Sean Kelly is pleased to announce The Time Vivarium, an exhibition in two stages by Chinese artist Sun Xun. This will be the artist’s first exhibition at the gallery and his first solo exhibition in New York since 2009. An opening reception will take place on Friday, December 12th from 6 to 8 p.m. The artist will be present.
In the first phase of the exhibition, Sun Xun will display a new series of richly colored, dynamic large-scale paintings, murals and a painted Chinese folding album. Throughout the month of December, the artist and his assistants will be in residence at the gallery creating new work — murals, drawings and paintings — that will transform and extend the initial exhibition. During this time, visitors will have a rare behind-the-scenes opportunity to experience the daily activities of the artist and his transplanted animation studio developing a new film work in progress. Questions and dialogue with the artist will be encouraged.
Drawing on his father’s recollections of living through China’s Cultural Revolution, his own experiences as a modern Chinese citizen and his interactions with people during the show, Sun Xun hopes visitors to the exhibition will discover a different point of view regarding China’s complex history. The concept grew out of Sun Xun’s preoccupation with global history, culture and politics. He is especially interested in the way historical events are perceived and remembered by ordinary citizens versus how they are officially presented by public agencies and the media. Sun Xun’s work addresses these ideas in a symbolic and surrealist way, often choosing to use animals and insects as the main characters of the story instead of people.
The title, The Time Vivarium, was inspired by a recent visit to the American Museum of Natural History’s exhibition halls. Sun Xun was struck by the idea that official Chinese accounts of the past have many parallels to the dioramas in the Natural History Museum. The exhibits, like state history, are designed with a socio-political agenda, heavily influencing notions of cultural identity. Unlike the dioramas in the museum, The Time Vivarium will by definition be “a place of life”.
The work Sun Xun will make whilst in the gallery, combined with thousands of images produced in the six months prior, will be filmed sequentially — culminating in an expressionistic, stop-motion animated film, pulsating with creative energy. On completion of the film in early January, the second phase of the exhibition will begin with a complete reinstallation of the galleries transforming it into a theater space. The film will simultaneously be shown through four synchronized projectors onto the main gallery walls and will fill the space with an extraordinary sensorium of color, light, music and sound. The newly created artworks and the film will be on view through January 24.