create the re-paintings, in a reproductive and mechanic manner, of the original images. At Kassel Documenta, the artist brought 360 images made in this way to the exhibition hall and hung them up in the ceiling, walls and archive shelves. During the exhibition, the artist and his team continued the re-painting process- they shipped these images to the nearby automobile factory to cover them, one by one by spray, with monotone paints. They then brought them back and re-hung them up to the ceiling. Only the label behind each image reveals the number and production time of the image.

The artist made a selection of the images, determined the way for production, and made a decision to carry the images to the exhibition hall and to re-cover them with car paints. Except the above steps, the artist has not participated in other steps, or there is no need for him to participate in any specific production and creation. He only provides an idea, an idea that could be carried out in accurate, purely mechanic ways. In other time, he only takes the role of a “QC” person.

The artist insists not to draw at all, and this work as performing art, has treated the painting activity itself as a ready-made. By erasing images that he has selected to be produced, he has traced the whole process of images from being selected and mass-produced, to being erased, and finally revived.

Last, using images and performance, the work represents a strong visual impact, like an endless, “wild field of sensation.” Every step of this work points to the issue of painting but because of the artist’ persistence of not to paint, it seems to be unrelated to the traditional discussions of paintings. In a society overloaded with unnecessary images, is it able to find a place for an individual’s selection of images?

The artist claims: “I have always been thinking of the issue of painting.” Is this an artwork discussing about painting? If no, what are the issues we need to address in contemporary painting?

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  • Title: Limited Art Project, Yan Lei, "The Section of Experimental Art at the 12th National Art Exhibition"
  • Creator: Yan Lei
  • Date: 2014.08.18 -- 2014.09.08
  • Provenance: Today Art Museum
  • Type: oil painting, canvas, car paints, performance installation
  • Creator's Dates: 1965-
  • Creator Nationality: China
  • Creator Gender: male