de Sarthe is pleased to present Fragments: Post-Internet Art in Hong Kong and Beijing as part of Art Basel's first iteration of Online Viewing Rooms, featuring artworks by Beijing-based artist Zhong Wei and Hong Kong-based artist Mak Ying Tung 2.
We inhabit a fractured reality, one where the unending flow of information has transformed nearly every aspect of our lives. The artwork of Zhong Wei and Mak Ying Tung 2 reflect this reality and address the effect it has on both their intimate personal stories, as well as larger systems of influence.
Zhong Wei's canvases speak to China's vibrant and chaotic, but nonetheless highly monitored, Internet-based visual culture. Working with a massive database of memes and imagery found online, Zhong Wei uses his computer to build digital sketches before translating his work to canvas. He often divides his paintings into well-defined rectangles, some of which are filled with interconnected imagery blurring the borders between the geometric spaces. Other rectangles are filled with distinct and unrelated patterns that have little or no connection with their surroundings. The various subjects within his paintings are, as a result, remarkably varied and diverse. For example, much of his early inspiration was drawn from traditional Buddhist art, which is still referenced within his paintings today, particularly in the portrayal of folds of fabric. These patterns are placed in such a way that they coexist alongside alien-like tubes leeching onto the surface of an unseen creature, anime eyes peering into the distance, chicken legs, cybernetic arms, or pop culture references. To Zhong Wei, this coupling of seemingly random imagery is exactly the kind of interaction that generates the energy driving both the exponential growth and fragmentation of our consciousness and exterior world.
Mak Ying Tung 2 artworks are bound by the dualism of humor and intense inquisitiveness. Her series Home Sweet Home (2019-2020) are triptychs on canvas that make use of the popular life simulation video game "The Sims" and are each painted by three separate painters on the Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao.
Lacking in specific objectives, "The Sims" is one of the best selling video games of all time, with over 200 million copies sold worldwide. It allows players to live a simulated life through a customised avatar and design their home however they please. For many it is a form of escapism used to craft an alternate reality.
Through "The Sims", Mak 2 constructs dream-like home environments that speak to life in Hong Kong. She uses bizarre and nonsensical elements, which the game renders perfect and immaculate nonetheless, to explore both idyllic and traumatic aspects of life in the tumultuous city. She takes screen-captures of these environments and then divides the resultant image into thirds. She has each third painted by a different painter on Taobao who is given the least amount of instruction possible. Owing to interpretive inconsistencies, different skill levels, and varied materials, the final appearance of each triptych is unpredictable. Through fracturing the process of production and allowing external factors to intervene in the actualisation of her understanding of home, Mak 2's "Home Sweet Home" series not only elucidates the inevitable disparity between fantasy and reality, its also crafts a comment on authorship, "copy-cat" culture, and narratives of home. The series's relationship to post-Internet art lies not only in the imagery derived from "The Sims" but also from Mak 2's use of the e-commerce platform Taobao and its web of scattered communities to create and further contribute meaning to the artworks.
To view and inquire about available works, please visit our Online Viewing Room using your Art Basel account from 6 pm HKT March 18th to 6 pm HKT March 25th.