Tu Hongtao: Twisting and Turning

Tu Hongtao

Lévy Gorvy, London

October 2 - November 24, 2020

Press Release

Following Lévy Gorvy's career survey of Chinese artist Tu Hongtao (b. 1976) in Hong Kong in early 2020, Tu Hongtao: Twisting and Turning debuted new works never before exhibited. The exhibition—Lévy Gorvy's first with the acclaimed artist in Europe—was on view at 22 Old Bond Street and 40 Albemarle Street.

Tu Hongtao: Twisting and Turning featured expansive paintings that occupy an expressive realm between landscape and abstraction, reflecting the influence of the rural area near the artist's residence. Tu synthesized Chinese aesthetic traditions with postwar abstraction to create original painterly effects.

The exhibition took its title from the Chinese idiom Yibosanzhe—“a twist and three turns”—a phrase that originates from Jin Dynasty master calligrapher Wang Xizhi (303–361 CE). Once referring to the elegant flourishes of Chinese calligraphy, the phrase now describes unpredictable, abruptly changing states and implies good things never come easy. As Tu explains: “I understand these words as espousing a certain aesthetic sensibility, namely, that painting ought not to be too neat and orderly, nor artistic production too decorative; both, rather, should involve a kind of friction, as with a blade against a grindstone.” In the face of the uncertainty and global predicaments of the present, he broke through with new forms of painterly expression in this body of work.