May 9, 2017

Jennifer Wen Ma @ Sandra Gering Inc, New York

Jennifer Wen Ma: Eight Views of Paradise Interrupted
Sandra Gering Inc, New York
May 11 - July 28, 2017 

Fusing aspects of traditional Chinese art with a distinctly contemporary approach, Jennifer Wen Ma creates delicate, ephemeral installations out of paper, ink, glass and light. For this exhibition, the artist presents an environment of new works borrowing from the traditional Chinese literati landscape painting trope of Eight Views of Xiaoxiang. This contemporary homage meditates on the mental landscape that yielded the artist’s concept for the acclaimed installation opera Paradise Interrupted, exploring the utopian idea of ‘paradise’. Originally presented at the Lincoln Center Festival last summer, the opera was the artist’s directorial debut, and combined Jennifer Wen Ma’s innovative set designs with her co-written libretto and a contemporary composition in the traditional kunqu vocal singing style with western operatic voice. 

Eight Views features some of Jennifer Wen Ma’s best-known iconography: her unconventional use of ink and her multifaceted use of the garden as metaphor. Her incorporation of time as material is also significant, whether expressed through performance, narrative, or the movement of light, air and liquid. Upon entering the low-lit exhibition, the viewer is enveloped by the show’s two signature works. One is a multi-layered 43-foot long scroll-like landscape painting on translucent acrylic, which is set off from the wall to create shadows from light projections across its surface. Composed of many individual panels that surround three walls, it is designed to flow together to offer a panoramic view. The nuanced painting, as subtle and mystical as its predecessors, speaks of the artist’s contribution to both Eastern and Western artistic discourse. In the center of the room, a striking large-scale floor sculpture of a black paper garden folds out accordion-style from nothingness to a fully realized garden, tight and controlled in places and wild and unruly in others. Based the opera set design, the garden also references the live gardens and plants worldwide that the artist has painted with Chinese ink. 

Jennifer Wen Ma is also known for her extensive multimedia endeavors, from the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony to the permanent interactive artwork on the “Water Cube” in Beijing that reflects the resident’s daily emotions through abstract light, color and movement. Earlier pieces also on view include Brain Storm, 2009, the first of several videos using ink on glass as a medium, and the mirror-surfaced Dodo with 100 Meeps Walking in the Desert in Five Movements, 2011.

Eight Views of Paradise Interrupted brings these elements together in a formally beautiful, conceptually complex and historically rich installation. 

Concurrently, the artist will be exhibiting a related project at Van Doren Waxter, 23 East 73rd Street, NY.

Jennifer Wen Ma has exhibited widely since 1993. In addition to Lincoln Center, solo projects, installations and exhibitions include the Cass Sculpture Foundation, Sussex, England, The Guggenheim Museum, NY, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, the Qatar Museums, Doha, Qatar, the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts, Taiwan, Performa 13, NY, the National Art Museum of China, Beijing, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., the Market Square Public Art Program, Pittsburgh, PA, the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC and the Echigo-Tsumari Triennial, Niigata, Japan, the Singapore Biennial and the Sydney Biennale, among others. Jennifer Wen Ma’s work on the opening & closing ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics earned the artist an Emmy in 2008. Jennifer Wen Ma lives in New York & Beijing.

14 East 63rd Street, New York, NY 10065