de Sarthe is pleased to announce the opening of Dong Jinling’s first solo exhibition with the gallery titled The Purity of a Horse on March 17th. The exhibition features a completely new body of work by the artist and will run through May 6th, 2018.
In this exhibition Dong Jinling expands and reflects on the notion of “Purity.” She discusses the delicate relationship and the strong emotional bond that exists between humans and animals. The artist has chosen horses as a focal point as they have had a close relationship to humans since ancient times. To Dong Jinling, horses represent the human spirit. She portrays the horse as a creature that captures simplicity and complexity at the same time. Through the artworks in this exhibition, Dong Jinling hopes to construct a bridge between reality and the spiritual world.
Standing in the main hall on the first floor, "The Purity of a Horse" is also the name of a horse-shaped installation carved from white marble. Here, the body of the horse is dismembered into two parts and is missing its head. In her artist’s statement Dong Jinling notes, on January 3rd 1889, at the square in front of Turing’s house, German poet and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche witnessed the abuse of a horse by its driver and when he walked over to the horse, he started crying while holding its neck. This scenario coincides exactly with a dream from Raskolnikov, a main character in the novel ‘Crime and Punishment’ written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in 1866. The two instances, as well as this artwork, symbolize an intangible tension that originates from powerful sympathies. It references the conflicts between morality and immorality and our limited range of understanding.
"Purity" often implies that an individual is of virtuous thoughts, speech, and action. "Purity" can also suggest cleanliness. To Dong Jinling, the word implies a self-restrain and self-censorship that is rooted in morality. The single channel video titled "Purity" records a horse that is led by a person holding a rope. They stand and struggle on a boundless frozen river. From the video, you can only see part of the horse’s body: its legs, its tail, and some animal hearts strewn on the ground. With sound effects customized by independent musician Zhang Jianfeng, these shocking and horrifying images create an even heavier atmosphere. Meanwhile, this atmosphere echoes a solemn sense of ritual that is brought through by Dong Jinling’s oil painting Honor and installation work Flag.
The Survivor’s Notes is a combination of two photographs, the contents of which came from the artist’s personal experience in the past. It goes back to the year when Dong left home to this region permeated with the smell of fear and terror. At the time people saw painful things happening everywhere in the heavily guarded city. Due to a complex set of reasons, horrifying and alarming incidents took over the entire place. As a common resident, Dong Jinling had to worry about petrol bombs breaking her windows at any moment. At that time, she used photography to record what looked like a grey and gloomy sky that was almost static. Dong peeled the skins from her both palms then pasted to the photo where the sky were. In the photos, the flowing patterns of the sky are clearly visible and viewers can sense they retain the turmoil of emotions at the time. There was no honor in the war, only survivors.
For more information on Dong Jinling, please click here.