Material Narration – Exhibition of Stefan Annerel and Yiran Chen.
Opening Date: 30 June 2023
Exhibition Period: 1 July – 30 Aug 2023
Venue: The Belgian House
Address: The Belgian House, Changle Road Lane 672, No 33, Shanghai

Belgian artist Stefan Annerel, graduated from Ghent Academy of Visual Arts, is currently living and working in Antwerp, Belgium. In his works, those daily objects in life may be a plastic bag, a piece of cloth, a page of a book, or a piece of memory are used as art material, locked by resin into the picture like the natural development of amber. These pictures always attract the viewer to explore layer by layer. They wonder which layer is wood, which layer is glass, which layer is painting, and which materials are mixed in it. Often people get lost in the continuous exploration of the grid. In the article of “Stefan Annerel’s alchemy” by art critic Danny Ilegems, he mentioned “Like in an apparently pitch-black surface by Rothko the yellow from five layers deeper still resonates. Like an agitated, baroque interior by Matthias Weischer often consists of a disorientating multiplicity of soothing areas of colour. We could just as well refer to Stefan Annerel’s abstract art as extremely figurative art, because in this instance the difference between abstract and figurative seems an abstraction.”

Chinese artist Chen Yiran started her multi-dwelling development as a contemporary artist and space designer after obtaining a master’s degree from the Academy of Fine Arts of Tsinghua University and a master’s degree from the School of Design of the Politecnico di Milano in Italy. During her study abroad in Milan, she was deeply impressed by the Milan Cathedral, the most famous marble building in Europe. Every piece of marble is a natural ore metamorphosed by high temperature and high pressure in the earth’s crust. It naturally has a mysterious and long-lasting temperament. It took hundreds of millions of years for natural marble to gradually form and become the stone mine we are familiar with. She became fascinated by marble, a rich and unique material with time memory, and combined these hard stones bestowed by nature with soft everyday materials of human beings in her paintings to create time like the imprint of human life narrative. These works have rich layers and textures, just like overlooking the sea from above or looking at the peaks from the side.

These two artists from the West and the East have formed a dialogue about flowing and frozen time in this exhibition. Instead of seeking the definition of abstract art or figurative art, it is better to study their artistic inspiration from “material”. Their installation paintings seem as narrative of this “material”. Their stories are hard and soft, western and eastern, tangible and intangible.