Pearl Lam Galleries is proud to present Embodied, a group exhibition that studies figuration in art. Curated by David Ho Yeung Chan, the exhibition will feature works by five international artists: Du Zhenjun (France), Ho Tzu Nyen (Singapore), Li Ming (China), Gatot Pujiarto (Indonesia), and Ben Quilty (Australia). The show will open on 6 November and run through 10 January, 2015.

To ‘embody’ is to take spiritual possession of something that one holds dear in the hope of making it one’s own. An artwork’s attributes come from the visual representation of an idea. For an artwork, the most direct way to engage with audiences is to depict the human body. Embodied examines the language of figuration and the varying appropriations of bodily association through the use of different media. In doing so, it exposes the gap between using art as a tool for idealisation and reality.

Embodied continues a long history in Western art of exploring the human figure, touching on themes of composition, myth, narrative, performance, body politics, disfiguration, torment, dematerialisation and dystopia. The exhibition highlights how figurative art is not limited to the use of the human figure, but also contains subtle iconography and symbolism. This group exhibition will be installed in a melodramatic manner in order to provoke a bodily and psychological association with the individual artworks.

Du Zhenjun’s dystopic photographs that depict the Tower of Babel in the background raise the spectre of humanity on the verge of an environmental catastrophe, and remind us of the precarious state of current affairs. Du works primarily in digital media, seeing it as the most relevant art form in modern society.

Filmmaker Ho Tzu Nyen documents the interactions of a group of actors on a stage in the film EARTH. He uses chiaroscuro coupled with a soundscape to cause a crisis in identification, and to question the narrative structure in film.

Experimental video artist Li Ming finds inspiration in images, words, actions, and atmospheres which provoke his interest. Shot in Hangzhou in 2012, Mist is a two-channel video that depicts an imaginary apocalypse and captures the sporadic movement of a group of casual workers on the outskirts of a city. This artwork speaks of desolation and the psychological impact on our subjectivity as a result of environmental degradation.

The highly charged paintings by Gatot Pujiarto connote an altered state with the depicted figures being subjected to temptations and spiritual trance.

Ben Quilty’s investigation surrounding the issue of masculinity is embodied in his disfigured portraitures which shed light on the psychological nuances of his painted subjects. His work relates to his own past, as well as Australia’s wider historical culture.

Du Zhenjun

Du Zhenjun was born in 1961 in Shanghai. He graduated from the University of Shanghai’s School of Fine Arts in 1986, and graduated from the Regional School of Fine Art of Rennes, France in 1998. He currently lives in Shanghai and Paris.

Du has a background in classical painting and sculpture, but now works primarily in digital media, as he believes it is the most relevant way of making art. He sees it as “a way of working on the dimension of power inherent to a society of information and new technologies”. Du’s interactive new media installations and digitally manipulated photographs have made him one of China’s most recognised digital artists. His work deals with tragedy and what he considers as the universal human condition. He sources some of his images from mass-media outlets, including television, magazines and newspapers.

His recent solo exhibitions include Babel-world/Du Zhenjun (2013), ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany; La Tour de Babel (2012), Maison de la Culture de Metz, Metz, France; and Interactivités (2010), L’institut franco-japonais de Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.

Ho Tzu Nyen

Ho Tzu Nyen was born in 1976 in Singapore. He earned a BA in Creative Arts from Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, and an MA in Southeast Asian Studies from the National University of Singapore. He lives and works in Singapore, and is currently an artist-in-residence at the DAAD, Berlin.

Since the inception of his practice in 2003, Ho Tzu Nyen has taken on the roles of film director, screenwriter, theatre director, historian, and teacher, besides that of artist, choreographing and mounting increasingly more complex and novel projects that assume a variety of forms—on stage, screen and in galleries. Three themes characterise his art practice: historiography, re-interpretation, and the deconstruction of visual and acoustic aesthetics. Ho’s past works investigate and incorporate important cultural moments as their material, reinterpreting and representing ideas and expressions that have had significant impact beyond their particular cultural and geographical origins.

His works have been shown internationally in museums, galleries, film and performing arts festivals. He has had solo exhibitions at major institutions, including the Mori Museum, Tokyo (2012) and Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia (2007 and 2010). He has also represented Singapore at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011). Ho’s work is also in the collection of the Guggenheim Museum New York.

Li Ming

Born in 1986 in Hunan, China, Li Ming is an experimental video artist who uses his own body in much of his art. He graduated from the New Media Art Department of the China Academy of Fine Arts in 2008. Currently, he lives and works in Beijing and Hangzhou.

Li Ming’s works usually originate from a certain image, word, action or atmosphere that provokes his interest. Through the rearrangement of incoherent material, a mix of reality and fantasy, the artist presents real facts as if they were in a dream. His videos inject elements of play into daily life, which in turn creates a whimsical experience for viewers. For Li Ming, video has never only been a medium for documenting actions. The artist’s body has always been used as a mediator in bridging the performance and the video.

His recent solo exhibitions include Mediation (2014), Antenna Space, Shanghai, China and XX (2009), Platform China Contemporary Art Institute, Beijing, China. His works have been shown at institutions such as the Rubell Family Collection in Miami, Whitebox Art Center in New York, White Rabbit Gallery in Sydney, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, China Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum in Beijing, the Iberia Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, OCAT Art Center in Shenzhen, China, the Himalayas Art Museum in Shanghai, and the Today Art Museum in Beijing, among others.

Gatot Pujiarto

Gatot Pujiarto was born in 1970 in Malang, East Java, Indonesia. He graduated from the Department of Fine Art and Design at IKIP Malang in 1995. He lives and works in Malang.

Pujiarto’s works explore abnormalities, weirdness, and tragedy. Inspired by uncommon events or occurrences in everyday life, including stories he heard from friends, TV shows and news that surrounds him, Pujiarto’s works amuse and provoke audiences to reinterpret daily stories as a new reality, to enjoy it and feel emotions caused by it. The visual sensation in his works is combined with unique textures created by pasting, patching, layering, tearing, binding and making patterns.

He has exhibited throughout Indonesia and in Malaysia, Russia, Hong Kong and Korea.

Ben Quilty

Ben Quilty was born in 1973 in Sydney, Australia. In 1994, Quilty completed his Bachelor of Visual Arts, majoring in painting at the Sydney College of the Arts. He later went on to receive a certificate in Aboriginal Culture and History from Monash University in 1996. In 2001, he received a Bachelor of Visual Communication at the University of Western Sydney.

Quilty grew up in the outer suburbs of north-western Sydney, where his youth typified the self-destructive character of Australian masculinity: drugs, alcohol, and recklessness. He was a willing participant in this risk-taking and destructive behaviour, but always questioned it. It was this period of his life that inspired most of his work today. Images such as skulls, snakes and grotesque Siamese-twin compositions have since been seen in his paintings creating a dark and uncanny genre across the majority of his artworks.

His works feature in the collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Quilty is the recipient of the Doug Moran Portrait Prize in 2009. In the same year Quilty was named runner-up for the Archibald Prize for the same portrait. He then won the Archibald Prize two years later for his portrait of Margaret Olley. In 2014, he received the top award at the inaugural Prudential Eye Awards in Singapore for his painting Smashed Rorschach.

David Ho Yeung Chan

David Ho Yeung Chan is a curator based in Hong Kong and Shanghai. With Pearl Lam Galleries, Chan has curated Lei Hong: Non-Geometric Study (2012), Tsang Kin-Wah: Ecce Homo Trilogy I (2012), Fictional Recoveries (2012), Su Xiaobai (2013), Déjà Disparu (2013), and After Time (2014). He holds an MA from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, New York, USA.