World-renowned artists contribute the panels, drawings, sculpture and prints featured in the upcoming Dowd Gallery exhibition at SUNY Cortland from late October through early December.
“Transcendences,” which features the panels of Diana Al-Hadid and video still prints of Wang Gongxin and Lin Tianmiao, will be on view from Wednesday, Oct. 22, to Wednesday, Dec. 10. The show’s title refers to the power of its works to go beyond the limits of chronological time and material existence.
“This show will be visually stunning,” said Erika Fowler-Decatur, the gallery director. “The works are ethereal, and the space will feel very contemplative. Benches will be available so viewers can take their time pondering the work.”
An opening reception takes place at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, and Al-Hadid will deliver an artist’s talk at 5:15 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27. SUNY Cortland Professor of Art and Art History Luo Xu also offers a talk titled “Sweet Home Beijing: Then and Now” at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11.
“Diana Al-Hadid is a rising star in the art world who has been shown in every biennial and art fair as of late,” Fowler-Decatur said of the Syrian-born artist who today resides in Brooklyn. “I’m so thrilled that she’ll be able to come speak.”
Al-Hadid’s work is recognized for the materials it utilizes. Her panels, constructed from multitudes of drips, are made from polymer gypsum, fiberglass, steel, plaster, gold leaf and pigment. They are both solid and transparent, giving the impression of both two and three dimensions.
The drips evoke thoughts of the eternal and downward pull of gravity, and the gaps between them contribute to a look of disintegration. The overall effect is ancient and ruin-like. Pigmented apparitions, however, appear not only to fade away but also to emerge, and the materials shimmer in a way that gives them a futuristic quality. These contrasting dualities create a sense of time transcended.
[Above: Wang Gongxin and Lin Tianmiao, Here? or There?
The show’s second body of work includes 15 video still prints donated by Wang and Lin from the “Here? Or There?” series on what they perceive as societal instability in China. Wang received an honorary degree from SUNY Cortland at the College’s Undergraduate Commencement in May, which is when he delivered the pieces.
“They are arguably the most important contemporary works in our entire collection,” Fowler-Decatur said.
Pulled from videos originally created for an installation in the 2002 Shanghai Biennale, the work focuses on life in rapidly changing Beijing and the uncertainty of the supernatural, blending what Wang refers to as the rational and spirit worlds. In the imagery, spirits inspired by traditional Chinese folklore are depicted in an ancient hutong neighborhood, new construction sites, the natural landscape and other settings in the capital city.
The figures are adorned in strange yet elaborate costumes. One garment consists of long, pale, organ-like outgrowths. Another resembles a wedding gown and is transparent from shoulder to thigh but opaque from thigh to foot. Noticeable contradictions contribute to a feeling of uncertainty and instability throughout the work.
The figures transcend material reality, and in posing the question “Here? or There?,” the artists emphasize the duality of the rational and spirit worlds.
Born and raised in Beijing, Wang and Lin worked in New York City from 1987 to 1995 and currently split time between Beijing and Brooklyn. They are well-established artists who came to the U.S. at a time in the 1980s when China’s travel restrictions were relaxed.
Gallery events and programs relating to “Transcendences” are free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday and by appointment. The exhibition is the second to be displayed at a renovated Dowd Fine Arts Gallery. The Dowd Fine Arts Center is located at the corner of Graham Avenue and Prospect Terrace on campus.
Exhibition sponsors include the College’s Art and Art History and History departments; the Art Exhibition Association; the International Programs Office; the Clark Center for International Education; the Cortland College Foundation; and Auxiliary Services Corporation.
For more information or to schedule a group tour, contact Fowler-Decatur at 607-753-4216.