Solo Exhibit by Chinese Photographer, Maelonn, at Art Next Gallery in NYC
Curator Ping Jie to present Maleonn’s Shanghai Legendary: A series of photographs examining the urban tectonics of a city shifting further into modernity and leaving behind its vulnerable past.
New York, NY, Feb. 26, 2009 – Chelsea’s newest gallery presence, Art Next Gallery, is pleased to present Shanghai-based artist Maleonn’s first New York City solo exhibit, Shanghai Legendary. Ping Jie, organizer of the Reel China Documentary Film Festival and the writer/producer of the award-winning 1997 documentary, Art in the Cultural Revolution, is the show’s curator. The opening reception will be held at the gallery on Friday, March 6, 2009, from 6pm to 8pm, with the exhibit running from March 3rd to April 2nd.
Initially trained as a painter and having made his mark in China’s commercial film industry as a cutting-edge director, Maleonn has turned to photography in recent years. His work incorporates both painterly composition and filmic manipulation, rendering magical—if not dramatic—images of otherwise private moments in daily life. Widely established in China, Maleonn is a rising star in other major Asian cities, North America, and Europe.
Shanghai Legendary offers an almost apparitional depiction of an old city, forlorn and lost, amidst the momentum of its cultural and architectural transformation. Maleonn has captured the deeper, if not timeless, soul of the city by focusing on its narrow streets—hutongs—and low-lying buildings rather than skyscrapers and wide avenues. The individuals in his photographs are youthful, but mournful, left behind in the wake of the awakening giant.
The pieces’ titles also speak to a lost innocence: Book of Taboo, Days on the Cotton Candy, and Unforgivable Children all seem to hint at the poetry of decay even in the bloom of youth. In the five-photo series, Postman, a man struggles to carry the weight of his rickety bicycle on his shoulder as he makes his way through a deteriorating neighborhood up to a troubling rooftop. Nostalgia shows a man supine on a barren field, wearing a broken pair of wings reminiscent of the mythological figure, Icarus, son of a carpenter who flew too close to the sun, only to melt his father’s handmade wings and fall back to Earth.
Though young people should be at the very pulse of cosmopolitan expansion, in Shanghai Legendary, they are the brokenhearted bystanders.