Recently I was asked to write my first catalogue essay for the work of Chen Ping – an artist who works in both Australia and Beijing (pictured here with me at the opening of his exhibition, September 2012). The essay was an exhibition titled Complex Emotions to be held at ArtEquity. I had never written anything like this before so approached the task with both some trepidation and excitement.
I had seen Ping’s work before and had loved it but was challenged with the idea of writing about ‘art’: for art is not something that you can really describe, but rather something that you must sense, see and feel. After spending time in the gallery for a private showing of the work and a having a long conversation with Ping, I began to reflect on the role of art in our society.
In our neoliberal world, the value of art is strictly measured in utilitarian terms – and these are usually financial. The artist – be it a poet, playwright, painter or sculptor – offers us more than something that has financial value. In the work we often find an interpretation of our world.
The more I looked at Ping’s art, the more it forced me to reflect on the connection and disconnection we experience with those around us, both friends and strangers, as well as the relationships we build with the human and non-human Other. The essay I wrote is also titled Complex Emotions and attempts to respond to these thoughts and the role of art in our society (and is available here…)