A foil to Chinese art

Updated: 2008-05-26 11:34

Keeping tabs on the new Chinese talent (and their names) can be an exhausting exercise in Sisyphusian memorization, particularly in Shanghai where the market is continually re-saturated with emerging artists. As a foil to the overabundance of Chinese art, owner and curator of Art Labor Martin Kemble, is working toward creating a gallery with international texture. "I feel that introducing global perspectives is a requirement in any major city," he says.

Art Labor, a small gallery on Yongjia Lu, has exhibited Chinese and international artists during its two-year tenure. Previous shows include ink paintings by Chinese artist You Si -- the artist's first "China show" in two decades -- as well as NYC based japanese artist Yuichi Hibi.

As for the future? "We are going to have some real nutty shows later this year," says Kemble, "that will put us on the international hip list we hope."

Importing artists is not a simple matter in China where there is a laundry list of regulations with respect to permits, licensing and of course, shipping. But Kemble has a handle on the procedure and Friday evening saw the vernissage for Canandian multi-media artist, Davida Kidd at Art Labor. From families with strollers to the funky New York couple planning to bring vaudville to Shanghai, all sects of Shanghai flocked to view the Vancouverite's multi-media works from the show titled "Baggage."

The source material of "Baggage," which includes photography, painting and collage, and digital media is Kidd’s past-project "Core Dump," for which she arrested various surreal images dancing in her mind's eye and "dumped" them onto the three-dimensional space of a room in Vancouver. Deeply psychological works capture childhood innocence using portraits of young girls in pink and lace surroundings, but the perspective is infused with the dark undertones of adult knowledge -- innocence is impermanent -- purity is on the verge of destruction via forces from the outside world.

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