Artist Zhai Liang's Statement of this series:
Paintings often have a particularly chaotic feeling, which mix real and made-up things. It is difficult to differentiate the two. The artist adds his own experience and imagination to things like memories, movies, literature, songs, making them into new materials and nutrients. For example, Eko re-created Podolino based on Odyssey, but transformed the protagonist into an anti-hero who is used to lying (or as Bloom in Joyce’s Ulysses).
The entire project comes from My Autobiography, an autobiography narrated by Charlie Chaplin and written by others. It contains both the comedian masters' whitewashing of their lives and a real mocking and gratitude to families, friends and the fate. The contradiction between these two deepens Chaplin’s comedy image, which inspires me to create this series of works. I combined my own story, or the story of this era, with lives of Chaplin (and later Chen Peisi, and Socrates), and at the same time made the form of painting as simple as possible, constructing a state which is from nowhere but has direct indication.
There are different clues between each piece. Although each painting is independent, they are connected by a thin rope like a pearl necklace, from Chaplin's comedy to Chen Peisi, from the running in comedy to philosophers playing football, and to the useless writing of intellectuals.
However, painting is different from literature or film, and it does not have the nature of temporality. It has no major and minor plots, instead, it represents all at once, framing everything together. In fact, each piece of work has an independent time and space, like a room, in which the story whether happened or did not happen at all. The question of how to paint is not important to a certain extent. Ultimately, the moving point is not judged by the form, but a feeling of experience and memory. The accuracy and fullness of that feeling are more important, which is what I would like to figure out. Horace once said that “poetry is like a picture”, and the reverse may also be true as“pictures are like poetry”.
Zhai Liang’s work is famous for its fusion of pictorial representation and literalization. His early series “The Garden of Forking Paths” regarded the novel of Jorge Luis Borges’ novels as the breakthrough point, transforming the stories and characters into visualized “hypertext” and extending the observation of painting to the spatial narrative itself. Later, he entered a new progress of thinking and accumulation. In solo exhibition “Slow”, he simplified the narrative structures and strengthened the experiments of brush strokes and picture’s textures, unfolding his own “literature” in his unique way.
---- Zhai Liang, May. 2020
This solo exhibition will present Zhai Liang’s latest works created since 2019. “Imaginary Comedy” maintains the creative style as that of exhibition “The Garden of Forking Paths” in which the literalization and visualization are fused. Starting with the surreal depiction of famous comedian Charlie Chaplin, the artist penetrates the comedy itself and the tragic core behind that, as well as the relationship among different actors, artists, philosophers and their historical backgrounds. Meanwhile, Zhai Liang keeps exploring into methodologies of painting and visual structures, thus the insightful painting language and speculative themes can be integrated. This makes his work visually pleasant while not lose its critical foundation.