Canvas: Decade of the Rabbit at White Rabbit Gallery

March 29th 2011

It has been ten years since we all held our breath to bring in the millennium. Despite conspiracy, the world did not come to an end. Instead it started to move and shake with an unpredictable pace.

Decade of the Rabbit, White Rabbit Gallery’s fourth exhibition, marks the tenth birthday of this phenomenal private collection. Each piece reveals the desires, development and change in China over the first ten years of the 21st century.

The three levels of works by thirty artists, engage the audience in visually mesmerising personal and historical experiences, all created with obscure technique, heart and intimate dedication.

Decade of the Rabbit is not for the sleepy eyed. As you enter the first level, He An’s work, What Makes Me Understand What I Know, luminously spells out his name, his fathers name and a Japanese soft porn stars name. Using tacky light signs, stolen from the streets, the wall uncovers the artists unique relationship with the city, his family and lover. He constructs an alphabet of disconnected love, which flicked a memorable switch for me.

On the second level, violent animation screams at silent, disembodied dragon robs of deceased Emperors knitted out of paper. Possessed babies and skeletons take part in a disturbing disco ritual, which is definitely not suitable for any viewers feeling slightly out of sorts.

Most of the works hold such impact because of their large scale. A breathing mini van, that could accommodate a family inside, parks its inflated wheels a level below the deadly work by Shi Jindia titled Beijing Jeep’s Shadow. Jindia uncovers his skill of stiffening patience, presenting the skeleton of a Jeep chassis constructed out of stainless steel wire. Once restricted to the use of The Red Army and The Communist Party members, this Chinese icon of dominance and fear sits there empty, soulless and stripped of skin.

Thank goodness for Shi Zhiying’s overwhelmingly perfect ocean, which sedates you in waves of oil and paint. Titled High Seas, its scale and rhythm inspires a freedom and peacefulness, sensations much needed to balance out the provocative exhibition.

Another calming work was Zhou Jie’s cauliflower like city made out of porcelain and resting on a bed of rice. Planted on the top floor, this work communicates the hope of cities developing in good health.

What gets me every time I walk into White Rabbit is a sense of unusualness and uncertainty. Each work is sharp and resolved and speaks to you on a level that is challenging. Contemporary Chinese art of the past ten years is inherently different to anything you would find in Australia so make sure you don’t miss this refreshing experience.

Decade of the Rabbit is at White Rabbit Gallery, 30 Balfour Street, Chippendale


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