Beijing-based multidisciplinary artist Miao Xiaochun has been relentlessly expanding the boundaries of photography into the realm of new media. His most recent work involves the development of paintings from the canon of Western art history into computer models. These works are expanded from their two-dimensional origins into a rich virtual space complete with enhanced depth and volume. The resulting large-scale photographs retain the semblance of the historical work, but are freed from past temporal associations to become ephemeral and utterly contemporary.
The 21st century visual language and means employed by Miao Xiaochun in Microcosm convey burning issues of the contemporary world: environmental crisis, violence, wars, and the necessity for human cooperation. Without delving into the meanings of a plethora of Bosch's allegories, Miao Xiaochun constructs a world of radically different metaphors by changing the content, figures, background and facilities. As the artist says, the allegories in Microcosm "reflect modern people's views on life and death, their desires, and their view on humans' weaknesses." They are also embodiments of the artist's personal feelings and reflections.
The large-scale nine-panel installation, Microcosm, is based on Hieronymus Bosch's 15th century masterpiece, The Garden of Earthly Delights. Microcosm is an imaginative reinvention of the sumptuous landscape of sin, salvation, and tawdry visions of those who never made it to paradise. The structure and narrative pattern of Bosch's triptych, such as the architecture of heaven, earth and hell, as well as the basic forms of Bosch's pictures, have been preserved in Miao Xiaochun's work. But new digital means and computer technologies have allowed Miao Xiaochun to explore a contemporary visual vocabulary. He abolishes the traditional fixed single-point perspective aesthetic, instead favoring the Chinese tradition of multiple points of view in a single landscape. By employing these different views in creating a three-dimensional transposition of The Garden of Earthly Delights, Miao Xiaochun creates a tangled and complex structure with nine panels. The relationship between six side wings and three front panels means the viewer can view hell from heaven, and can also see heaven from hell. The spectator is encouraged to physically move about the work and discover hidden pleasures from new vantage points.
Miao Xiaochun (b. 1964) studied at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 1989, before finishing advanced studies in Kassel, Germany. Miao Xiaochun's works have appeared in landmark exhibitions of contemporary Chinese art: Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China, the 2005 Guangzhou Photo International Biennale, the 2008 Busan Biennale, Thermocline of Art - New Asian Waves, and Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection. He is considered to be one of the most high-profiled photographers, not only in the contemporary Chinese art scene but also in the latest international trends in photography. The themes of his art mainly revolve around the modern man, who is torn between tradition and visions of the future: On the one hand there is the familiar, yet at the same time already “outlived”, and on the other the things still to come, all that is new, which seems both alluring and terrifying at the same time.
In addition to the partly larger than life-sized photographs presented on folding screens, the exhibition also includes the film on Miao Xiaochun’s photoepic, as well as his latest photo series “Beijing Index” (2009). An exhibition catalogue will be published in German and English.