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HERE AND NOW


HERE AND NOW


FO R E W O R D

Some of the best moments exist in the present, as we center our lives in the Here and Now. Ode to Art introduces a solo exhibition by Wu Qiong titled《在这里》 Here and Now—an open-ended invitation into a state of mind replete with luscious dreamscapes, whimsical characters and compositions. I was introduced to Wu Qiong by way of a mutual friend, it was a chance encounter and happy occasion as I had been observing the evolution of his style and his works piqued my interest. The gallery has been representing Wu Qiong for close to three years now, which has allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of his artistic motivations and directions.

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The characters that feature so readily in Wu Qiong’s compositions assume the guise of children and, like him, are presumably part of a generation born in the ‘80s. With upturned faces, eyes pressed shut and mouths agape, they set out on journeys of exploration—caught up in the midst of inexplicable scenarios that lie on the fringes of dreams and reality. His definitive ‘cartoon’ style resonates with the aesthetic of a generation absorbed with graphic novels and comics, digital worlds, animation and gaming. And yet, the innocence is juxtaposed with heavier themes of social commentary—as in the Marching Forth series that addresses education of children as a sort of public duty, serving a purpose beyond the children themselves and existing for greater societal good. Several pleasant hours have been passed in Wu Qiong’s studio, where I have observed his continual desire for experimentation and his inquisitive mind. Not partial to any one medium, I particularly enjoy the bronze sculptures that he has been creating for the past two years. Here and Now represents a broader concept compared to his previous series, allowing for more emphasis on individual characters and development of their emotions. Despite his young age, Wu Qiong has already progressed greatly in his artistic career with indomitable spirit. His work resonates with collectors both within and outside China, with an espousal of universal ideas bridging geographic boundaries. His paintings have even been acquired by the Beijing Poly International Auction (the biggest auction house in China) and are part of numerous corporate collections. I thank Wu Qiong for giving Ode to Art the opportunity to hold this exhibition and look forward to seeing more of his new works in future. Jazz Chong Director, Ode to Art

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P o s t - P o p a n d N eo - C a r t o o n s – The Paintings of Wu Qiong b y ya n g w e i

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Pop Art is a 20th century art phenomenon that emerged after the 1960s, and has been described as a trend both fashionable and in vogue. It stands as a symbol for popular culture. Naturally, pop art that originates in China is different from that of its Western counterpart—while the roots of Western pop art can be said to originate from a burgeoning interest in viewing culture as a business and bringing with it mass appeal; Chinese pop art, conversely, stems from the disappearance of power and authority and brings with it strong political overtones. Thus, it has been labeled ‘Political Pop.’ Notably, the art of Wu Qiong does not constitute political pop. This definitely has to do with his age, namely with the fact that he is a ‘post-80s’ artist. As such, Wu Qiong does not possess as many political memories or politically-motivated opinions compared to his predecessors. His development has been in tandem with the opening of the Chinese economy, causing his basic impressions of China to be largely intertwined with a consumerist society. With the added dimension of him having studied abroad for numerous years, the aforementioned factors have all caused him to distance himself from previous generations of Chinese artists to carve out a niche as a “new breed of artist.” Therefore, I am more than willing to associate his art with the category of “Cartoon Drawings or Paintings”—regarding it both as surpassing the genre of Political Pop and furthering the development of Cartoon Art. Cartoon Art is a method of drawing and painting borne of new skills; it has links with the ability of a computer to reproduce images and the connectivity of the Internet. However, with regards to its use as an aesthetic concept or popular art trend, it has represented the viewpoints and observations of a younger generation of artists towards the world and how they come to terms with it. China was the first to classify ‘cartoons’ as a usable aesthetic concept. In actual fact, the advent of the genre did not stem from young artists, but happened almost simultaneously with the development of Political Pop. The idea was pioneered by a group of ‘post-60s’ artists from Guangdong, and was meant to act as resistance to political and cultural ideologies of Beijing (deemed as the center of China), manifesting in representation of different cultural attitudes of the coastal provinces. However, this method of advancing a radical concept was largely unrealistic and akin to building castles in the sky—with the ‘Cartoon Generation’ remaining

