On Spaceship Rembrandt

Li Songsong at Pace Beijing is the Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik

The Daily Pic: Li Songsong, an old master back from the future.

(Photo by Blake Gopnik)

At Pace gallery in Beijing, the well-known Chinese artist Li Songsong is presenting this strange sculpture/painting/installation. It consists of 91 oddly shaped aluminum panels (many look like the staircase that folds into the fuselage of a small jet) all covered in Li’s signature thick paint and assembled as a tunnel. It’s kind of Frank Auerbach meets Space 1999, and it’s not easy to parse what it might mean or even why it was made – except that it looks fine, and is consistently intriguing. It seems to invest the ancient medium of oil paint with some of the utopian energy of SciFi modernism – which actually makes for a fairly poignant combination, mixing the old-old with the old-new.

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