Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rosfer & Shaokun´s works sparkle at Paris Cutlog Contemporary Art Fair

Rosfer & Shaokun at the Paris Cutlog Contemporary Art Fair Image courtesy of the artists

Rosfer & Shaokun, whose Red Flag image was censored and banned in their recent Beijing show, add Paris to the growing list of European venues for the pair of contemporary artists.

Shaokun sent me two new images from their show at the Cutlog Contemporary Art Fair in Paris that ended 23 October, Cutlog´s third edition.

Rosfer & Shaokun´s work under the Bourse de Commerce in Paris Image courtesy of the artists
Cutlog this year offered 42 French and international galleries. The happening was held under the dome of the Bourse de Commerce, France´s historical equivalent of Wall Street, only meters away from the Louvre and Centre Pompidou.

Rosfer & Shaokun´s peformance art images appear in these new images.

The duo joined three other artists in the exhibition, Artisti in Mostra at the Aranapoveda Galeria in Madrid beginning 15 September.

The show runs to 8 November.

In Geneva, Rosfer & Shaokun opened 22 September, represented by La Galerie Hania Bailly Contemporary.

Shaokun, center, at her and Ruggero Rosfer´s "Face-Off-No Land" Beijing opening at ME Photo Art Gallery. Authorities ordered only this work--"No Land IV"--removed during the exhibition as politically sensitive.

“The distance that separates Ruggero Rosfer and Shaokun becomes the filter of two such different realities: Italy and China in the 21st Century.
“On this distance their experience and understanding of the world has to find a balance and a meaningful representation in the final lay-out of their art work.
"This process, difficult and unpredictable, provides constant creative tension and vitality.” –Alessandro Rolandi

"Face-Off I" by Rosfer & Shaokun (2011), image courtesy of artists
Italian fashion and fine art photographer Ruggero Rosfer and classically trained Chinese painter Shakoun concluded their show--"Face-Off No Land"--10 June at ME Photo Art Gallery in Beijing´s 798 District.

It opened 18 April.

The pair met in Beijing in about 2006 and have collaborated since. 

They opened “Face – Off No Land” 15 days after Beijing police snatched Ai Weiwei (3 April), currently detained and charged with evading  taxes.

This became a ticklish time to launch an edgy contemporary fine art show in Beijing. 

"Bureaucratic Beauty III" by Rosfer & Shaokun (2011), image courtesy of artists

Only one of their works, "No Land IV", which pictured Shaokun nestled into the Motherland´s crimson flag, her expression cutting, cunning, all-knowing and always watching you did not survive the run of the show.

Authorities invited the artists to remove what they deemed a sensitive work. 

They complied and experienced no other interference.

Collaboration & Cultural Fusion

Rosfer and Shaokun met and started working together in Beijing, collaborating using a formula, said Rolandi, Beijing-based art lecturer, artist and curator, who knows them well.

They jointly choose a subject or theme, then build an idea for a composition with a real set, he added.

In an interview with ArtTraveler this week, Shaokun said Rosfer takes all the photos.

"Bureaucratic Beauty" by Rosfer & Shoakun (2011)

Shaokun usually performs as subject, although other times they pay for models from different social classes, wealthy, children of migrant works, she said.

“I experiment and interpret many images in this thought phase.

"Second, I then have a clearer idea of what meaning or concept we want to express through body language and eyes.

“Most motivation for our works comes from my reaction and pondering cultural phenomenon and social issues of my Motherland,” she told me.

“So my body is the best channel of our concepts in these photographs.”
Shaokun described Rosfer as a very good friend who brings his years of experience (since 1996) as a professional photographer in London, shooting nightlife for Italian magazines and his collaborations with Vanity Fair, Vogue Russia and others.

"1980, My World II" by Rosfer & Shaokun (2011), image courtesy of the artists
He has exhibited in eight group shows, in Beijing, Verona, Milan, the Brussels Art Fair with Proyecto Arte Galeria (Madrid) plus a solo show in Millan and the current fusion: “Face – Off No Land.”

“His shooting is very culturally sensitive such as knowing typical characteristics of Chinese symbols, and also what I love is he brings his keen sense of fashion into the art photos,” Shaokun said.

Although Rosfer lives in Milan and Shaokun in Beijing, the duo continue collaborating, inventing new techniques and concepts.

Facing Off Against Facebook?

In their “Face--Off No Land” series, they probe the real and imagined space in a modern society. 

Shaokun describes “web life” versus “real life.” These, she said, constitute “our existence lived in multiple dimensions."