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a method of learning and never coming to fruition in terms of aesthetic impact. This also led to an increasing number of young artists trying to surpass the original ‘Cartoon Generation’ in later days, creating the opportunity for more vivid and defining cartoon images. It should be noted that in Wu Qiong’s earlier works, traces of cartoons are not as evident and, instead, are passionate depictions of basic truths and realities. However, his method of social commentary does not center upon actual subjects or matters of interest, but deals largely with historical stories and fairytales. This appears to have served as an impetus for his later switch to cartoon painting. Whether one is talking about a historical story or children’s tale, over the course of time, what truly ensued gradually fades away and what remains is a kind of entertainment value. The beginnings of cartoon art are lodged in this similar nature of entertainment and delight, ceaselessly exaggerating ideals of playfulness and humor. In truth, with Wu Qiong’s transition from realistic to cartoon painting, he also underwent a laborious process of metamorphosis. Firstly, he had to give up the technical concepts and skills gleaned from his artistic education. Secondly, he had to become accustomed to contemporary life, generating useful connections with methods of play that young people concerned themselves with. It is fortunate that the art of Wu Qiong underwent this transformation successfully and, in the midst of cartoon painting, he discovered not only a method of communication; but also a system of values and way of participating in the world. In the midst of Wu Qiong’s cartoon paintings, one is drawn closer to reality and no longer caught up in his initial historical stories and fables. His art portrays a contemporary individual and attitudes toward the modern era. However, due to the use of cartoons, the method of portrayal simultaneously deviates from reality—presenting a relaxed and unrestrained demeanor. Therein lies the paradox of Wu Qiong’s art—past descriptions were not linked to the present, however with his use of realistic methods, his art was subject to realistic restrictions. At the same time, although his art now addresses the present, due to the treatment of cartoons, it has surpassed the here and now. Wu Qiong has both dispelled tension with the discussions of his methods; and has begun to come to terms with his artistic identity. I do not classify his entry into the knowledge


of cartoon paintings from a conceptual point of view, but rather one of methodology. His use of the genre has transformed it into a way of solving realistic problems and addressing a way of life. It is precisely this sort of humorous commentary on life that has released Wu Qiong from the heavy and serious burdens of history and realistic conflicts, causing him to surpass the demands of Political Pop and to achieve a satisfactory and liberating method of expression. Undeniably, it is this progression that constitutes the contemporary spirit of his generation.

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13th January 2012 Yang Wei is an art critic, currently based in Tongzhou District (Beijing)

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C o n v e r s at i o n with wu qiong

Ode to Art director, Jazz Chong, gets a glimpse into the mind of Wu Qiong—the artist that bridges fantasy and reality with his whimsical characters and compositions.

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Jazz Chong: Wu Qiong, we are delighted to welcome you back to Singapore. It must feel good returning to present your solo exhibition “Here and Now” which features your latest series of paintings and sculptures. Wu Qiong: It feels great and I’m excited to share my latest works with viewers. I hope the series will touch upon points of interest and strike a common chord with them. JC: What was the inspiration behind the name Here and Now? WQ: Here and Now represents an entry point into a state (of mind or being), with no single definition or explanation as to where “Here” is. I wanted to engage in a dialogue with viewers, introducing scenarios that would provoke thought or trigger memories and experiences. JC: How much time did you spend preparing for the exhibition and can we expect any unique or special pieces this time around? WQ: Preparing for the exhibition took about a year and having come up with the concept, I set about creating each painting and sculpture in accordance to the theme. Every piece in the series is a reflection of my innermost being and an expression of pure emotion. JC: How is Here and Now different from your previous exhibitions? WQ: I aim for my exhibitions to be yearly affairs with each effort reflecting important and diverse themes. I would say that the previous themes possessed clearer and more definite symbolism, whilst inherent ideas in the newer works are more subtle and open-ended. This has allowed for powerful portrayal of emotions and feelings, which are communicated through postures, facial expressions and depictions of characters. JC: How fascinating. Could you elaborate a bit more on this train of thought? What were some of the themes you

