For the 2022 edition of Taipei Dangdai, de Sarthe is pleased to present a two-artist exhibition featuring works by contemporary artists Lin Jingjing and Mak2. The exhibition showcases a series of imagined spaces that speculate alternative paradigms beyond the existing boundaries of physical reality.
Lin Jingjing’s Utopian Reality (2021-) is a series of mixed media diptychs comprised of silk thread, acrylic paint, and archival pigment print on canvas. The near-theatrical artworks depict solitary figures, some dressed in futuristic attire, whose faces are either obscured or turned away from the viewer. The composition of each work is partitioned by bold, black lines, as if the viewer is looking through a window. Two meters tall and two meters wide, these disproportionately large windows reveal picturesque sights of urban architecture and natural landscapes that stretch into the vast distance. Comprising lakes, mountains, as well as football fields and swimming pools, the imagery appears familiar yet estranged, lacking in identifiers that would allow one to place its location.
Contemplating the 21st century modes of existence, Lin Jingjing introduces extraterrestrial narratives into the picture through forms of U.F.O.s and space capsules – a whimsical play on the invasion of technology in all aspects of life, which is growing far more noticeable in times of turbulence. Within the artwork, the entities navigate through vivid billows of clouds, mapping the topography below. In comparison to the historically negative representations of aliens in books, movies, and academia, the artist’s use of highly saturated color and contrast carries conflicting undertones of both optimism and gloom. Vaguely recalling religious imagery, vibrant arrays of light radiate from the vehicles, as if here to sweep humanity into a higher dimension.
The artist believes that the perpetual development of technology is continuously redefining our pre-existing notions of reality. Corresponding to the rapid and paradoxical shift in humanity’s perception of reality, Lin Jingjing’s imagery appears dramatic yet strangely pedestrian; phenomenal yet strangely familiar. Introducing her audience to a parallel universe in which fact and fiction cannot be differentiated, the artist illuminates the potential for infinite possibilities in a world without the anchors of reality.
Conceptual artist Mak2’s artworks are always bound by the dualism of humour and intense inquisitiveness. Her iconic series Home Sweet Home (2019-) explores both the idyllic and traumatic aspects of life in contemporary cities. It is a series of triptychs on canvas composed using the popular American life simulation videogame “The Sims”, and each panel of an artwork is painted by a separate painter found on the Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao.
“The Sims” is often used as a form of escapism as it grants players absolute power to control and alter their surroundings, allowing one to live out their own customized fantasy without the obstacles of reality. However, as these virtual fantasies are materialized via paint and brush, the final outcome becomes unpredictable due to the painters’ inconsistent skill levels, techniques, and use of materials. By enabling external factors to intervene in the process of actualization, Mak2 elucidates the inevitable disparity between reality and fantasy. Upon the invasion of foreign factors into one’s personal realm, the illusion of utopia is instantly shattered.