‘Das Offene’–‘The Open’, was a concept termed by Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist Rainer Maria Rilke. ‘The Open’ is vision without any hinderances or limitations, of which Rilke argues the “free animal” is capable. Embodying a sense of mysticism evocative of the Surrealists, the term summons obstacles between the internal and external world. Mit allen Augen sieht die Kreatur das Offene.–With all its eyes the creature sees the open. Widely regarded as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets, it is reported that Rilke died open-eyed.
‘Open Up’, the inaugural exhibition of Berlin’s new art space Edmond Gallery, takes Rilke’s poetic adage ‘The Open’ as a starting point to consider the significance of achieving authentic and unimpeded exchanges with art and art-making. Presenting the works of two young Chinese artists, Hu Weiyi and Shen Han, the exhibition title holds a dual significance, serving as a linguistic and conceptual play on ‘The Open’, as well as the process of physically opening a space to the public and new possibilities.
The gallery has brought together Hu Weiyi and Shen Han for their inaugural show as their work, in their own way and with different mediums, investigates our boundaries and brings us to open up to new meanings and perspectives.
Hu Weiyi is a prominent member of what might be called the Very Young Chinese Artists. Born in 1990 in Shangai and a graduate from the Chinese Academy of Art, Weiyi represents a new generation of artists raised solely in a globalised culture. The artist creates hybrid works of photography, video, installation, and sculpture. All woven together by a thin-lighted wire, the works simultaneously invoke the combination of man and machine—the “new man”—and Chinese’s legends of the red thread, coalescing tradition and modernity, past and present identities.
In stark contrast to Weiyi’s quasi-digital installations is the stillness of Shen Han’s oil paintings. A current student at the Universität der Künste Berlin (UDK), Han creates canvases that appear as invisible landscapes inviting sustained contemplation. Employing soft, barely perceptible tones, the delicate mingling of shapes, and back and foreground, invite the viewer into an ambiguous space of interpretation. However, as compositions harmonising colour and form, Han’s works beckon first to be felt, then (if there is time) understood. In a contemporary art world dominated by discourse, criticality, and the act of ‘understanding’, Han’s paintings are a refreshing invitation to stop, empty oneself, and experience the work; to open-up.
Edmond Gallery aims to locate itself in the Berlin art scene as an interdisciplinary space between past and present art forms, and serve as a footing for intercultural exchange between the Chinese and European art community.