Jennifer Wen Ma: Eight Views Of Paradise Interrupted
Sandra Gering Inc
14 East 63rd Street, New York
May 11 - July 28, 2017
Fusing aspects of traditional Chinese art with a distinctly contemporary approach, Ma creates delicate, ephemeral installations out of paper, ink, glass and light. For this exhibition, the artist presents an environment of new works inspired by Paradise Interrupted, her operatic interpretation of Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, reimagined within the ancient Chinese story of Du Liniang, a young protagonist’s dreamlike journey to enlightenment. Originally presented at the Lincoln Center Festival last summer, the opera combined Ma’s innovative set designs with her libretto, a contemporary composition in the traditional kunqu vocal singing style. Paradise Interrupted was also the artist’s directorial debut. Of equal significance is Ma’s reference to Eight Views of Xiaoxiang, her homage to traditional Chinese landscape painting, and the exhibition’s signature work.
Eight Views features some of Ma’s best-known iconography: her unconventional use of ink and her multi-faceted use of the garden as metaphor. Her incorporation of time as material is also significant, whether expressed through performance, narrative, or the movement of light, air and liquid. Upon entering the exhibition, the most striking element is a large, black cut paper garden; its accordion-like construction allows it to be moved and displayed in many configurations. Ma has explored similar effects with living plants, painstakingly covering them in ink and letting the works evolve as they continue to sprout and grow. More importantly, once the viewer has acclimated to the darkened room, Ma’s 45-foot long painting begins to make its presence felt. The nuanced work, as subtle and mystical as its predecessors, speaks of the artist’s contribution to both Eastern and Western artistic discourse.
Jennifer Wen Ma has exhibited widely since 1993. In addition to Lincoln Center, solo projects, installations and exhibitions include the Cass Sculpture Foundation, Sussex, England, The Guggenheim Museum, NY, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, the Qatar Museums, Doha, Qatar, the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts, Taiwan, Performa 13, NY, the National Art Museum of China, Beijing, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., the Market Square Public Art Program, Pittsburgh, PA, the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC and the Echigo-Tsumari Triennial, Niigata, Japan, among others. Ma’s work on the opening & closing ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics earned the artist an Emmy in 2008. Jennifer Wen Ma lives in New York & Beijing.