Artist: Liao Fei
‘Liao Fei: Physics Temple’, a joint presentation by Vanguard Gallery and Tihho Art Space, will be on view from June 3 through August 12 at the two gallery spaces, featuring a series of sculptures and the artist’s signature paper-based works. ‘Physics Temple’ showcases Liao Fei’s latest investigation on Buddhist objects and rituals during his residency in Tibet at the invitation of Tihho in 2022. This exhibition continues with his long-term practice based on the substance of material, and revolves around everyday objects that could be interpreted as portals into the world of metaphysics.
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‘Physics Temple’ consists of two intertwined chapters. The sculpture series ‘Chiral Extent’, exhibited at Vanguard Gallery, is a formal experiment inspired by gestural communication both in the spiritual realm and among scientific research: in Buddhist art and practice, a variety of hand gestures termed ‘mudra’ are employed to convey specific ritual connotations; while in modern science, handedness, denominated as left or right ‘chirality’, defines an asymmetrical object which cannot be superimposed onto its mirror image. In either case, the use of hands has facilitated human conception of existences far beyond cognition. Liao Fei demonstrates his conceptual principle by showcasing variations of hand constructions following a deductive sequence, unveiling metaphysical temperament contained in everyday materials; The other series ‘Circle Grant’ displayed at Vanguard also takes ‘left-hand’ and ‘right-hand’ as the base variables, folding rectangular sheets in half to produce a multitude of circles through varying combinations of left and right cuts. These cut patterns mirror conventional Tibetan designs that merge straight lines and circles in an alternate fashion.
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The intersection of spiritual ideas and everyday life extends to Tihho Art Space, where origami pieces titled ‘Partially Obscured Circles’, encompass equally sized square sheets of paper with silver acrylic circles folded and rotated according to microscopic combination rules. Through the dimension-transforming folding process, an abstract pattern becomes apparent, suggesting a divine revelation; Along with this series is ‘Intersection’, which extracts overlapped areas of Chinese characters suggesting the secular name of Buddha ‘Siddhartha’ and his three bodies ‘Shakyamuni’, ‘Locanabuddha’, and ‘Vairocana’; The ’30 Types of Color’ series, in like manner, showcases the variations of the same color in display when printed or projected on varied media. Colors of the same code are printed on a range of paper materials, emphasizing the subtle differences that create a unique and fleeting experience for viewers when passing by.
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Words, colors, geometric shapes, and hand gestures, as ordinary and concrete as they might seem, are proof of the human being’s never-ending effort in envisaging a world beyond the horizon or within ourselves. Liao manages to manifest intricate shapes out of mere geometric elements which resemble inexplicable or spiritual relics found on various religious sites. All while delving into these broader concepts, Liao’s creation begins with the mundane. Through various schools of scientific and mathematical thinking, Liao delves into the deeper aspects of everyday objects, unveiling their inherent metaphysical imageries.
ABOUT THE ARTIST | Liao Fei
Liao Fei explores the relationship and tension in materials in his works between reality and geometry, between cognition
and mysticism, between duality and simplification. Following the kernel of “material”, the creation of Liao Fei has always been alert to the rule itself and its consequent “truth”, aspiring to approximate the essence of the material in a more practical approach. While drawing attention to the broader concepts related to these relationships, his works also reveal the metaphysical temperament contained in everyday materials. Consequent to Liao Fei’s multifaceted lens, material forms that are generally imperceptible or habitually disregarded manage to gain visibility, providing thus stage for original insight of human cognitive construction and operation.
Liao Fei was born in Jiangxi in 1981. He graduated from Shanghai Normal University in 2006. He is now based in Shanghai. His recent solo exhibitions include: “Physics temple”, Vanguard Gallery x Tihho Art Space, Shanghai, China; Art Basel Hong Kong solo project at Vanguard booth, Hong Kong, China (2023); “Depiction”, The Cloister Project, Shanghai, China (2021—2022); “Is everything a contingent occurence”, OCAT Shanghai, China (2021); “Res Extensa”, Vanguard Gallery X O Art Center, Shanghai, China (2018); “Plain”, Shanghai Museum of Glass, Shanghai, China (2016); “Perspective”, YveYang Gallery, Boston, USA (2016); “The Equater”, Vanguard Gallery, Shanghai, China (2016). He also participated in the following group exhibitions: “A Journey of Love and Memory”，Being Art Museum, Shanghai, China (2022—2023); “Being Theoria: 4th Hangzhou Triennial of Fiber Art”, Zhejiang Art Muesuem, Zhejiang, China (2022); “Warehouse Story VIII — On Your Mark!”, Vanguard Gallery, Shanghai, China (2022); “Silent Thunder”, UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China (2021); “Dis-/Continuing Traditions: Contemporary Video Art from China”, Salamanca Arts Centre, Stamania, Australia (2021); “The C”, Tank Shanghai, Shanghai, China (2020); “ANNEALING”, Shanghai Museum of Glass, China (2020); “In the Open or in Stealth—The Unruly Presence of an Intimate Future”, MACBA Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain (2018); “Botanic Project, Busan Museum of Art”, Busan, Korea (2018); “Frontier:Re-assessment of Post-Globlisational Politics”, OCAT Institute, Beijing, China (2018); “The 5th Huayu Youth Award”, Huayu Art Center, Sanya, China (2017); “Today’s Yesterday—Anren Biennial”, OCAT, Chengdu, China (2017); “The New Normal: China, Art, and 2017”, UCCA, Beijing, China (2017); “Why Not Ask Again: Arguments, Counter-arguments, and Stories”, The 11th Shanghai Biennale, Power Station of Art, China (2016–2017).