LOS ANGELES — Things are not what they seem in Culver City’s Carmichael Gallery. At first glance, the inscrutable smiles in Beijing-based artist Yue Minjun’s self-portraits express mirth or merriment.
Aiko’s recent exhibition at Andrew James Fine Art in Shanghai was actually made entirely in that Chinese city while she participated in the gallery’s residency program. This locality lends the work a different significance, a home-grown quality that’s reflected in the mix-in of Shanghai street signs and graphic elements. What we see is not so much a heroic, tragic artist struggling to produce a masterpiece, but a practicing artist reflecting the time and the place she occupies.
Song Zhuang is basically a dusty main road. The village’s one bus stop straddles the big street with a rusty orange awning on either side; one sides goes back to the city, the other runs still farther out to smaller villages. On either side of the road stretch art galleries, studio complexes and art supply stores, complete with figures stretching enormous canvases outside on the sidewalk, ready for sale inside. If you thought Chelsea was something along the lines of an art mass production machine, think again.