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Nutshell Theater

2024.02.24 - 2024.04.03

Artist: Shao Yuxuan, Wu Ang, Zheng Lanxiong

There are limits to the artists’ emotions, energy and creative possibilities. There is a misunderstanding here - it is often assumed that the wash of 'time' (which in this case, ‘time’ can be seen as all external practices and transformations), although it can bring valuable experience to fill the empty core (perhaps helping the germination and development of artistic creation), at the same time, it also polishes and solidifies its shell. Thus many artists are determined to "break through that cramped and closed field" as their own responsibility, and aspire to reach the state of "a little bit of refinement every day, and then they can do something.” "Pain (which is not a feeling of emptiness due to a sense of limitation, but rather resentment due to the failure to achieve a certain imaginary realm) and less-than-realistic artistic creations are often accompanied by such inverted perceptions. It should be accepted that we are all "hollow men" on an assembly line, that "time" is the fixed process by which the world factory mould us into shells (whether gold or diamond) and that our end is predetermined. 

“We are the hollow men

  We are the stuffed men”


Once we realize this absurdity, it is not difficult to understand why Tereza searched naked in front of a mirror to find out where her soul was hidden - the same is true for artists, who need to distance themselves from the experience of "time" even if they depend on it! - Only in this way can the artist give up the pursuit of infinite freedom and expansion under the established proposition that "human beings have limitations", and instead change from thinking about how to fill the empty shell to asking how to fill the "hollow".

However, this is never easy, and even against the nature of the desire for transcendence that is engraved in human genes directly, it can be seen as a form of asceticism. Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet - "O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams." The seemingly bittersweet lines actually provide a feasible channel for artists, even if they cannot break through the "nutshell", they can still set up a stage and stand on their own feet, so as to avoid being dissolved by external pressures. The title of "Nutshell Theater” which is inspired by this (not a derivative of Deleuze's "Philosophical Theatre" theory) - it's almost a clear metaphor for the artists' attempt to understand and interpret It is almost a metaphor for the artists' attempts to understand and interpret their lives - from a past self to today's self, what an experiential condensation - all to be put into a circular performance in the middle of the "Nutshell Theater”.

In this exhibition, three artists with completely different backgrounds dramatically use figurative methods to express their understanding of "image" in small-sized canvases or installations. Wu Ang, who used to be more of a poet and novelist, transfers the realm of books to her paintings. Contrary to agai’s statement that she is "not ambitious at all", Wu Ang has already naturally passed the stage of "ambiguity and temptation" at the initial stage of her entry into this field. "One by one, the strange characters can't wait to get into the theatre, like images conjured up from lines of text in novels (including non-existent novels), Wu Ang suspends herself and fills out her own script by writing and depicting other people's stories. Zheng Lanxiong's perspective is more focused and discreet, like a peephole in a tube, however he always able to accurately capture and reproduce the subtleties of life. Images serve as an entry point for his work, but they are not important - Zheng Lanxiong never deliberately seeks to interpret or expand images, but rather focuses on his personal life experiences and emotional ties. Shao Yuxuan (木一) is wary of creation, but there is also a pre-prepared confrontation - he uses symbolic creations to resist symbols, and also opposes interpretation in his interpretation of images - this is the more barbaric approach, as interpretation today makes art more docile and controllable, refusing to turn the artwork into something else in order to make it exist as an independent. In contrast to the uniformity of the "nutshell", the forms in which artists fill the "hollow" in the limited "theater" are different but vivid.

“Time-tempered ferocity, but with tolerance increased all-embracing doubt.

He sat in the darkness in front of the puppet theatre and watched the chases, prayers, puff and subservience, while recognizing his own stupidity.”

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