Getting to the bottom of art on an 'Unseeable Seesaw'

Wang Jie
Artist Shen Lieyi's solo-exhibition "Unseeable Seesaw," featuring 20 of his installations, is being showcased on the first and second floors of the Ascendas Plaza.
Wang Jie

Artist Shen Lieyi often makes fun of his works, calling them — “the thing under buttocks.”

His solo-exhibition “Unseeable Seesaw,” featuring 20 of his installations, is being showcased on the first and second floors of the Ascendas Plaza in Xujiahui through the end of the month.

The exhibition, including his “Seesaw” series, “Art Museum,” and “Sky — Toilet Paper,” are paradoxical “things” infused with a sense of humor, easiness and entertainment. They seem common but they stimulate the nerves of the viewers. 

Shen never deliberately emphasizes the difference between vulgarity and elegance. He maintains a close relationship with an ordinary, trivial life and actively explores the possibility of public art at the same time.

His “Seesaw” series was inspired by the English word “seesaw.” The artist made a seesaw full of paradoxes: The two people playing seesaw can hardly see their playmates and the situation of “see and saw” turns into the “unseeable.” 

In this series, Shen purposely created a defect of “looking without seeing” using solid walls, mirrors, reeds, plants and other ways to block the eye contact between the two sides of the game.

Born in 1969 in Hangzhou, Shen graduated from the Department of Sculpture at the China Academy of Art in 1995. He is good at creating interaction between viewers and the works in the simplest way. 

His other work “Thing under buttocks,” from the “Art Museum” series, is composed of carved cushions which appear quite soft and comfortable. But once sitting on them, people would immediately stand up as they get hurt by the tough and cold stones on the cushions. This is a sharp contrast between the visual effect and the actual touch of an object.

Water is another natural subject that Shen loves. In his series work “Rain,” the top surface of the stone is finely polished to be as smooth and bright as a mirror, but dotted with ripples, which resembles the exact moment a raindrop falls onto the surface of the water.

“Anti-commerce, dematerialization and anti-museum were originally the intentions of contemporary art,” said Xiang Liping, the curator of the exhibition. “But up to now, artworks are still sacred things worshipped in museums or luxuries laboratory cared for in galleries. 

“However, from Shen’s point of view, artworks should be practical things that can be used and touched. He hopes to bring art back to our lives and back to something that can be placed under buttocks.”

Exhibition info

Date: Through October 31, 10am-8pm

Address: 333 Tianyaoqiao Rd

Getting to the bottom of art on an 'Unseeable Seesaw'
Ti Gong

The “Seesaw” series by Shen Lieyi

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