Four Seasons: Ren Rong Press Release
Aug 13 - Sep 05, 2016

Press Release

Whitebox Art Center  is pleased to present its new edition of public art project, Four Seasons · Ren Rong opening on August 13, at 4pm. This project is curated by Dr. TayfunBelgin and Prof. H. Mache in collaboration with the vice principal of the Tsinghua Art Academy, Su Dan. Whitebox public art project is devoted to challenge existing modes of exhibiting art, that aims to bring together art and the public in its presentation of an aesthetic experience in newly conceived spaces. Four Seasons · Ren Rong is the upcoming edition of large-scale public art project since its previous manifestations, the “The Luxury of Taoyuan” held in Sanya in February 2016 and “Shine · view” held by the Tainjin International Design Week in May 2016. 


Unlike Ren Rong’sprimitive motifs cutout from corroded golden steel plates, works in this exhibition were de-rusted, polished and spray-painted. Each piece has taken on vibrant colors as the color spectrum of a rainbow after the storm. While compositionally, the works break away from the usual vertical rectangle format, vary in dimensions, are concise and fluid with a dynamic disposition. In the exhibition venue, the rolls and swells of the sand will be laid on the ground floor of the art Center, over 60 pieces of artist Ren Rong’s most recent works will be scattered throughout the desolate “desert” as sprouting spring bamboo shoots after the rain. Their different shapes and colors consist of the “natural landscape” of the secret garden. Every piece resembles to a “tree of life”, exemplifying strong vitality, as it is rooted deeply in the sand. Looking at each work in details, among the hollow motifs, one can discover the entire human civilization, cultures from Assyrian to Mayan to Egyptian, from Indian to Germania to the Chinese “Classics of Mountains and Seas”; from ancient seal script to the various symbols of currencies, as well as a number of enigmatic religious symbols; furthermore, the positioning of the various figures, flora and fauna, unknown beings has been deliberately and meticulously tied together in the most appropriate and logical fashion. Like the writing of Chinese calligraphy, Ren Rong’s works embody an integral between the essence of traditional Chinese calligraphy and the compositional foundation of western sculpture. The dimly lit spotlights point at those viewers traversing through the works of art as they tower in the sand of the exhibition space. This light is then deflected onto the exhibition walls. The movement binds with stillness, shifting swiftly, as if one has entered the Garden of Eden. 


This exhibition will also present Ren Rong’s recent series of “ink rubbings”. By appropriating ancient Chinese traditional approach, his rubbing of the sculptures are done in five shades of the ink; moreover, the “carved out” pieces from the steel sheets are reassembled into “abstract sculptures” that resonate with the figurative composition. The images are then pounded and rubbed onto rice paper, these methods complete the transformation of sculpture onto paper, as well as a transition from the rigid steel to the soft paper, the space of exploration brought by the malleability of Ren Rong’s work stems henceforth from the tension of his artistic thinking.


The exhibition will continue until September 5th, 2016.


Ren Rong, is an acclaimed contemporary artist, whose works have participated in major exhibitions in China and internationally. They are collected by important art Centers and private collectors worldwide. Born in 1960 in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, Ren Rong studied at the Nanjing University of the Arts from 1982 – 1986, and from 1989-1992, he studied at the art academies in Munster and Dusseldorf, Germany where he received his M.F.A.  In 1993, he received the ministry of culture award from the state of Landes Schleswig-Holstein. In 2014, he co-founded the “Bonn Contemporary Art Center” in collaboration with Bonn Culture and Art Foundation. Ren Rong currently lives and works in Bonn, Germany and Beijing, China. 


Curator Article

Deified Rainbow


Is emotion an instinctive biological response or a logical representation of one’s life experiences? Unknowingly, it is nevertheless the drive forprocreation, both in animals and plants. In the contrary, procreation is the ultimate goal for all living beings. Passion pushes life forward, and life creates passion, the cycle between the two generates an infinite ring of energy thattranspires in all the life phenomena. Over the last twenty years, artist Ren Rong, who traveled and lived in Germany, have been unveiling such secrets through his works of art. InRen Rong’s past practice, whether the images depicted or cutouts, Ren have projected a liberal, free state of life, the figures that integrate plants with the human body embody an infinite sense of romance manifested in the most graceful configurations. Furthermore, the artist has adopted a personified approach in representing the intimacy and deep affection of the plants, pining, in amorous passion and nurturing each other. In his images, male and female, man and woman, the roots of yin and yangare associated with the reproductive organs that transform into unaffected flowers and fruitful branches. They are willful, appealing, attractive and entwined with each other.


Although the construct of basic forms may have a tremendous impact on the quality of the artwork, techniques often solve the issue of installation in a physical space. There are multiple technical possibilities for the same subject matter, the passing of time affects one’s choices, and the transformations as a result of one’s choices manifest the artist’s ability of translating originality. Therefore, an outstanding artist in the course of his/her artistic practice, would constantly change his/her means of representation, like the slow revolutionary process of a work of art, who would always present new possibilities to the viewers on his central subject matter.


With regards to fabrication, Ren Rong’s art practice has adopted three extreme approaches in the past. One of which was his ideas, drawings and cutouts on paper, that can be considered as an initial phase of these vivid icons. The artist portrayed the ethereal configurations of the wild plants and figures in watercolor on paper, then framed these works into research samples; second of which was his audacious works on metal plates, with the help of his assistant, the artist cut out the images he had preconceived on paper onto metal plates measuring a few inches in thickness that were eventually placed in the public. They are like the newborns that towers between heaven and earth, proclaiming the truth in their lament; recently, Ren Rong endeavors in a different kind of experiment. He abruptly eliminates the primitive and crude quality of the material, in order to discover a new path in his expression. He refines the surficial texture of those heavy metals, and then coats them with a layer of vibrant paint. This “kitsch” execution brings out an apparent Songzhuang influence, which banters, satirizes the solemn proclamation. However, as these works are displayed in series and groups, we’d see a stretch of beautiful rainbow that transcend previous grand narrative on the ground. From the making of its DNA to becoming an embryo, to the visualization of sprawling and beautiful rainbows, this becomes the principle of creation process and evolution, kitsch yet unconventional, attaining a realm, manifesting the artist’s outstanding compositional abilities.


Ren Rong’s works often remind me of the sacred plants of the Classics of Mountains and Seas, visually speaking, they seem less enigmatic and strange, but more mad and earnest. The artist aims to praise nature and life through these original beings. The transformation of his work represents the natural principles of growth, this is not only apparent in watercolor, paper cuts and metal sculptures, to the subject and personality conveyed and reincarnated in the rainbow series, it also includes the oxidization of the metal surface in natural conditions. If we were to categorize according to the subject, as watercolor and papercut are listed under the paper series, then the latter two should be “metal works”. The comparison of these two categories, the former serves as the blueprint, with a disposition of free will; whereas the latter embodies a sense of fabrication and production, as it executes the rules, a unique ways of drawing conclusions to a creative phase. In the relationship between the two, paper works proceed the metal work, and the latter is an upgrade and translation of the former. Those works on paper required attentive care, like a fertilized egg, whereas the metal work is the final work of art as it towers between heave and earth, weathering all natural elements, transforms with the passing of time.


This exhibition will present Ren Rong’s recent works of rubbings and Rainbow series, bearing witness to the conceptual and methodological transformation of the artist’s practice. In my view, the rubbing series is a new textual chronology and affirmation. And the emergence of the Rainbow series is not a conclusion, but an elegant reconfiguration, a new beginning, bridging the present to the future. 


    Ren Rong

Installation View


Media Report