Duo exhibitions celebrate museum's 10th birthday

Wang Jie
Joel Mesler's "Spiritual Journey" and Zhang Ji's "Manas" are part of a series of events and exhibitions being held to mark the 10th anniversary of Shanghai's Long Museum.
Wang Jie

As a series of events and exhibitions marking the 10th anniversary of the Long Museum in Shanghai, two new exhibitions were unveiled at the West Bund venue.

Duo exhibitions celebrate museum's 10th birthday

"Untitled (We are the World)" by Joel Mesler, pigment on linen

Duo exhibitions celebrate museum's 10th birthday

"Untitled (You and Me)" by Joel Mesler, pigment on linen

"Spiritual Journey"

Running through April 18, "Spiritual Journey" is Joel Mesler's first solo museum exhibition in Asia.

Encompassing around 50 paintings, the presentation illuminates Mesler's signature style characterized by bold colors, stylized patterns, bright figuration and unique calligraphic scripts.

As the title suggests, the exhibition reveals aspects of Mesler's personal and artistic growth, allowing viewers to evolve alongside the artist as they travel through the exhibition space.

Born in 1974 in Los Angeles, Mesler graduated from Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California, and received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1999.

His pictorialism combines techniques gained throughout his career. He studied lithography as a student and initially worked professionally as a printmaker. This background informs his practice of hand-dyeing his linen canvas, helping him achieve a distinctive saturation and gradation of color in many of his works.

The exhibition brings together for the first time Mesler's large-scale triptychs, including "Untitled (The World Is Yours)," "Untitled (You Are Never Alone)" and "Untitled (In the Beginning)." Lush jungles and aqueous pools among them are the imagined environments that the artist conjures up in front of the viewers.

His canvases offer a wry and a vulnerable examination of the place where personal and popular iconography convene.

For Mesler, the painting is a manifestation of his realization that "life is about the journey and the process. It is not about the destination."

Duo exhibitions celebrate museum's 10th birthday

"A Yogi with Fire" by Zhang Ji, acrylic on canvas

Duo exhibitions celebrate museum's 10th birthday

"Dream Soups" by Zhang Ji, acrylic on canvas

"Manas"

"Manas" is young artist Zhang Ji's first solo museum exhibition and it has four chapters. The exhibition features about 30 works on canvas and 200 on paper, mirroring a multitude of possibilities for symbiosis in painting that the artist has explored in the past two years.

Born in Beijing in 1993, Zhang completed his BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2017 and graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art with an MFA in 2020.

Refusing to depict reality, Zhang attempts to eliminate some emotions and feelings that can be directly accessed, allowing the painting to approach the representation of the subconsciousness.

Fire, as a practical agent and metaphor, is used in various contexts by the artist: It transforms into energy with its fading, flickers the divine figures.

"I feel that the process of painting is not about executing intuition to achieve some kind of rationalized harmony, or to pursue a certain consensus on truth: instead, it should be a process of using the defects of rationality as an instrument to reach an incongruous intuition in such process," Zhang said.

"The different extent of predilection, preoccupation and dubiety for each work is a manifestation of human paranoia and what I consider the most precious and vibrant aspect in art."

Exhibition info:

"Spiritual Journey"

Date: Through April 18 (closed on Mondays), 10am-5:30pm

"Manas"

Date: Through May 3 (closed on Mondays), 10am-5:30pm

Venue: Long Museum West Bund

Address: 3398 Longteng Ave

龙腾大道3398号

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