QIN YIFENG | Hong Kong, White Cube

This free micro-exhibition of about a dozen large canvases is entitled ‘Negative Reading | Reading Negatives‘, where the artist has created negative images of damaged Ming dynasty furniture, using a large-format camera. This Qin Yifeng’s first Hong Kong solo exhibition.

The design, structure and contours of Ming dynasty furniture has historically been regarded as the embodiment of its inner spirit. Qin’s images not only retain the original lines and structures of the damaged furniture, but also record the traces of damage and the wood’s particular grain.

But there’s a paradox in this “record”: Qin’s works depict three-dimensional objects using two-dimensional means. Not only have the subjects been flattened, they’ve also had the colours removed and flipped. The artist has completely recontextualised the furniture, to the point it’s no longer recognisable as the furniture’s unknown artisans intended. But that’s the point: where white traditionally symbolises funerals and mourning, Qin is attempting “bringing life out of death”.

Of course, none of this prior knowledge is required to understand the exhibition, which self-consciously redefines how an audience sees the subject beyond all recognition. The large, square, dark grey canvases, subtly framed and set against grey walls in large, quiet, open spaces, are somehow not melancholy, but alluring. They look more like abstract paintings than photographs. After experiencing this, we then see a video documentary of the artist at work; showing us behind the scenes of these cryptic images.

Running 4 Sep – 16 Nov 2019 at White Cube, 50 Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong.

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