oil on canvas
150 x 110 cm
Cui Jie loves the vitality of Chinese cities, with their continually reconstructed public spaces. She collages images of ubiquitous Soviet-style apartment blocks, modernist steel and glass office towers, and idiosyncratic buildings that combine ‘Chinese characteristics’ with western features to create hybrid urban landscapes. Her paintings juxtapose actual buildings seen and photographed in Beijing, Shanghai or Hangzhou with public sculptures and windswept open plazas from different locations. We seem to be looking through plate glass windows; reflections and refractions partially obscure our view as we follow the artist on her path through this constantly transforming architectural confusion, an unsettling experience emphasised by distorted perspective, odd angles and a palette inspired by Early Renaissance masters. Cui’s paintings reflect her own experiences as a child of the Reform and Opening era that resulted in China’s dramatic transformation: most of the buildings and sculptures in her paintings are less than 30 years old. Crane’s House 3 an actual building in Shanghai, but the sculpture of entwined birds was found in a different location. Together they represent the shift from grand monuments of Socialism to modernist abstraction in the new Chinese market economy of the late 20th century.