Orange County Museum of Art unveils two new installations as part of its Pacific Initiative
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Orange County Museum of Art unveils two new installations as part of its Pacific Initiative
Zheng Chongbin, Casted Drawing B (2013); ink and acrylic on Xuan paper. Promised gift to OCMA from RH, Restoration Hardware. © Zheng Chongbin.

NEWPORT BEACH, CA.- As part of the museum’s Pacific Initiative, on August 6 the Orange County Museum of Art unveiled artworks by Li Hui of Beijing and Zheng Chongbin who is based in Shanghai and San Francisco. Developed to highlight contemporary art being produced throughout the Pacific Rim, the Pacific Initiative addresses the diverse ethnic backgrounds of the Southern California population and that those creating art so often have roots in or ties to countries around the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific Initiative also acknowledges the porous nature of contemporary art, as trends and movements flow beyond our borders and back again. The two exhibitions, Li Hui: V and The Pacific Project: Zheng Chongbin are on view August 6 through December 4, 2016.

Li Hui: V
Beijing-based multimedia pioneer, Li Hui (b. Beijing, China 1977) has established himself as one of the key members of the new generation of young Chinese artists, and his innovative installations are recognizable worldwide. Li Hui merges industrial materials with technology, producing evocative sculptures and installations through which he explores the uneasy balance between nature and the manmade, and the destructive potential within creation.

Born in Beijing in 1977, Li graduated from Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in 2003 and has enjoyed critical attention for the last decade. His work performs at the intersection of light, sculpture, and installation. His concerns are those of spirituality, life’s big questions, and immateriality, and his immersive installations transport the viewer from a mere observer to a vital player in the shaping of the experiences.

In his signature work V, Li creates the eponymous feature, the “V”, out of declining and ascending laser beams. As the artist described it, “to me, this shape depicts my imagination of eternity: the bombardment of two energies can create an ever more powerful force.” Laser beams are assisted by fog to produce effects that are simply meditative. An interest in Buddhism can be seen to correspond to the transitional nature of the environment that is constantly in flux due to the changing nature resulting from the light, the reflections, and fog.

The artist himself believes that visual art is a much more direct form of communication than language, and fills in the gaps where language cannot suffice.

“To be honest, I don't think art can ever be fully explained in words. According to ancient Chinese Chan (Zen) Buddhism, when two kinds of energies collide, a new energy emerges. This new energy is unidentified, just like the feeling visitors have when they see my works: it can't be expressed in words. I am always searching for those two different kinds of energies that can express my emotions and my understanding of the world.”

Li’s work is included in many international collections, including Yuz Foundation in Indonesia, the Cherryl and Frank Cohen Collection in England, the Baron Guy and Myriam Ullens Foundation Collection, and the Hong Kong Museum of Art. Of the three editions of V, OCMA’s is the only edition to be held by a collection in the United States.

The Pacific Project: Zheng Chongbin
The fourth installment of The Pacific Project showcases a new video by artist Zheng Chongbin (b. 1961, Shanghai, China). In the video, Branches are Roots in the Sky (2016), the artist explores how we construct our knowledge of the world and its flows and changes through our perceptions of time, space, and surface. This premiere of Zheng’s video will be complemented by a second video, Chimeric Landscape (2015), and four of his ink paintings. While influenced by the significant heritage and impact of traditional ink painting on Chinese artists, Zheng’s goal is to make his works relevant for a 21st-century audience.

Born in Shanghai and currently splitting his time between San Francisco and Shanghai, artist Zheng Chongbin works in a variety of media that allows him to explore serious questions about the state of being, the natural world and the place of art within the broader concerns of philosophy. Educated in both China and California, the artist possesses sensibilities and embodies the cultural traditions of both communities. He has emerged as one of the key figures in the contemporary examination of traditional Chinese ink painting while infusing his works with the tenets of western abstraction, particularly revealing the influences of Abstract Expressionism and, closer to home, the California-based Light and Space movement.

In Chimeric Landscape (2015), Zheng Chongbin examines the nature of ink painting as both an historical construct and an actual physical medium. The video weaves arresting scenes of the pigment slowly moving around the surface, pooling and flowing, creating patterns reminiscent of landscape paintings. Tradition meets today in the materials, means of presentation, aesthetic and effect. He uses the mythical figure of the Chimera (a composite of many animals) as a metaphorical launching point for a study of transformation.

Premiering at OCMA is Zheng’s newest video work, Branches are Roots in the Sky (2016). Continuing his interest in states of being and the intersection of phenomenological concerns, this video draws inspiration from a tree trunk in a northern California forest. From this real world object, Zheng creates a work that looks at how we construct our knowledge of the world, its flows and its changes through our perceptions of time, space and surface. He suggests that time is an expression of natural processes (and not sequential experiences); space is to be experienced as continuous and limitless, yet always changing, moving, breathing, living; and surface is the physical dimension of an object and a boundary, a border, a living membrane that marks the transition between spaces.

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