Following last year’s announcement of its global representation of Tu Hongtao, lovers of Chinese modern art will be pleased to know that Lévy Gorvy will present a solo exhibition of his key paintings from the past decade and a half.
Occupying the entire space of Lévy Gorvy’s Hong Kong gallery on the ground floor of St. George’s Building, the exhibition will showcase the development of Tu’s practice ranging from his early cityscapes to his recent works which synthesise Chinese and Western painting traditions. Boasting a selection of paintings loaned by museums as well as by important private collections from China and Hong Kong, the exhibition includes his earlier urban landscapes and the expressive abstractions that make up his current works.
With his academic background specialising in oil paintings from the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, Tu began his career during an era of rapid transformation in his country – one that saw the end of its collective economy and the rise of the market economy and globalisation. Observing the social and environmental changes in his hometown of Chengdu, he began to compose sardonic cityscapes featuring piles of human bodies and dolls that reflect contemporary feelings of confusion, tension, and desire. In addition to manifesting the anxieties of Tu’s generation, these early canvases established his ongoing engagement with cross-cultural histories of landscape painting, using the density of these landscapes as, in his own words, “both an abstract background and a real space”.
A highlight of the exhibition, — A Horse of All Things — takes its title from Daoist philosopher Zhuang Tzu’s aphorism that “everything passes like a galloping horse,” and demonstrates how Tu presents the concept of time in Chinese literature onto his canvas in a purely abstract expression. In fact, Tu has described his relationship with painting as “finding philosophical insights from traditional poetry”. Inspired by the landscape poems of ancient Chinese literati, these paintings constitute a unique view of the Chinese landscape, capturing poetic qualities and allowing time to be traced back within his works.
In addition to oil paintings, several works on paper will also be exhibited to outline Tu’s conceptual process as well as guide viewers to better understand of his aesthetic. The exhibition also features a short film directed by Taiwanese actor and film producer Wang Yu which provides insight into Tu’s creative process, personal background, and striking works of art. The exhibition is currently on view until June 30.