Prada presents 'Rear Windows', an exhibition by Li Qing at Prada Rong Zhai in Shanghai

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Prada presents 'Rear Windows', an exhibition by Li Qing at Prada Rong Zhai in Shanghai
Exhibition view of “Rear Windows” by Li Qing Prada Rong Zhai 7 November 2019 - 19 January 2020. Photo: Jacky Zhang from Z-Vision. Courtesy Prada.

SHANGHAI.- Prada presents “Rear Windows”, a new exhibition project by artist Li Qing, with the support of Fondazione Prada. Curated by Jérôme Sans, the show is on view from 7 November 2019 to 19 January 2020 in the premises of Prada Rong Zhai, a 1918 historical residence in Shanghai restored by Prada and reopened in October 2017.

“Rear Windows” is an immersive and collaborative project conceived on site by the artist Li Qing and the curator as a specific storyboard, an in-depth exploration of the history and the space of Prada Rong Zhai, creating a connection between the past times and the current urban environment of Shanghai.

Prada Rong Zhai can be considered as a palimpsest of Shanghai's century-old history. Before being restored to become a place dedicated to cultural activities, the building was the private residence of a successful entrepreneur, Mr Rong Zongjing, and then a public property after socialization. Li Qing imagines the building as a space still used by its residents or their contemporary ghosts. The artist recreates imaginary visions of key rooms, like the ballroom, the bedroom, the bathroom, and a karaoke room, where the presence of the former inhabitants is suggested through artistic gestures. The decision of re-occupying the vacant spaces generates a strange and cinematographic atmosphere, evoking the duality of our present lives, divided between authenticity and imitation, reality and reproduction.

“Rear Windows”—inspired by the eponymous 1954 movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock— is devised as a succession of climatic scenes to experience the act of seeing and of being seen or observed. Through some of his emblematic works like Neighbor’s Window and Tetris Window series, Li Qing suggests references to the city of Shanghai (or even Hangzhou, where the artist lives), where old and new buildings, different social groups, urban myths, legends and expectations coexist.

The exhibits also comprise new works and commissions like a neon sign installed on the external façade of Prada Rong Zhai, a cabin tent on view in its garden, a sound installation especially realized for the corridor of the first floor, and nine carpets printed with pictures of tiles patterns laid on the ballroom floor. The display is completed by a selection of recent paintings part of Find Differences series, video installations such as Neon News and paintings from the series Images of Mutual Undoing and Unity, that act like invitations to question our relationship to the moving world around us.

Jérôme Sans describes the exhibition, “as a narrative story conceived through a wide range of Li Qing’s past and recent works, unfolding as in a movie set of a film whose action is about to happen. Li Qing initiates here a new form of poetry in Prada Rong Zhai, one which belongs to an imaginary society and that lives in its past dreams, but also within his own work of today, continually questioning: how to be closer to the reality of things?”

Li Qing was born in 1981 in Hangzhou, and currently lives and works between Hangzhou and Shanghai. His practice focuses on mass consumerism and society’s hypocritical stances on ideals of beauty through various painting and multimedia techniques. In his later photography, video and installation works, the artist deals with several eternal themes or philosophical concepts, such as presenting subjects and humanity within their current social development context where they express their feelings of anxiety often felt in our contemporary society. An installation series Neighbor’s Window borrows the trompe-l'œil technique, combining old wooden window frames with the paintings of French and other colonial or new architecture behind glass, becoming cultural and artistic landmarks of the Shanghai urban space now. His solo shows have been presented in galleries and museums such as Tomás y Valiente Art Centre, Madrid; The Orient Foundation, Macao; Goethe Institute, Shanghai; and Arario Museum, Seoul. He has also participated in a number of significant group shows in important institutions, such as the 9th Shanghai Biennale, the 55th Venice Art Biennale, Institut Valencia d’Art Modern (IVAM), Seoul Museum of Art; National Gallery of Indonesia in Jakarta, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, São Paulo Museum of Contemporary Art, and Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

Jérôme Sans is an internationally renowned art critic, curator, and institutional director. He was co-founder and co-director of the Palais de Tokyo, Paris from 2000 until 2006, former director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing (UCCA) from 2008 to 2012. Most recently, he was appointed as artistic director of the Emerige contemporary art foundation, Île Seguin, Paris. Sans has curated numerous major exhibitions, including the Taipei Biennial (2000), the Lyon Biennial (2005) and Nuit Blanche in Paris (2006), among others.

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