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Robert Mapplethorpe in Aranya Plein Air Art Project

10 July—29 October 2023
Group Exhibition at Aranya Art Center, Jin Shan Ling, China

Aranya is pleased to present its first public art initiative, aranya plein air art project (APA). The inaugural edition will take place in the valley of Aranya Jin Shan Ling, at the foot of the Great Wall of China.

APA 2023 invites 21 Chinese and international artists to present unique artworks along three hiking trails, in dialogue with the natural landscape and cultural heritage at aranya jin shan ling. Nine of the participating artists have been commissioned to create new works. APA 2023 is organized by Damien Zhang, director of the Aranya Art Center.

List of artists: Katinka Bock, Alina Chaiderov, Chen Ruofan, Chen Xiaoyi, Isabelle Cornaro, Tony Cragg, Ding Yi, Sylvie Fleury, Tom Friedman, Christine Sun Kim, Liang Shuo, Richard Long, Robert Mapplethorpe, Nabuqi, Prinz Gholam, Charles Ray, Su Chang, Vivian Suter, Michelle Wang Yiyi, Haegue Yang, David Zink Yi.

Robert Mapplethorpe is one of the most groundbreaking photographers of the 20th century, who not only tested the boundaries of his medium but created images that captured the essence of the cultural landscape of his time. His prodigious and powerful body of work consists of editioned, large-format photographic prints that simultaneously adhere to and challenge classical aesthetics, while reinventing the traditional genres of portraiture, the still life and the nude.

In the early 1970s, Mapplethorpe began taking Polaroid pictures, enjoying the immediacy of this new medium. While evoking at times a sense of intimacy and tenderness, at others a toughness and directness, these gave way to more classical forms in the mid-1970s, when Mapplethorpe began using a Hasselblad 500. He photographed participants in New York's underground subcultures, using the camera as a subversive tool to portray an underground community, in rebellion against the conservative values that dominated American society. He revolutionised his medium by investing this explicit imagery with an unexpected formality and beauty.