“In real life we enjoy relative freedom and even enjoy imprisonment with ethical boundaries, society´s regulations always placing control and pressure on the body and spirit to some degree in real life, while in the virtual world of web life, we can enjoy many different kinds of relative freedom and release of pressure.

"Face-Off III" by Rosfer & Shaokun (2011), image courtesy of the artists
“However, though this ´mouth’ only enjoys illusory and hazy freedom, from some perspectives of authority, this is seen as extremely dangerous, or morally corrupting.

“Concerning sensitive political affairs, when people are paying serious attention, many kinds of websites are blocked, making people even more curious to access them.

“Is this like the Chinese parable of the thief who wants to steal a bell, so he foolishly covers his own ears, thinking he can stop others hearing?” Shaokun wrote this last October about the artistic spine of "Face-Off No Land."

"Bureaucratic Beauty V" by Rosfer & Shaokun (2011)
Trained four years at the Academy of Traditional Chinese Painting in the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Shaokun continues drawing and painting.

“I particularly like her drawings, full of life and freshness, addressing traditional Chinese subjects with a joyful disrespect," said Rolandi.

“Her canvases are technically exquisite; that´s why several Chinese artists required her help as an assistant to finish their own works,” he added.

Rolandi has curated one of Ruggero´s shows in 2006 and two Shaokun performances.


By Denis Curti (December 2010)
Special to ArtTraveler
Rosfer & Shaokun’s photographic production is like a landmark statement and participates in the formulation of a renewed visual vocabulary, capable of building a new context.

I did try looking at these photographs standing still more to the side of the sheet rather than in front of it to withstand physical rapture. It didn’t work. 

These images capture your very inner core. It is a precipice of awareness. They are poems for the eye and scratches to the heart. They walk on the lines of a complex dialogue that moves amongst different forms of artistic expression. 

"1980, My World I" by Rosfer & Shoakun (2011), image courtesy of the artists

There is no real center of action. 

It's a powerful description of the new giant of world economy: China as we know it today. Contemporary China, a country that today can dictate what is acceptable and what is not with a single gesture. 

The collection of images is centered on a privileged subject: the female body. A useful metaphor to recall the history of a continent which has caused strong reactions and debate on woman’s condition and social status.

"No Land II" by Rosfer & Shaokun (2011), image courtesy of the artists

The strength of these images lies in the aesthetic logic that makes photography a surgical expression capable of penetrating the most hidden feelings and, at the same time, defining the essential characteristics of beauty.

Ruggero Rosfer’s distinctly western photographic vision becomes a chivalrous gesture, almost belonging to another time, and therefore fascinating.

"No Land I" by Rosfer & Shaokun (2011), image courtesy of the artists
His visual work gracefully combines with Shaokun’s artistic imaginary world, eventually enabling criticism of controversial socio-cultural aspects of new China to speak up and go on stage.

 ‘’FACE-OFF I/II/III’’ show the sinuous outlines of Shaokun scarred by the fragments of a mask, while Facebook’s homepage flakes off her body and face.

The metaphor emerges through the gestures of a woman-China that voluntarily divests of a social and cultural dress she refuses, interrupting the routes of communication with a world in which social networks dominate relationships and ideas. 

The three photographs lead to multi-level reading, in a blend of words and images, through dense and complex codes and meanings. 

"No Land III" by Rosfer & Shaokun (2011), image courtesy of the artists
The words "Welcome to Facebook" on Shaokun’s face reach beyond the mere textual value and are included in a semantic structure bearing connections with the oriental woman's body, with the Chinese continent and its relationship with freedom of expression and communication.

Rosfer and Shaokun’s artistic imaginary world stems from a complex and articulated reality which, beyond the limits of time and space, finds the symbolic dimension for her portrayal in photography.

"New 87 Angels I" by Shaokun (2011), image courtesy of the artist

Each shot contains the infinite ways of looking at the world that the two artists put at the basis of their creation, and everything seems wrapped up in the vortex of a very peculiar complicity.

"New 87 Angels II" by Shaokun (2011), image courtesy of the artist

All of the above images are provided exclusively to ArtTraveler by the artists through ME Photo Art Gallery. Special thanks to Alessandro Rolandi for making this post possible.

Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

Visit Andalusia for a walking holiday or week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop. See: www.spanjeanders.nl and www.competafinearts.com.

"Spanish life stilled," photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)

 ArtTraveler´s video: an interview with Scottish illustrator and painter, Gordon Wilson, about his new "I Love Fish" exhibition, inspired by a commissioned mural he did 12 years ago for a West Glasgow gangster, who loved supporting writers and artists as well as organized crime.

You may reach me at stefanvandrake@gmail.com or by calling (34) 915 067 703 or from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349

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