The purpose of this exhibition, however, is not just to remember the artistic similarities of these Asian countries. Indeed, we all know that these countries have rich cultures, which are several millennia old. In a world more and more influenced by globalisation, art is a tool used to denounce the western encroachment in every field. Hence the title which bewails a lost time, the one that traditional art belonged to, this exhibition tries to stand up for this loss.
Once you get inside, you are immediately captivated by a series of 11 photographs dating from 1978 called 'My Age of Seven’ by the Korean artist Won Seoungwon. The first one shows a little girl who finds her house infested by water and thinks her mother has abandoned her. The following images are taken outside. The works create a comic book showing surreal scenes much in the style of Alice In Wonderland, providing us a story where we flit from dream to nightmare.
The landscapes remind meof cartoon movies which make you want to enter their world to explore these amazing places and help the little girl to find what she is looking for. Water seems to have an important theme,as it is present in most of the photographs. It may, just like the spring tides, symbolize the act of looking back into memory. In other words, behind the idea of looking for her mother, the artist is looking at herself, remembering the days from her past. She seems to be trying to recreate the world of her childhood.
The technique used is said to be quite difficult. It is a numerical superimposition of different pictures and elements added one after the other.
The second great artist who drew my attention, was the Chinese Tu Weicheng. He has created a true “Time Machine”: big traditional pieces of furniture incorporated with screens, a compass face and speedometer dial. Sweet music emanates from it reminding us of how time flies. The contrast between the old furniture and the technological tools that are part of it, is one of the most interesting aspects of this work.
On one of the screens you can watch a video of the ongoing heavy development of Shanghai. A Chinese man is initially looking directly at the camera. The camera is quickly turning around him, presenting the fast expansion of Shanghai and buildings under construction. This expresses the elusive “face of the city” which changes every day, as well as the impact of time on human beings. It is clearly a piece which presents the close relationship between space and time and its consequences.
On top of this, Tu Weicheng adds poetry to his work, making it more intense with the words:
The glamorous sheen of the lake is no match to your elegance and beauty.
Neither is a crystal clear mirror.
Time does not leave its mark on you,
Toil paints no arcs across your face.
Immersed as old- School jazz and the bossa nova quickstep
Play out endless ambiguous dramas that leave me wild.
I finish with Sawada Tomoko, a Japanese artist who uses photographs to denounce actual mores. Her speciality is to take part in the picture by disguising herself as many students girls, thus creating an entire class. At first, my thoughts are that each girl looks different, because of her amazing talent for camouflage! But on closer inspection, I observe that it is Sawada herself everywhere. Her hairstyles and her faces are different in each character she plays, making her a real actress.
At first glance, all girls appear uniform and homogenous, but behind each face and school uniform there is hidden a question about conventions in Japan, a reflection about Japanese society and about the unique identity of each person.
The technique involves superposition of several images into one unique picture, which has an air of strictness and is making you feel slightly ill at ease.
Nostalgia is a very interesting exhibition, full of subtle and inherent messages that the visitor has to try to find. The works are full of chances to reflect and they truly express what the artists have in their minds. Even if you are not in a pensive mood you can simply enjoy the vast array of techniques used to create many of the artists’ works.