PIFO Gallery is pleased to present Kang Haitao's solo exhibition Astronomy of Landscape. It is the 4th solo exhibition of Kang Haitao at PIFO Gallery since 2009, showing the artist's paintings from the last three years. As an increasingly mature figure among young artists, Kang Haitao has been creating figurative paintings, abstract paintings and photographs at the same time for nearly two decades, which formed a visual concept and an artistic language that echo each other. In the upcoming solo exhibition, curated by Bao Dong, Kang Haitao’s artworks will be discussed under the macro visual analysis, aiming to focus viewers’ attention on his progress of the motif of "landscape".
In the history of art, landscape, as an artistic genre, has been defined by a focus on natural scenery. From John Constable’s landscape paintings and Monet’s garden and lawn to the photographs of clouds taken by Alfred Stieglitz, nature has been studied in the process of its artistic representations, in which artistic techniques, languages, and viewpoints have changed simultaneously. Kang Haitao’s paintings have continued to foster the relations between art and nature, however, the artist has been recycling the concept of “landscape” based on his new experience and viewpoint.
There has been a considerable tension between the macro and micro levels of Kang’s work, on one hand, the artist would view the scenery in the manner of remote observation, but on the other hand, he would make paintings in the manner of surveying and drawing charts. This reminds us of the science of astronomy, which studies celestial objects in the entire universe and elementary particles of astronomical origin as well; meanwhile, astronomy also deals with the measurement of the distant astronomical objects solely based on limited information, which may cause blurry images of astronomical objects oftentimes. In this sense, Kang Haitao’s way of work has an outstanding quality of astronomy; this arguably best explains the sensibility of distance as seen in his landscape paintings.
compared with traditional society, the most unique feature of modern life lies in the fact that it allows for boundless magnification of individuals’ viewpoints while it puts a strict limit on the scope of experience. For example, it is easy for a person to get timely updates on international news but one forgets the details of what they ate for dinner last night. Each of us generates more and more information and the scope of cognition is being broadened to a greater extent, however, we have greatly missed opportunities for real-world experiences. In other words, we are moving towards a more indirect, abstract world that is formed from concepts. Fundamentally, Kang Haitao’s paintings confront and capture such a world without the presence of humans. That is to say, it is a world that is conceptualized and non-representational, a world that seeks after imaging rather than representation. In the world, objects are no longer what we view, what we view has shifted to the “viewing” per se; therefore, Chuck Close may not necessarily be labeled as a portrait painter. Similarly, Kang Haitao’s paintings cannot be categorized as landscape paintings in the traditional sense, rather, his paintings can serve as a distinctive way of viewing in such an intersectional era of landscape art.
Chinese, b.1976, Chongqing, graduated from Sichuan Fine Arts Academy. Lives and works in Chengdu, Mianyang.
Curator: Bao Dong