Faurschou Foundation

Jens Faurschou is a collector and art consultant based in Copenhagen. In 2011 he established the Faurschou Foundation with the aim of supporting artists and promoting intercultural dialogue and international exchange, in particular between East and West. The Foundation has two main areas of activity: the acquisition of significant contemporary works of art for its private collection and the organization of museum-level exhibitions around the world.

The Faurschou Foundation is based in Copenhagen, but has opened two of its exhibition spaces in Beijing and New York. Over the years Faurschou has involved and supported numerous artists, including: Ai Weiwei, Louise Bourgeois, Cai Guo-Qiang, Tracey Emin, Anselm Kiefer, Liu Wei, Paul McCarthy, Shirin Neshat, Gabriel Orozco, Bill Viola and Danh Vo. Now, the Foundation hosts in Beijing the Bag of Candles exhibition, the first solo show in China of Zachary Armstrong (born in Dayton in 1984, lives in Dayton, Ohio).

Armstrong’s narrative is a mixture of several ideas; it draws its roots from childhood memories and then transforms the biographical data into a magnifying glass that takes to heart the most obsolete aspects of the American province, the nostalgic excerpts taken from popular imagerie, quotes from natural history, literature and art history. Of course, each of these ideas is then enlarged and modified, a bit like Lichtenstein did when he took fragments of comics to raise them to icons of modernity.

For this event, Armstrong created a new body of work, transforming the Faurschou Beijing space into a personal microcosm of cross-references to his own life and American culture. These new works include a walk-in model of a sectioned house, as in a full-size architectural model, a bronze casting of a life-size T-rex skull, an extensive wall installation and a new series of paintings. All these works, as his usual practice, allude to the life and childhood of the artist, as well as to popular culture and the history of art, establishing dialogic bridges between the artworks and making sure that their dialogue is readable between the lines also as a subtle criticism of the commodified and standardized contemporary society.

In fact, goods are always dealt with in these works, making sure that in some way their presence can be assumed to register a world where the pop icon can triumph in every detail. The extensive wall installation (which can recall not only the works of Haim Steinbach, but also the large rooms of an old grocery store) is composed of shelves grouped with bags of wax candles, vases, lamps, sketches and drawings. Wax candles form the heart of the exhibition, as wax is the key material in many of the works exhibited here. As the author states: “The candles are a symbol of childhood memories. I collected them and a lot of other things as a child. At the same time, they also serve as a symbol of the obsessive collecting, which is inherent in the exhibition and the contemporary world at large “.

The four large paintings that complete the exhibition path are made with the so-called “encaustic painting” technique (in fact a reintroduction of the old Pompeian technique since the mystery of those wall paintings has never been completely clarified), where layers of beeswax are mixed with the pigment, in order to give body and brightness to the pictorial surface. The technique had already been revived and popularized by artists such as Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock and Lynda Benglis. In two paintings, Armstrong focuses on two icons of American popular culture: Norman Rockwell and Ian Miller. In another, he refers to the Renaissance painter Pieter Bruegel, while the last large canvas is inhabited by the recurring motif of the great dinosaur.

There is no shortage of ideas for curiosity to visit this exhibition so there is no shortage, perhaps there is no lack of opportunities to embark on a journey without the worry of running into some more lethal virus than the T-rex.

Fabio Fabris

Info:

Zachary Armstrong. “Bag of Candles”
15 January – 13 June 2021
Faurschou Foundation
798 Art District
Beijing, Cina
beijing@faurschou.com

Faurschou Foundation: Zachary Armstrong nel suo studio, davanti all’opera del 2019 Big Fish after Bruegel, ph courtesy the ArtistZachary Armstrong in his studio, in front of the artwork Big Fish after Bruegel (2019), ph courtesy the Artist

Zachary Armstrong, Maximo, 2018-2019, bronze, 92 x 84 x 150 cm. Photo by Jonathan Leijonhufvud © Faurschou Foundation

Installation view of Zachary Armstrong: Bag of Candles, Faurschou Beijing, 2021. Photo by Jonathan Leijonhufvud © Faurschou Foundation

Installation view of Zachary Armstrong: Bag of Candles, Faurschou Beijing, 2021. Photo by Jonathan Leijonhufvud © Faurschou Foundation


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