Dans le ventre du pigeon, il y a non seulement du caca, mais du pain aussi
« Paris is too clean », said the artist with a bitter smile, “too clean for my art”.
It was the second day during his artistic residence in Paris. In four weeks, he will have to finish the preparation of his first solo exhibition in Galerie Liusa Wang, creating a world filled with imagination and fantasies, from the scratch completely.
The artist is called Tong Kunniao, born in 1990 and graduated from sculpture department of China Central Academy of Fine Arts, has become one of the most distinguished emerging contemporary artists. While the memory of “lines of pig tales striking drums” that he exhibited at his graduation show is still vividly rooted in our minds, the artist had already left for a new start which he called as “dream of earth”, a nomadic dream that can let him discover new horizons freely – all alone, without baggage, like a wandering pigeon making nest out of nothing.
In each city, he digs in every chunk of sundries and garbage, goes to all the flea market, picks second hand objects, used toys and old furniture to find out the spirit of the city. All of his “cosmopolitan” exhibitions rooted profoundly in the city where he lives, happens little stories, rumors, emotions in a high speed in this urban area. His art was already being appreciated in Beijing, Shanghai, Bucharest and Los Angeles, and will be shown in Germany or Africa shortly. And now, it’s Paris time.
For Tong Kunniao, however, Paris is his difficulty. She is too stable, precise and bourgeois; with too little expression leaked from her indifferent face. Nevertheless, a weird mask discovered in Montreuil market, the administrative forms from the corner of police station, a plastic trident abandoned by a girl after her birthday, Paris began to be revealed little by little. The artist rows out the little anecdotes and souvenirs of the city, digesting out the latent state – the anxiety of post terrorist attack, the bloody drama started by a pair of scissors and the difficult that the artist encountered ever since he came to Paris – all integrated sublimely in his “theatre of cruelty” composed by debris of Paris, on scene, sometimes an exhilarating destruction, sometimes a pretty collage, and sometimes an ironic reconstitution of cultural symbols issued by our fetishist era.
But why? Why putting those Easter eggs in champagne glass? Why that feather keeps poking a naked hip of a comedic figure? Why attaching those forms filled by cigarettes, crumbs and graffiti to the wall? His absurd and extravagant installations are gradually forming in progress keep provoking the nerve of passengers, inspiring tons of questions and interpretations. Some of them deduce a satire attitude against the consuming society and the fight of an anarchist, some of others see an apocalyptic future world from his art dominated by the machines or a reincarnation of Dadaism and surrealism; some find a nostalgic memory of childhood reconstitute by a black humor while some realize a politic or libidinal hint.
But why not ? Before launching a whole grand possible narration, the artist rather defends himself with an iconoclastic pleasure. Hi art is not justified because of any attempt at justification which will sterilize his creation with a « bloody and contagious » joy. The visual signs that the artist put on suspension, on reverse and on dislocation amuse with the collective memory while pointing to the intimate memory of each audience.
When you receive this invitation, the world is set up – this “Pan’s labyrinth” at the end of Boulevard Saint-Germain, this Parisian impromptu to read then to destroy. A multitude mechanic installation and composing sounds, in a bewildered and fascinating way, a concert of time and materials, showing the bare caprice and free of this difficult city. This is where this “too clean” city – Paris begins to disarm, where you find your “why” with “why not”. If the famous pissoir signed by Duchamp set art free, a hundred years ago, the chain seems to be back the choke the throat of contemporary art, while Tong Kunniao, swear to us by the ancient toilet that he found in a flea market of Croissy-sur-Seine:
The night is still young, come and have fun!