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Tao Hui: Searing Pain at Aranya Art Center

September 4, 2022–February 5, 2023

Searing Pain, the first complete solo museum exhibition by Chinese artist Tao Hui, is proudly presented by Aranya Art Center. Searing Pain examines Tao’s revolutionary videos and installations from the first ten years of his career. The 18 pieces on display in this exhibition were created between 2013 and 2022, and they include works like the installation Untitled (wind cups) (2017) and the video installation White Building (2019) that have never been seen in mainland China as well as three groups of brand-new pieces supported and created by Aranya Art Center, including the film The Night of Peacemaking, a large-scale sculpture called The Fall, and the photographic series Untitled (Holographic Building 06 & 07)

Tao Hui, who now resides and works in Beijing, was born in the Chinese mountain village of Yunyang, not far from Chongqing, in 1987. Tao distills and combines personal recollections, media, and popular culture into innovative visual narratives and filmmaking techniques. A sense of misplacement permeates all of his work, and it is explored through topics like social identity, gender, race, and cultural crisis. He creates melodramatic, bizarre, and paradoxical scenes with metaphor-heavy characters. Tao makes clear the experiences we have in common today and forces us to examine our own cultural backgrounds, circumstances, and subjectivities.

Tao is a prolific writer who works in tandem with his artistic activities and writes the majority of the scripts for his own video works. The title of the exhibition is taken from his unfinished novel Toad Bell, in which a young male laborer and a middle-aged female factory worker who are both looking for companionship cross paths. The artist’s most recent publication will be made available in conjunction with the exhibition by Aranya Art Center and Aranya Library, and the artist’s most recent audio creation will be featured on the podcast LandingOnAir.

The Aranya Waves Film Festival will take place at the same time as Searing Pain’s premiere. The exhibition Searing Pain will run from September 4, 2022, through February 5, 2023. Damien Zhang, the director of the Aranya Art Center, and Wang Jiaming work together to plan the exhibition.

Searing Pain

From above, a snake drops and explodes into fragments. Only the tail is left. Tao Hui’s latest sculpture, The Fall (2022), was commissioned for his solo show Searing Pain at the Aranya Art Center. Despite being best recognized for his experimental movies and videos, Tao has been creating sculptures since 2010. In the 2010 piece Autocastration, a snake’s tail is driven by an internal motor that rotates at a constant speed and produces an ear-piercing yip that mimics the agonizing groan of self-mutilation. Think of the smooth, polished skin of the tail. What have we got here? Is it a reservoir of emotion or a conduit for narcissism? The young artist then casts an inquisitive stare in the direction of his own body.

Although it is a difficult exercise for the human eye to distinguish a snake’s tail from its body, Tao’s delicately caressed “tail” is not necessary for humans. The artwork serves as a metaphor for the artist’s ongoing inquiry into the effects of today’s heavily mediated world. He explores both the individual and societal levels of our emotional excesses and nostalgic relics. These emotionally charged characters weave together a shared fate of potholed roads and unrequited love, as well as the agony of being “left behind,” whether it be the Iranian actress dressed in bridal attire in The Dusk of Tehran (2014), the middle-aged woman wearing kitsch floral dress in Pulsating Atom (2019), or the lonely figure speaking into the void over his phone in Hello, Finale! (2017).

Tao had his own highs and lows as he traveled from Beijing to the serene mountain village of Yunyang in Chongqing. His artistic inspiration comes from experiences from his personal life. As Roberto Bolao aptly puts it in The Savage Detectives, “My role in it will flicker like a grain of dust between the light and the dark, between laughter and sadness.”

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Media contact: Liangjiao Gao, [email protected] / T +86 138 1143 1757.

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