My earliest memory is that of a dream. It was in the apartment where we lived when I was three or four years. I dreamed I was asleep in the smallest room overlooking the inner courtyard. I awoke and stood in the living room. The lights were on, although it was hushed and empty. The usual dark green sofa and chairs stood along the usual pale ocre walls. It was the same old living room as ever, I knew it well, nothing was out of place. And yet it was utterly, certainly, different. Inside its usual appearance the living room was as changed as if had gone mad.
Looking at Jingze Du’s body of work, this dream has recovered itself to me. I think because his paintings seem to bespeak the situation of looking at a well-known figure (an ox, a giraffe), except that there is, somehow, something very strange. Alongside the canvases depicting the bust of animals, the exhibition includes a small-sized work titled ‘Helmet’, which represents a human head, although the viewer is left puzzling wether the helmet is just the bone of an object, or it truly contains someone’s body.
In her beautifully written essay “Every exit is an entrance”, Anne Carson speaks of sleep as a glimpse of something incognito1, something unrecognized that may cross over from night to day and change the life of the sleeper. As a sort of revelation, a dream could ultimately drawn upon our relation with other animals, recognising them as our fellows, our neighbours, rather than defining them as something oppositional. Having subtle tonal differences between the warmer and the colder greys, the misty images which Du creates appear to be the fruit of such a night’s dream.
The artist stated in a recent interview2 his interest in the space between various extremes: strenght and weakness; fast and slow; external and internal; masculine and femenine. In addition, we could also interrogate the boundary between being human and animal, developing a new kind of subjectivity tinted by a palette of warmer and colder greys, with accents of yellow.
1. Anne Carson. Decreation. Poetry, Essays, Opera. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2005.
2. An interview between Steve Turner and Jingze Du on the occasion of his exhibition ‘In Between’ at Steve Turner LA.