The 'Unfinished' exhibition awaits an audience for completion

Xu Qin
The special thought-provoking show features the works of five leading exponents of Chinese contemporary art.
Xu Qin

Among the miscellaneous exhibitions in the experimental curation project "The Magnet Field: Yellow Box Experiment Space" that runs through November 20 at Shanghai Himalayas Museum, a special section titled "Unfinished" might have attracted the least attention from visitors thinking it was not yet ready for display.

However, the participating artists – He Yunchang, Liu Guangyun, Jin Feng, Shi Yong and Wu Gaozhong – are all leaders in their respective fields in China.

"If 'Unfinished' is a state close to completion, it is a present progressive tense," said Jin, 58, from Shanghai. "In my work, it also means that it cannot be completed, or it is intended to be uncompleted, or it is blocked by external forces,"

Jin's work "The Magic Square and The Strokes" is a painting on the floor, designed by the artist especially for the magic sum 24.

In the square, each Arabic number represents a stroke associated with a Chinese character, which makes viewing a game of coding and decoding for those who try to put the fragments together to get a meaning by adding up the numbers.

The 'Unfinished' exhibition awaits an audience for completion
Courtesy of Shanghai Himalayas Museum

Jin Feng's "The Magic Square and The Strokes," 2021

"Pursuing what is unavailable or seeking what you cannot get is a more advanced unfinished state of mind," said Jin, who confessed that mathematics gives him exactness and logic to see things through and a flexible way to express himself.

If Jin's work subconsciously expands people's imagination in the process, Wu's installation "The Three-Way Ladder" requires viewers to ponder the concept of "vulnerability" in our daily life.

The work is composed of a wooden ladder and a rope of knots. The ladder, which is about 4 meters high, has been chopped to the point of collapse, and the knots on the rope, about 30 meters long, record each critical moment when the artist had to stop chopping before it reached a certain limit.

The 'Unfinished' exhibition awaits an audience for completion
Courtesy of Shanghai Himalayas Museum

Wu Gaozhong's installation "The Three-Way Ladder," 2011

As the structure of the ladder gets thinner, Wu, who now lives and works in Beijing, revealed that he himself was put under considerable pressure in the process. The knots showcase the modest strength held at the point before the ladder collapses and the courage to pick up the hatchet to start again after a couple of days are what he considered of great significance in unexceptional times.

The same feel of tense, intrigue and delicacy of balance in the context of the uncertainty can also be triggered by He's large-scale construction "The Breeze," Shi's crime-scene narrative "A ( ) Bird be Released from the Top of a Certain Tower B" and Liu's video work "Shanghai Cascade: 60,000 Pearls."

With an aim to become an independent voice at the forefront of Chinese contemporary art, the exhibition project, curated by Shen Qibin, director of Shanghai Himalayas Museum, encourages the artists to stay alert, think independently about the social reality they each have observed, and express themselves in a creative way.

Here the word "unfinished" also implies the works need the visitors' participation and contemplation to reach a self-completion.

Exhibition info:

Dates: Through November 20 (closed on Mondays), 10am-6pm
Venue: Shanghai Himalayas Museum

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