Meulensteen is proud to announce the first solo exhibition of Tian Xiaolei in the United States. Based in Beijing, he creates surreal animated videos and images that engage with the history of Chinese art and the rapidly evolving social, economic, and political realities of contemporary China.
The exhibition features Song of Joy, an ambitious computer-animated film through which Tian explores the relationship between pretended joy and real pain, and addresses hidden truths regarding the era of consumption and desire. This boisterous and ironic celebration of the new China features hundreds of identically outfitted businessmen frolicing in a chaotic amusement park and participating in choreographed dances and marches to the tune of Mozart’s Requiem. Also on view is Tian’s print series Chinese Contemporary Paintings. Employing digital techniques to reinterpret the conventions of Chinese traditional landscape painting, Tian creates nature-centered images of dramatic topographies that become dwarfed by fantastic animal figures.
In the artist’s own words: I used to be more inclined to accept the conception of Daoism, which praises highly the integration of nature and human. With the fast development of technology, we are now experiencing a transition from being in awe of Mother Nature to conquering and changing it. This seems to be a sign of the great progress of human civilization, but behind that progress there is a breaking down of something about which most of us cannot become aware. Our inherent spiritualism and our integrated relationship with nature are degenerating as technology is making progress faster and faster.
Tian Xiaolei graduated from the Digital Media Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing in 2007. His work has been featured in exhibitions throughout Beijing, as well as at the Milwaukee Art Museum and in Meulensteen’s group show In a Perfect World…, curated by James Elaine in 2011. Tian was recently selected by the Martell Art Fund and the Today Art Museum for the Focus on Talent Project.