Liu Chuang at "Shanghai Dandy", Don Gallery



Duration: 10 November 2017 – 7 January 2018


Don Gallery is pleased to announce “Shanghai Dandy,” a celebration of its 10th anniversary. By means of mega-metaphor, the phrasing of the title assumes the superimposition of a semantic pun and a phonetic pun to imply the cultural philosophy that Don persists—looking for a new vernacular for innovation, leading the delivery of cutting-edge ideas in contemporary art, and embracing the boundless vigor within. 

The word dandy that emerged in the late 18th century describes a performative type of character, presenting enough romantic circumstances. The dandies prefer a deliberate shaping of lifestyle and a careful orchestration of material environment, while constantly negating themselves. Such an exotic import is gradually developed into a literary figure—a cult of self. Defined by Charles Baudelaire in the mid-19th century and accompanied with the promotion of Neo-Sensation School in the early 20th century, it brings forth the term of dandyism, pioneering the modern movement and powering its Zeitgeist.

Don Gallery attempts to trace, remodel and hack up the creative practice by a cynical dandy, having him/her shanghaied into a professional player, whose assigned role is named Dandy. Exactly as Don Gallery moved away from the historical scale of the Blackstone Apartments and join the rather active cultural hub at the once-industrial West Bund initiative, to further introduce contemporary art for the city, Dandy is seeking to cause a hybrid effect of de-cadence mixing the old and the new by diversion and transgression, which delineates a magic metropolis of the immediate future.

Dandy projects his/her perfect other self on the gendered body of modern/módēng girls and boys. (S)he appears to be hanging around and roaming about the real world, yet engaging the boundaries of different sites and installing the counter-sites in-between that contribute to the transformation of various relations and the ever-changing geographical imagination of above sea. (S)he is also much skilled at decomposing the organization of one single position. By constructing a trans-cultural landscape out of autobiographical understandings in a modest way, (s)he is able to have the confrontation among cosmopolitanism, internationalism, and globalism concentrated.

The exhibition borrows the New Fiction thinking—“obsession with China,” and appropriates the mimesis of “visual expression” that derives from colonialist literature. Starting with a defamiliarizing process of identification, the chapter-framed narrative of “Shanghai Dandy” articulating twelve artists in wake of their own artistic license would probably shed light on the precarious situation concealed in the discourse of the erotically-charged city.

A dynamic configuration of exhibited works elaborates the behavioral uncanny of Dandy, where the full-blown psychedelic experience of affect pops up. Lighting installation by LIU Chuang that bears certain feminine quality first demonstrating the internal gaze; alternative self-portraits by HU Zi, ZHANG Yunyao and XU Yi that stems from the separation of soul and flesh contrarily integrating body and mind; dark space manufactured by ZHANG Ruyi, HU Weiyi and Nabuqi rendering a “desiring apparatus” for their own good; paintings by LI Shan, QU Fengguo and LIU Ren coined with the perception of life being as a continuous flow of deformation accessing to the closed and silent rational subject by instant feelings; nature depicted by LU Song suffering from melancholia that permeates through a negative atmosphere, and even allows for uncertainty; potent monologue by a.f.art theatreFangling finally directing to all the transient states that a dandy is struggling with. The view of the exhibition resembles a Sandplay in progress. Any sensory reaction could coordinate the spatiotemporal association of the past, the present and the future.

* To shanghai someone means to kidnap someone aboard a ship for enforced service at sea, often with the help of liquor or a drug.