Nestled in Miami's Ironside neighborhood is the first U.S. show of one of the most promising young abstract artists of his generation. Chinese painter Jin Junjie creates three-dimensional canvasses embellished with colorful reliefs. The collection of compact work, aptly titled "Small Paintings (2012-2018)," presents a highly labored process.
Junjie works by carefully layering colors atop one another and waiting for each to dry before applying the next. He then skillfully carves into the surface, creating an assemblage of negative spaces. The result is a mixture of hues and shapes that reflect the artist’s inward journey rather than a mirror of his surroundings.
The show not only marks Junjie’s first show outside China but also represents the growing consciousness of a new generation of Chinese artists looking to distinguish their work by breaking with convention. And for his gallerist, the exhibition marks a return showing in the city after a yearlong absence.
“The young artists in China are departing from the older generation of painters concerned with politics and pop,” Art Lexïng founder and director Lexïng Zhang explains. “While their work remains popular in the West, Junjie’s paintings look more into himself than to the world around him.”
Art Lexïng is an international agency that creates platforms for young and emerging creative talent to display their work to new audiences. With bases in Shanghai, Paris, London, Mexico City, and Miami, Art Lexïng straddles three continents. The organization was founded in Miami in 2010 by Zhang as a traditional brick-and-mortar gallery space, introducing young voices from China and Europe to the city’s burgeoning art world. In 2016, Zhang moved from Miami to Mexico City, where she curates exhibitions out of her Roma Norte outpost.
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The introspective exhibition is imbued with a sense of meditative calm punctuated by effervescent jolts of color. These indentations destroy the stability of the surface, leading to unexpected results for both viewer and artist. The act of painting then becomes active experimentation with a flair of childlike whimsy. Though relatively small, some canvasses are packed with rich embellishments that have a rhythm all their own. The oval indentations Junjie creates seem to be suffused with meaning, and taken together, they amount to a visual language of the artist’s making. It’s a style he refined in a young career marked by solo and group exhibitions at museums, art fairs, and galleries around China.
Born in Hunan, China, Junjie studied painting at the prestigious Arts Institution of Tianjin. His career has been marked by periods of intermittent production — he has exhibited work at Shandong Art Museum, Guangxi Art Museum, Dong Wu Shi Exhibition Hall, and others. He splits his time between Nanning and Shenzhen.
"In the gallery, we [take] pride in presenting different voices," Zhang says. "Jin's works at first might not fit in the contemporary Chinese art genre, which has been associated with politics and revolts. But Jin's works manifest the essence of traditional Chinese philosophy and hypnotize you with a transcendent quality."
"Small Paintings." Through April 2 at Art Lexïng, 7520 NE Fourth Ct., Suite 106, Miami; artlexing.com. Admission is free.