China - Feng Feng

In the current of new independent Chinese art, Feng Feng has a place of his own due to his ability to interpret the iconic strength of certain great visual symbols. His smoking or illuminated brain, for example, is a reliable sculpture that speaks about us. He conceived it at a time when he was desperately trying to give up smoking and his mind was obsessed by the idea of a cigarette: hence this porcelain object (a lucid organic material that excellently expresses the gelatinous consistency of a brain), in which lit incense sticks are inserted so that smoke issues from many little holes. Instead the brain that lights up is a table lamp, currently a prototype, which the artist is designing for the Chinese equivalent of Ikea. His Ming Palace (2008-9) is an important public work of vegetal architecture in which an entire small wood, planted on the site where an imperial palace of the Ming dynasty once stood, has been shaped by pruning into the form of the building that no longer exists; as they grow, the plants continuously tend to escape from these imposed boundaries, altering the lines of the architecture, and the job of keeping them recognisable with periodic pruning implies an exercise of memory and rethinking that cannot only be done once, as in the case of bronze monuments, but must be constant and continuous, entrusting it always to the awareness of new people.

With his wife Biao Biao, who is also an artist, Feng Feng has produced an exhibition entitled Canton/Canton, an experiment in dialogue with the creativeness of the public through the famous “rabbit or duck?” image made known by studies of the psychology of perception.

The W fountain, presented at OPEN 14 in dialogue with the event Cracked Culture? The Quest for Identity in Contemporary Chinese Art, needs no explanations: its theme is certainly the pollution created in China by the spread of western fast-food; but the playful delicacy of the piece, and the underlying sympathy that the artist reveals for the colour and shape of this American symbol, which despite everything is so successfully iconic and visually captivating, denote a very up to date sensitivity.


Text by
Gloria Vallese