Li Yongbin, Wang Jianwei

Paleis voor Schone Kunsten / Palais des Beaux-Arts

27 april/avril/april - 18 juni/juin/june
Dinsdag tot zondag/Mardi au dimanche/Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 - 18:00

A meeting in Peking has led to a double project being created for Brussels. Wang Jianwei wanted to write for theatre and has now created Ping Feng, produced by the KunstenFESTIVALdesArts. The Palais des Beaux-Arts has decided to put this project into context by showing two of the poetic documentaries by this visual artist, Production and Living Elsewhere, also inviting installations by a young Chinese video director, Li Yongbin, who is close to Wang Jianwei. Li works on the constant metamorphosis of the mirror of the soul: the face. All named Faces - yet far from narcissistic - his installations subtly question time and identity.

Productie/Production: Vereniging voor Tentoonstellingen van het Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, Brussel/Société des Expositions du Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles

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Expressionistic trends feature strongly in contemporary Chinese work - performances during which artists harm their own bodies, paintings where the artist works with a thick paste. Flesh is always present, sometimes disturbingly so. At the same time, there has been a rapid development in China for some years now in contemporary forms of expression and an explosion in works of sophisticated technology, aided and encouraged by contacts with those in the profession in the West.

In this context, Li Yongbin's work seems to be marked by great restraint and exceptionally limited means. He uses video very simply, mostly in static shots, and without editing or manipulation of any sort. A few years ago he projected a transparency in the dark, onto the leaves of a tree opposite his window, showing the face of his mother who had recently died. Before sunrise the image disappeared, absorbed and dispersed by the light. The video recorded this and nothing else. It was the presence of an image in a landscape lacking any colour and the time taken for it to disappear. It was a work of extreme simplicity and great poetry.

Since 1996, all of Li Yongbin's work has borne the same title: Face. It is always the same face, that of the artist. It can be seen appearing and disappearing or metamorphosing without the help of special effects. The processes are simple - a reflection in a bowl of liquid that is stirred, two superimposed images that move apart slightly, a window that, depending on the light, opens onto the outside world or becomes a mirror. It is not a question of narcissism. All that can be seen are reflections of Li Yongbin's face, images that time transforms and that constantly elude us. They are mysterious and sometimes agonising images in which the face becomes monstrous. Using very simple means, Li Yongbin confronts us with the question of time and identity.

For his exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Li Yongbin presents his series of Faces with large video projections on screens. They are images suspended in a space, the configuration of which, for him, evokes the human body.

At the same time as Li Yongbin's exhibition, Wang Jianwei's film Production will also be showing at the Palais des Beaux-Arts. A combination of a documentary and a poetic film, Production plunges us into the world of tea houses where men meet to drink, gamble and talk. The conversations rattle along, informing us, often elliptically, about contemporary Chinese society and its evolution.

The film Wang Jianwei has just finished, Living Elsewhere, is about peasants who have left the country to try to earn a living in the city. Filmed in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, Living Elsewhere portrays four unconventional characters from different regions of China who try to survive despite being unemployed and uprooted, discovering new ways of living in the outskirts of the city.

These two films will be an opportunity to show the diversity of Wang Jianwei's work. He is also directing Ping Feng, his first theatrical production, for the KunstenFESTIVALdesArts.

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