The tao of the line

By Sandra Chen (
Updated: 2008-04-28 10:23

The opening exhibition of Gallery 49 features artists Chinese, foreign and "both." There are prints of puffy-haired girls hanging themselves among vegetation and graffiti from New York's Mint and Serf duo, as well as double happiness symbols re-shaped to form bombs by Zheng Lu. It is, however, the line that fascinates artists Miguel Payano and Soos.

Payano is an artist of the “both” category, an expat hailing from New York who has spent the better part of the last decade in China. His works start from a single line, black ink on butcher paper that is conscious of Chinese calligraphy aesthetics. Payano’s lines may be completed in less than a day, but filling in the painting's subtler details can take up to a year and a half.

In what the artist describes as a “collage of time,” strata of paint and figures grow over each other until the past blends with the present. In Payano's palimpsests, you don’t need an x-ray to see the process. In one of his paintings, Unsure, a woman's face barely veils the head of a dog, whose hind paw is continuous with the geometric abstractions that form a halo behind her. The original, meandering line is obscured, but its influence lingers on.

From a different kind of East Coast, that of Nanjing, artist Soos follows what he calls the xian dao-C”The Tao of the Line.” His contribution to the show was performed live at the exhibition's opening as Soos sprayed paint on canvas in the colors of the sunset behind him. Pressing a finger to the fabric, he tests the paint before starting his own line. Done in magic marker, his continuous line of black loops and whorls itself into helices, flowers and scribbles.

Though Payano’s work begins with a line and Soos’s ends with one, the parallels in their work bring together a common thread.

Gallery 49
The Hidden City, Pacific Century Place, 2A Gong Ti Bei Lu



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