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Chinese multidisciplinary artist Wallace Chan returns to Venice in 2024 with sculpture exhibition, Transcendence | 19 April to 30 September 2024

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Friday, 19 April 2024 to Monday, 30 September 2024

Chinese multidisciplinary artist Wallace Chan, who has pioneered titanium’s unprecedented use for large-scale sculptures, returns to Venice for the third time, with Transcendence, a sculpture exhibition on display from 19 April to 30 September 2024, at the Chapel of Santa Maria della Pietà in Venice. 

Transcendence is an installation consisting of four large-scale titanium sculptures suspended from the ceiling of the chapel. The exhibition explores the pursuit of a meditative state and how the mind can transcend the normal limits or boundaries of space and time. In a wider context, it represents the notion of transforming conflicts into opportunities for growth and enlightenment.

As viewers move through the Chapel, the arrangement of the new sculpture series alludes to a progressive transition, from a state of conflict to one of tranquillity. This juxtaposition is emphasised through Chan’s mastery of titanium, an unexpected material that conveys the ethereal,  appearing in a liminal state between liquid and solid. Initiating dialogue with the building’s sacred context and drawing inspiration from Chinese Buddhism, the exhibition also finds natural parallels with its Catholic setting. Inspired by both Christian and Buddhist ideas, Chan sees the universe as ultimately all-embracing. 

Chan says: “Transcendence challenges us to consider our corporeal forms and whether we are able to move beyond them. Titanium is a stubborn and rigid material, one which must be understood before it can be tamed. I regard it as the material closest to eternity, and its use in Transcendence emphasises that the desire to achieve an enlightened state is an eternal one.”

Curator James Putnam says: “This is my third time collaborating with Wallace Chan in Venice, with Transcendence the latest iteration of our explorations of the boundaries between the material and metaphysical. The exhibition is a highly contemplative series, providing viewers the opportunity to transcend from a corporeal earthbound form into the ethereal spiritual realm of Wallace Chan’s work.”

Transcendence follows Chan’s acclaimed September 2023 exhibition, The Wheel of Time, at Christie’s London headquarter, the largest display of his half-a-century art practices to date, encompassing carving, sculpture and jewellery.

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About Wallace Chan

Wallace Chan (b. 1956) is a Hong Kong-based, self-trained artist whose practice encompasses jewellery, sculpture and carving. He has been carving gemstones since the age of 16, drawing his inspiration from nature and Chinese motifs. He developed his skills and learnt the art of Western sculpture by visiting Christian cemeteries and admiring the marble sculptures of saints and angels. After six months of devoted monkhood in the early 2000s and having given up all his possessions, Chan found himself in the complete absence of artistic resources. However, his passion for sculpture compelled him to create works using affordable materials like concrete, copper and stainless steel. After many years of careful research and experimentation, Chan developed a method of working with titanium, initially for his jewellery and more recently for his large-scale sculptures.

 

Chan’s works are in the permanent collections of the Long Museum, Shanghai (2023), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2023), British Museum (2019), the Capital Museum of China (2010), and the Ningbo Museum (2010). 

 

He has had solo exhibitions at Christie’s (London, 2023); Canary Wharf (London, 2022); Fondaco Marcello (Venice, 2022); Fondaco Marcello (Venice, 2021); Asia House (London, 2019); Christie’s (Hong Kong, 2019; Shanghai, 2021), the Gemological Institute of America Museum (Carlsbad, 2011); the Capital Museum (Beijing, 2010); Kaohsiung Museum of History (Taiwan, 1999), and Deutsches Edelsteinmuseum (Idar-Oberstein, 1992).

 

Chan has given lectures and speeches at prestigious institutions, including the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, 2023), Harvard University (Cambridge, 2023), The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Hong Kong, 2022), DIVA Museum (Antwerp, 2021), Tongji University (Shanghai, 2021), Christie’s (Shanghai, 2020 & 2021), the De Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts and Design (Maastricht, 2020), the British Museum (London, 2019), the Royal College of Art (London, 2019), the University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong, 2019), Christie’s Education (Hong Kong, 2019), the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (London, 2018), the Sarabande Foundation (London, 2018), Sciences Po (Paris, 2018), Harvard University (Cambridge, 2017), Central Saint Martins (London, 2017), the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, 2016), and Christie’s (Paris, 2014). In 2016, his first illustrated monograph, Dream Light Water, was released with a presentation at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (New York).

 

In 2021, Chan’s first-ever large-scale sculpture and installation art exhibition, TITANS: A dialogue between materials, space and time was held at Fondaco Marcello, Venice in Italy. The exhibition gave an unprecedented survey of Chan’s work as a sculptor. In 2022, Chan returned to Venice’s Fondaco Marcello for another solo exhibition, TOTEM. With his 10-metre titanium sculpture scattered on the floor space of the venue, his exhibition addressed the idea of uncertainty.

www.wallace-chan.com | @wallacechanart

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About James Putnam

James Putnam is an independent curator and writer. He studied Art History at London University, was Visiting Scholar in Museum Studies at New York University, and Senior Lecturer in Curating at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, London (2004-2011) and Senior Research Fellow: Exhibitions at University of the Arts, London (2010-2021). He founded and was curator of the British Museum’s Contemporary Arts and Cultures Programme from 1999 to 2003. His book ‘Art and Artifact – The Museum as Medium’ (Thames & Hudson, 2000/10) surveys the interaction between contemporary artists and the museum. Since 1994, he has organised a number of critically-acclaimed exhibitions for major museums, juxtaposing the work of contemporary artists with their collections. In the last decade, he has regularly curated projects for biennials, both in Asia and Venice

About Santa Maria della Pietà

The Church of Santa Maria della Pietà was designed by Giorgio Massari, and built between 1745 and 1760. It is also known as “Vivaldi’s church”, as Antonio Vivaldi composed some of his world-famous music there. The Chapel of Santa Maria della Pietà is one of 4 spaces in the Pietà Complex which regularly plays host to Venice Biennale events.

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 Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pietà, Riva degli Schiavoni, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy

Flint Culture , London

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