Meng Du “Shadow of Day, Shadow of Night”

Fou Gallery

poster for Meng Du “Shadow of Day, Shadow of Night”
[Image: Photograph: Jingxin Hu; Poster Design: Granny Liu]

This event has ended.

Fou Gallery presents glass artist Meng Du’s third solo exhibition Shadow of Day, Shadow of Night. It features her cast, blown and Tiffany glass works created between 2020 and 2022. This is also the first collaboration between Meng Du and Fou Gallery partner and Art Director, Lynn Hai. When curating Shadow of Day, Shadow of Night, Hai hopes to explore unprecedented perspectives in Du’s creation than the past art critiques on her works. Hai attempts to refine and emphasize this view adequately in both curatorial writing and the visual and spatial presentation and manifest the poetic “constellation” structure in the narrations implied by Du’s works.

The works displayed in this exhibition are six series: People Sitting by the Window & Grow Secretly in A Boundless World; Drift Through the Forest, Silence In the Valley; Hello, Again; Apartment; A Cat See the World Leaping Away; Cat in the Corner. The flat sculptures series People Sitting by the Window is made by small panels of sheet glass and mirrors collaged by the Tiffany glass technique, with delicate hand-engraved drawings on some of the mirror surfaces. The image of the works just resembles the windows in everyday life that reveal many mundane worlds and the restless cycles of seasons.

In this exhibition, Apartment - A Pair of Cups No.2 - Apt 410 is an installation of tea-dyed translucent glass cups suspended above an old wooden chair, surrounded by dim pendant lights and floating handkerchiefs. Another version of this work, Apartment - A Pair of Cups No.2 - Apt 685, is on view at the Shanghai Museum of Glass. The light and shadows of the glass solidify the impressions of old objects that are easily overlooked in everyday life. They appear under different times and places, telling stories of intertwined moments. A sufficient sense of narrative flows through Du’s works, precisely because her works utilize a rich visual language to unfold vivid pictures.

The French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941) argued that time has two faces. He termed the concept of time recognized by common sense as “objective time” and the time of our inner subjective experience as “la durée (duration)”, the “lived time”. Only the “duration” is the “real” time felt, lived, and acted, which properly describes the interpenetration of moments and articulates the intensity of consciousness. Bergson believed that the more we enter the recesses of our consciousness, the less the concept of “objective time” applies. The storytelling of writers and artists often concentrates on and manipulates “lived time”, either by expanding a few minutes to a large volume of content or by compressing a long period of time to a brief statement. Du’s series of 10 works, Drifting in the Woods, Silent in the Valley, are just like 10 sections of her “lived time.” Having been working closely with glass as a creative material for many years, the artist has developed a tender empathy and self-projection towards the material’s qualities, feeling that she can “see herself in the glass bottles that can be found everywhere in life.” As a consequence, the artist collected discarded glass bottles that have ended their functional life to create Drifting in the Woods, Silent in the Valley, expecting their journeys to continue forward. In this group of works, the order and time of creation is not essential. All that really matters is the context in which each piece was created.

If one observes several works by Du simultaneously, one will find that these fragments of narratives can vaguely form a holistic structure with implicit interconnections. This nature of narrativity in Du’s works can be compared to the narrative style, “constellation”, mentioned by the 2018 Nobel Prize winner, Polish author Olga Tokarczuk, in her award-winning book Flights. Instead of using the linear passage of time as the clues to the story, this narrative style weakens the importance of the sequence of events and disrupts their order to build the narrative connection from other aspects of the events. For example, the narratives of events linked by space, characters, and elements of the event are in adjacent chapters, but the chapters are not chronological at all. In Tokarczuk’s own words, “Constellation, not sequencing, carries truth.”

“constellation” narrative structure in Du’s works to a conspicuous and compelling level through a visual presentation that can only be achieved in real space. Rather than arranging the works in a sequential way, the exhibition intends to detect hidden bonds and resonances between the works and between their creative narratives. Interspersing stories and sparking conversations, the show puts the view in the midst of a constellation of stories, oblivious to the laws of advancing time. “There is no beginning and no end, just a constant change of new forms, from formation to decomposition, from decomposition to formation, from birth to extinction, from extinction to birth, ad infinitum.” The spatial atmosphere of the exhibition is similar to a mysterious private room, with old furniture and books as the display pedestals for the artworks. Lighting is slightly dark, and many details are perceptible as hints of the presence of stories and memories.



from January 28, 2023 to April 16, 2023

Opening Reception on 2023-01-28 from 15:00 to 19:00


Meng Du

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