Whatchu Looking at 看什么看 | 睇乜嘢

Sun Yitian

June 11 – August 8, 2020

MINE PROJECT is proud to present Beijing-based artist Sun Yitian’s first solo exhibition, a series of paintings with a lush, glossy sensibility derived from the tradition of pop art.

Her plastic toys and cartoonish objects become deliciously appealing to look at; hiding behind these facades are subtle reminders of our estrangement from the world that our lives take place within. Some paintings, like “Four Play,” are split into several panels, which heightens a sense of artificiality, their multiple faces introducing us to a new social life of the image, a highly suspect framing of banal images. Other multi-panel works, like “Gun” or “Superhero,” allow their subject matter to dissolve into abstraction, using scale and composition to explore where the optical becomes unrecognizable. The signified is erased, leaving in its place a layer of pure signifier empty of form.

Sun Yitian’s painting to date is dominated by various sorts of products, from toys and tools to other everyday objects. For the artist, these products unite producer and consumer through the desiring market, reflecting the entire chain of capitalist imagination and production in a way that reflects the condition of modernity itself. In each slick plastic surface, we confront the fantasy of “progress”: this is what the social apparatus has been fine-tuned to churn out. This is the fulfilment of the promise of modernity—such as it is.

In the most recent series, “Void,” inflatable plastic animals are pictured in diptych format. In one image, the toy is presented in its entirety. In the other, it has become invisible, leaving behind only the ultra-stylized black-and-white eyeballs. The animals themselves are random, from chickens and ducks to bears and monkeys. These portraits are not about the animals at all, but rather the process of human imagination or design that produces these altered (even perverted) versions. What we see reflected here has nothing to do with nature; instead, it’s our own bizarre vision of ourselves. We are left staring at our own reflection—seeing our own eyes.

About the Artist
Sun Yitian (b.1991, Zhejiang, China) works across a diverse range of media- from painting, installation to performance. Her work has been exhibited internationally at venues including The Metropolitan Pavilion in New York, the Macau Museum of Art and the Lion Palias in Berlin etc.

Sun Yitian received her MFA in 2018 following her BFA in 2015 from Central Academy of Fine Arts, China. She lives and works in Beijing.