Preview: Lu Chunsheng and Jia Aili – Counterpoints

Lu Chunsheng, The first man who bought a juicer bought it not for drinking juice (film still) (2008). © the artist

Exhibition: Lu Chunsheng and Jia Aili – Counterpoints, Rivington Place, London, March 31 – May 15 2010

With the commission of work by Ai Weiwei for the turbine hall of Tate Modern later this year, contemporary art from China is very much on the capital’s cultural agenda.

So this new exhibition at Rivington Place can only add to the interest. Londoners can be the first in Europe to see a film by Lu Chunsheng and a solo show by Jia Aili. If the two artists share a common theme, it could be technological bewilderment.

The First Man Who Bought a Juicer Bought it Not For Drinking Juice is the clunky name of Lu Chunsheng’s 27-minute film, which features a grain reaper in place of a kitchen appliance.

By combining documentary and fantasy, he demonstrates how a machine can come to wield a terrifying alien power over its creator, in this case a mechanic.

Emerging artsist Jia Aili shares his compatriot’s intensity of vision, and his large-scale paintings deal with the emotional impact of a rapidly modernising society.

Exhibition organisers Iniva have also commissioned a site specific work from Jia Aili for the window of Rivington Place. His response has been to recreate a masterpiece of Western renaissance art.

But this version of Carravaggio’s The Incredulity of Saint Thomas is a disorientating mix of hurried brushstrokes and muted colours. If anyone still needs convincing about Chinese art, this may be the show to see.

Written for Culture24.

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