International Space Station
Acrylic and spray paint on canvas
210 x 500 cm (82 5/8 x 196 7/8 in) (overall)
210 x 250 cm (82 5/8 x 98 3/8 in) (each panel, 2 parts)
Signed and dated on verso
International Space Station is a five-meter long canvas almost entirely dominated by a color field of black dots, signifying the vastness of space. The ISS is reduced to its skeletal contours in the far left of the canvas, delineated by faint wisps of color in glinting, muted shades. The earth below is similarly pared down, to a black arc streaked across the bottom of the pictorial surface. One is reminded of the largely invisible and increasingly inescapable infrastructures of surveillance, WIFI networks and virtual technologies that have so powerfully reshaped our experience of contemporary everyday life.
While the urban metropolis has been the main subject of her paintings thus far, works such as International Space Station (2019) indicate her conceptual as well as artistic and technical shift towards an expanded definition of architecture, or rather, landscape. Indeed, Cui has always considered herself a ‘landscape painter’ above all else.
Cui Jie (b. 1983 Shanghai, China) applies various layers of images – some realistic, some imaginary – on her canvases, exploring multiple perspectives of various locations simultaneously. Each layer is meticulously executed to represent the transformation of China’s urbanscape. Painted with calculated and deadpan brushwork combined with a warm and affective palette, Cui’s landscapes and interiors make comparative studies of cities as distinctive models or laboratories of China’s open-and-reform policies. This is depicted as a personal history informed by the aesthetic madness in one time and place, ranging from the architectural confusion of Bauhaus, to Chinese propaganda, and to Soviet communist aesthetics. In essence, Cui Jie’s painting is a time capsule that re-imagines the past and the present.
(Text: Wenny Teo, 2019)