Vital Points, Meridians, Inversion

     The force emanating from a culture was often born of cultural and historical confrontation. Now that contradiction is leavening art to new heights, the new experience of beauty in a postmodern environment must relate strongly to human existence. In so doing, it can partake of the rules of play of language. Under the thrust of our constantly evolving postmodern society, today's painting no longer critiques beauty, as it once did. Differentiation and confrontation of civilizations, fusion and conquest of cultures, legalization of the logic of the absurd — these are the defining traits of the world in which we live.

     Discovery of these traits is a phenomenon of postmodern painting which uses language and artistic devices to infuse the contemporary Chinese artistic movement. Much of today's painting portrays extraordinary confrontations of the absurd, incongruous, impertinent and vulgar as found in both the modern era and Chinese cultural history. The traits of beauty presented in these works tranquilly offer us another reading of the new culture.

     Jianbing Nie the painter is a maker and innovator of this culture. Using flawless painting techniques, he ceaselessly adds the vital points of ancient Chinese acupuncture to traditional drawing or widely recognized images. He uses words and mysterious points to adorn works by other artists. Through this extraordinary, unprecedented approach, he is able to show the irreconcilable contradictions and fateful union between China and the West, science and superstition, modern and ancient, subjective and objective, self and the world. His paintings masterfully reveal inconsistencies and absurd contrasts. This visual orientation sets the spectator pondering humanitarian values and lends these works a certain charm hidden behind that distant culture and its historic break.

     Starting April 8, the Han Art Gallery will be showing the third series of "meridian" paintings by Jianbing Nie, who recently moved to Montreal after living and working in France for many years. The wide-ranging works of Nie includes portraits of members of the Qing imperial family, famous religious images from the Renaissance, and contemporary Chinese or Western political portraits. Through his magical touches and vital acupuncture points applied to faces, he conjoins two opposing elements – at first glance irreconcilable – and thereby dramatically extends his paintings into the mysterious and elusive. This combination of the two elements forms his artistic language and innovative devices. Absurdity is pushed to the outermost limits.

     Like every artist of this generation's modern Chinese artistic movement, Nie has deeply sensed the urgency of change. Still, his tireless quest for beauty has not overcome cultural contradiction and soul-searching. Together, conjunction and confrontation justify the need for, and feasibility of, Nie's signature works in an artistic world of such deep mystery.


Andrew Lui