Adam Robbins

Ethereal paintings in the hutong evoke our shared humanity

Together with Aotu Studio, Jiali Gallery and Meridian Space form a central corridor of art in the heart of the city. Everyone in the neighborhood should be checking out these spaces regularly.
Their latest contribution to Beijing is the summoning of Charlotte Guibé, recently of Paris, for a cultural exchange with Ren Bo, a Chinese visual artist, and Belinda Cannone, a French writer. For two weeks, they talk, show off their work, and ruminate on where their work overlaps. Guibé doesn’t plan to create new art while she’s in town, but instead plays the muse to the other two. Her existing work, exhibited at Jiali Gallery as “Comme une presence” and available for viewing Thursdays through Saturdays, provides plenty of fodder for thoughtful discussion.
Her latest paintings are marked by two characteristics. The first is her technique of watering down her acrylics, leaving the medium impressively pliable to the artist’s desires. Here it resembles watercolors, layered to intimate depth; there it resembles spay paint, arcing in delicate designs. The second characteristic is the ghostly figure that appears behind her layers of color. Painted from her photos or online discoveries, each face anchors the abstractions and gives the mind a starting point from which to speculate on the painting’s narrative. These faces are the “presence” of the title, shades of white on white that haunt the artist and threaten to haunt us, too.
Artistic expression, an ever-expanding wonder of the human mind, is a pillar of our shared humanity. Whether as artists, subjects, or audience, we and countless others like us have a role to play. Art needs people.
As Guibé plays with color and form, finding satisfying shades and shapes, her injection of these myriad faces reminds us of the connection we share. These are faces we could see in our community, sometimes fading from view, sometimes obscured by all the undefined stuff that comes between us. When we come together and peer into these faces, we’re part of something bigger. A better, more creative world can be ours if we remember humanity’s deepest connections.

“Comme une presence” at Jiali Gallery. through june 6

Adam Robbins for “City Week End” Beijing. 2015