Shang Chengxiang, born in Shenyang, China, creates bold paintings in which pops of brilliant colors are mixed with surreal imagery. There’s a sense of wonder in the artist’s works, often privately observed or existing outside of human interaction altogether. The artist is part of the group show “FIREFLOWERS” at Art Labor Gallery in Shanghai, running July 2-Aug. 16.
At times, the rainbow effect in these works is similar to thin-film interference, the natural phenomenon in which the top and bottom boundaries of a thin film reflect light, creating an “interference.” Such is the case of the above piece, in which a suited man stares while standing on the flukes of a whale.
In other works, the hues appear as a cloud that billows and escapes from an open space. All of these pieces suggest the artist’s fascination with dream worlds, in which reality is reflected yet quickly distorted by abstract forces. The anonymity of the artist’s human subjects, turned away from the viewer or even shrouded, adds both an uneasiness and universal quality to Shang’s pieces. Shang’s paintings are moments, and though the smoke depicted may evaporate, the artist continues to tap into and celebrate the unconscious with these tangible representations.