Song Ling @ Niagara Galleries

Song Ling Tiger Headed Hat 2009

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Dear Diary,

I would readily sum up Song Ling’s exhibition at the Niagara Gallery as the exploration of the artist’s identity – not an Australian one (Koala, 2009) or Chinese one (Childhood, 2009), but that of a citizen of the cosmopolitan nation of artists.

His well-composed and colourful paintings appropriate the American Pop Art (Lichtenstein’s ben-dots), Chinese social-realist propaganda art, and Western-style gestural figuration. There is even an Aboriginal dot-painting motif detectable in some of his works.

Song Ling Adventurer 2009 The artist inevitably references the commercialisation of Chinese culture in the images of Buddha, oriental ceramics, and the eternally smiling Beneton-style Chinese children. The paintings featuring catsand dogs display Song Ling’s knowledge of animal kinetics. They also reference Chinese mythology, which carries on to the artist’s extensive use of birds – another utilisation of a Chinese symbol. And while no contemporary exhibition seems complete nowadays without a skull (Conversation 1 and 2), this universal symbol of death and transience is particularly poignant in Ling’s paintings, given the Buddhist take on death and rebirth. The skulls dissolve In Still Life series into shapeless ink-blots, which reference simultaneously Western psychology (Rorschach test) and Eastern aesthetics (calligraphy and chance).

Song Ling Conversation 2 2009In spite of the seemingly haphazard placement of elements, eclectic mixture of cultural influences, and diverse painterly techniques, paintings undoubtedly work as a whole in terms of composition and colour balance. Looser painterly technique and drips of pigment inject a feeling of energy and vitality into every work. One cannot help but leave the exhibition feeling joyous and uplifted.

[© Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg 2010. This article is copyright, but the full or partial use is WELCOME with the full and proper acknowledgment.]

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Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

February 2010


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