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Seeker of Hope: Works by Jia Aili

The exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum presents the artist’s personal reflections on post-millennium changes in China.

Seeker of Hope: Works by Jia Aili


July 6th, 2012

The feverish pace at which the socioeconomic landscape of China has changed in the last few decades is markedly reflected in the works of the country’s younger generation of creatives and artists.

In “Seeker of Hope”, currently being exhibited at the Singapore Art Museum, 33-year-old Beijing-based artist Jia Aili contemplates the country’s social and cultural transformation through a series of 50 artworks, including epic-scale oil paintings, video installations and delicate paper works.

Singapore Art Museum

Untitled (2012), oil on canvas

Jia conveys through his paintings his experience as a young Chinese growing up in the ‘80s, grappling not with political baggage, but with occasional feelings of loneliness and solitude.

Singapore Art Museum

Serbonian Bog (2007), oil on canvas

Coming from a generation of Chinese artists steeped in Western art history, Jia draws from classical Western painting methods to produce artworks that layer concepts of world art history with the history and experiences in modern China in which the people of his generation have to navigate.

Singapore Art Museum

Untitled (2008), oil on canvas & mixed media

In a seductive visual style, Jia explore themes and ideas on Romanticism; the power of nature; technological and scientific advancements; human mortality and death; the costs of industrialisation and the human condition.

Singapore Art Museum

Untitled (2011), oil on canvas

To Jia, his generation is ill at ease with their time, concerned about the consequences of progress and the march of modernity. In “The Wasteland” (2007), for example, the desolate scene is inspired by the decline of the Tiexi district in Shenyang, where millions were made jobless in the late ‘80s and ‘90s while he was still an art student.

Singapore Art Museum

Untitled (2010-2012), oil on canvas

And in his “Untitled” series of paintings – featuring astronauts, gas marks and bombs – Jia revisits historical events such as the introduction of China’s first atomic bomb, China’s first satellite and more recently, the Fukushima disaster. The works convey the artist’s sense of wonder and fascination with the fruits and possibilities of technological progress. At the same time, the presence of figures protected by gas masks or helmets in his works is a cautionary note about the ever-present possibility of the decay of humanity and materialism; Jia looks to the solitary astronauts as beacons of hope, leading our search for a brighter future.

Presented by the Singapore Art Museum and Credit Suisse, Seeker of Hope: Works by Jia Aili runs from 6 July – 23 September 2012 at the Singapore Art Museum. Also held in parallel is an exhibition titled Lyrical Abstraction: Works by Singaporeans Jeremy Sharma & Yeo Shih Yun.

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