CAR Gallery is thrilled to announce The Dream of the Black Chamber the first solo exhibition in Italy by Chinese artist Bu Shi (Yunnan, China, 1993), which features a body of previously unseen works specially created for the show. The selection is emblematic of the young painter's refined figurative experimentation, focused on the elaboration of an intriguing hypothesis of intersection between Eastern aesthetics, Western art history, and the free crossing of the unconscious. From a technical point of view, the artist's main field of inquiry is the detection of the imperceptible gradations of dark tone, understood both as light and as painterly material. The color, predominantly egg tempera bound with rabbit glue and fixed with Chinese lacquer, is applied on characteristic small wooden panels, on which we see mysterious, uninhabited rooms emerge from the darkness. As our eyes become accustomed to penetrate their superficial penumbra, we discover that they are dotted with symbolic objects and unsettling details.
From a thick paint, which is almost esoterically prepared and then polished with silk until it reaches its ideal consistency, perspective illusions, material preciousness, calligraphic engravings and scale incongruities slowly emerge, condensing into a mystery the multiplicity of visual references and suggestions that Bu Shi draws from.
The exhibition title paraphrases “The Dream of the Red Chamber" by Cao Xueqin, considered by scholars to be one of the fundamental novels from classical Chinese literature, written during the reign of Emperor Qianlong and published in 1792, thirty years after the author's death. As in the book the multiplication of intertwined situations transmits a rich heritage of aesthetic notations on the exhausted aristocracy from that time, to which the protagonists of the story belong, so in Bu Shi's paintings we find a distillate of visual delicacies that seem to proliferate almost by budding from one another, which derive from a precise and detailed observation of the most cultured artistic repertoires from Eastern and Western traditions, as well as the natural curiosities that the artist loves to collect. The young painter's "black chambers" are enigmatic wunderkammer in which time is suspended in a tenebrous chromatic paste, which ignites the desire to see beyond and through. Bu Shi's dream is therefore that of a painting which, seeking its essence in a liminal zone between perception and invention, delves into the most hidden rooms of the invisible to aspire to the sublime.
With a text by Emanuela Zanon