Imagine if all our cities were exactly the same. Nelson artist Lisa Chandler challenges the sameness of new spaces in global cities with a series of large scale paintings based on Beijing. The exhibition titled ‘China Dream - from hutong to highrise’ is part of China Week Nelson and explores the impact on Chinese communities as traditional alleyways (hútòngs) are replaced by western-style high rise buildings, shopping malls and transit stations.
The paintings juxtapose the differences and tensions between non-place and place, between pace and pause. Urban structures and people intertwine through a process of layering, obliterating and tracing. Spaces evolve over time and change day by day as imagery is painted in, painted out and then painted over. The history in the layers of paint traces the transformation of urban space and it’s inhabitants.
Anna-Marie White, Curator at the Suter Art Gallery says “Figures occupy the hazy zones between
‘place’ and ‘non-place’ – businessmen stride purposefully past a casually dressed man, hunched over a washing bucket, or slumped – head on hands – sitting exhausted, or overwhelmed, on a kerb. The title of that painting, drawn from a Chinese proverb, reads No Man Can Do More Than He Can, and is concerned with the pressure placed on the individual – and the nation – to rise above their current status.”
Chandler is one of Nelson’s leading contemporary artists. In 2014 she spent two months on the Red Gate Residency Programme, living and working in a migrant village called Fei Jia Cun on the outskirts of Beijing. Chandler became fascinated with the village’s unique sense of place, character, and the way life was lived on the street. She wondered how communities such as Fei Jia Cun will adapt to the rapidly changing spaces and places in the city.
Chandler says: “I found Beijing fascinating, from the vibrant old villages and historical sites, to the torn down hutongs, the vast construction sites, and finally the brand new spaces of globalisation in the inner city. I am excited by the new paintings in this exhibition - they incorporate more colour, more texture and more fragments of place.”
‘China Dream - from hutong to highrise’ runs until the 26th September 2015
SALT Gallery, 27 Vanguard Street, Nelson/
Tuesday - Saturday 10am to 3pm
Chandler is giving an artist talk at the China Week Community Day
2pm, Saturday 12th September in A174, A Block, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology
For more information on China Week visit: