In endless waves the moments

March 1 – 29, 2024

Opening : February 29th. 6pm

AN Xiaotong|Julie NAVARRO|SHI Qi
Curator : CUI Joseph 

The exhibition “In Endless Waves the Moments” features three painters, namely An Xiaotong, Julie Navarro and Shi Qi. The title, which takes a line from a poem by François Cheng as a lead-these binds these three different trajectories and artistic positions together:

Everything makes sense, everything is unveiled
Don. From now on, everything is transmuted:
Heaven-earth in loving flesh,
In endless waves the moments. [1]

The works in the exhibition thus address the question of transmutation. In alchemy, transmutation referred to the possibility of transforming one substance into another, or even one element into another. The works in the exhibition are concerned with the transmutation of materials, shapes and figures, positions and perspectives, to touch on the possibility of an unhindered and detached dialogue between the individual and reality.

An Xiaotong (born 1971 in Xi’an) shows a set of ink collages on rice paper. The superimposed layers of black, gray and golden papers recall traditional Chinese landscapes, but refer to the aspect of transmutation, too: The surfaces seem to be in constant movement; the final image is only an instantaneous glimpse of an intangible reality.

“Between Square Inches”, a video, that An created in 2008, similarly discusses the relationship between the individual and reality. In this video, dancers explore a space designated as cyberspace by large drawings of electrical circuits. The movements of the dancers symbolise the functioning of the brain, which in the virtual world is freed from physical constraints and allows the individual to go beyond a conventional perception of reality.

An Xiaotong graduated from Shandong University of Fine Arts (1992) and the Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts (1999). She lives and worked in Paris since 2002.

Julie Navarro (born 1972 in Paris) shows a series of paintings created during a residency near the West Lake in Hangzhou in 2023. As the artist states, the element of water is omnipresent in these watercolours. Their formal language is extremely reduced, almost laconic. Traces of water, brush strokes and colours depict the artist’s impression and convey her feeling of immersion in the emblematic Chinese landscape of the West Lake. Light, energy, the metamorphosis of materials, gesture and movement are key words in Julie Navarro’s oeuvre. Her works are contextual and seek to establish a dialogue with situations and places, as well as to reveal unnoticed relationships. The strength of the artist lies in her ability to withdraw from this process and let the formal elements and materials generate poetic and dreamlike relationships quasi naturally.

Julie Navarro obtained degrees in economics and art history in Paris in 1996 and 1998. She has worked as an artist and curator since the 2000s.

Shi Qi (born 1978 in Wenzhou) also seeks to reveal poetic relationships. The exhibited works belong to different series. “Traces des Jours” (“Everyday Traces”, from 2020), are three-dimensional paintings created from rice-paper that the artist painted with ink or colour. The painted paper is then folded and mounted on canvas. The depicted shapes recall calligraphic or pictorial fragments. These folded, book-like objects represent a sort of diary, and movement, rhythm and colours convey the mood of a moment or the atmosphere of a situation. Shi Qi’s ink drawings and gouaches are inspired by everyday experiences, too. In these intimate drawings she uses the repetition of figures and motifs not only to familiarise herself with a certain subject and process, but also to liberate herself from all kinds of restraints. Painted with an immediate and laconic gesture, these works speak of the search for a free and detached expression. Further, similar to a litany or buddhist prayer, the repetition aims at transcendance.

After studying in the department of experimental painting at the Chinese Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou (1997-2001), Shi Qi moved to France in 2002, where she continued a training in new media and video at the Paris-Cergy School of Fine Arts (2002-2005).

Text by Martina Köppel-Yang

[1] François Cheng, La vraie gloire est ici, Gallimard, 2015, p.131

Martina Köppel-Yang

Dr. Martina Köppel-Yang is an independent scholar and curator specializing in contemporary Chinese art since the mid-1980s. She has authored extensive works on the subject, including her noteworthy Ph.D. thesis, ‘Semiotic Warfare – The Chinese Avant-garde 1979 – 1989: A Semiotic Analysis’ (Hong Kong: timezone 8, 2003), which has become a reference book on Chinese art from the 1980s. Additionally, she serves as a member of the advisory board of Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong. 

Joseph CUI

Joseph Cui, director of espace temps, curator and art critics. Specialized in Chinese artists in France. He holds degrees in philosophy from the Ecole des Bernardins and in Comparative Literature from Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris III. With a background of dedicated researcher, his focus holds within study consists of a whole century of Chinese artists in France, spanning from the beginning of the 20th to the actual generation. As a close associate of François Cheng, he has initialed to build up an archive of Chinese artists in France and to analyze the transcultural phenomenon of their artistic creations.