Collette Blanchard Gallery presents YENI MAO: Dead Reckoning
Collette Blanchard Gallery is pleased to present Dead Reckoning, a selection of new collages, sculptures, and photographs by Yeni Mao. The exhibition will be on view from January 7th – March 2011, with an opening reception on January 7th, 2011.
Yeni Mao’s recent body of work uses a diverse artistic lexicon of nautical, animal, botanic, and martial arts film references to explore the cyclical regeneration of history. The artist is particularly interested in the distortion of inherited cultural narratives, in his words: “the magical and superstitious way we navigate our own reinvention as we move around loosely through space, via immigration and extradition; and time, via history and tradition”. Mao’s first solo exhibition at Collette Blanchard Gallery addresses these moments of transformation and deliverance.
The central installation, Dead Reckoning, for which the exhibition is titled, is a sculptural homage to explorer Zheng He. This installation, a large construction of multiple toy boats hung from the ceiling to create an artificial horizon line, captures the dichotomies in Zheng He’s legacy as hyper-masculine eunuch, and the flip of historical global power bases. Slippage between historical fact and the generation of myth becomes fertile territory for Mao. The use of the term Dead Reckoning to describe the formulation of cultural evolution outlines the conceptual core of the exhibition.
Mao’s engagement with the distortion of cultural references is also reflected in the exhibition through photography and collage, harnessing the reproductive properties of the photo medium to appropriate the fight scenes of martial arts films, as well as addressing the way kung-fu mythos is processed through time and cultures. Mao’s potent series of C-prints The Battle Wizard represent the heroes in ethereal transformative situations. An allusion to Italian Futurist Anton Giulio Bragaglia, these prints attempt to capture the metaphysical with photography. The collage Enter the Invincible Hero, one of a series of rich, meticulous collage works, further deconstructs the image sequence, utilizing kung-fu fight scenes to Muybridge-like effects. The multiple figures are used in a painterly, mark-making way in collective forms referencing natural forces. Mao alters the original meaning system behind the martial arts mythos to suit his own purposes.
Originally from Ontario, Canada, and having spent time in Sweden, Taiwan, and studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. Mao currently lives and works in New York City. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, at venues including Ise Cultural Foundation and chashama, both in New York; ROM Gallery for Art & Architecture in Oslo, Norway; and Shang Element Contemporary Art Museum in Beijing, China.