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introduced previously and what does your newest series express? WQ: One of the more popular series of works is titled the ‘80s Generation’ and addressed the childhood memories of individuals born in that era. The ‘Marching Forth’ series was a translation of the different expectations of societies and families towards their children into sculptural forms. ‘Imitation of Life’ was also a discussion of roles, reflecting people transitioning to different phases of their lives and assuming new attitudes towards these changes. For the works this year, I wanted to highlight the wealth of emotions contained within my characters. They are a manifestation of common emotions and considerations of society; hopefully these feelings will resonate with viewers even if the situations and contexts, which I present them in, do not. JC: The depiction of characters with eyes closed and mouths agape has become a defining aspect of your work. Where did this concept stem from and has there been an evolution in the symbolism of this over the different series? WQ: These characters with their upturned faces and eyes wide shut appear to be wreaking havoc in their dreams. With regards to universal ideals that we are entrenched in, each individual leaves a trace of their own lives upon the bigger blueprint of the world. As such, I hope to tap upon this notion through repeated use of this facial expression—allowing viewers to make their own associations with different scenarios presented in my works. JC: Has returning to Beijing changed or influenced your work in any way? WQ: Returning to Beijing was a very joyous occasion for me, as it was where I grew up and spent my childhood years. Technically speaking, the development and evolution of one’s art should mirror the passing of time. That being said, Beijing is and has always been a center of culture and heritage that has influenced countless artists and individuals. Aside from Beijing, my work evolved greatly in Singapore as well! I trace this growth through the exhibitions I’ve embarked upon here in the past 14 years as well as the two solo exhibitions I’ve organized in Beijing.


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JC: Your work has always been very well received in Singapore. Could you tell us about some of the recent projects you have been working on?

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WQ: In recent years, I’ve been experimenting with the medium of sculpture and casting in bronze. It has been an exciting and fulfilling process—I’ve been able to translate some of my ideas into sculptures for the latest exhibition and can’t wait to share them with viewers and collectors in Singapore! JC: Indeed, the transition to sculpture from your previous specialization of oil painting was a notable change. Was this process difficult? Did you gain any epiphanies or revelations in the process? WQ: I definitely received moments of enlightenment, although the process was not difficult as I learnt how to paint and sculpt in school. Drawing and painting are purely twodimensional, whilst sculpture possesses a lot more depth and adds a tactile quality to the work. Viewers are able to interact with the work in a different way, which is more appealing and meaningful. JC: So what would your medium of choice be? WQ: There is no specific material that I like best—I experiment with different materials and never restrict myself to a single one. I believe that artists need to imbue their work with a sense of vitality and creativity. Each material presents a different finished result and one must determine what the distinctive characteristic of a piece will be before deciding upon the material that will help achieve this. Stainless steel, for example, boasts a far more contemporary quality compared to the more traditional medium of bronze. Bronze contains within it tacit emotion, firmness and strength. JC: Your work has been auctioned at the Beijing Poly International Auctions—do you feel that your work resonates with audiences both within and outside of Beijing? WQ: I believe so. The nature of art is to command the attention and appreciation of people and there should be no geographical boundary or barrier involved as long as the art espouses universal ideas. I think that as long as one can use art to create a sense of identification and echo sentiments of viewers, the purpose of the work is achieved.

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Previous Page: 在这里 (1) Here and Now Bronze, 80 x 35 x 70cm 雪山的来客 Guest from the Snowy Mountain Ed 1/8 Stainless Steel, 90 x 50 x 100cm

The characters in Wu Qiong's newest series titled "Here and Now" embark on fresh explorations and are reimagined in different contexts. Wu Qiong moves away from depicting children and youth to creating older figures who continue to carry expressions of preoccupation and blissful ignorance. They are imbued with an old world charm that is devoid of flamboyance or pride. The series crosses the generational divide to address displacement experienced by young and old alike—expanding on the artist's belief that no generation exists without hardship. Having previously focused on paintings, the creation of three-dimensional sculptures adds a tactile quality to his work, with the use of bronze contributing added emotion and strength.

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在这里 (2) – 梦 Dream Bronze, 77 x 81 x 25cm

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在这里 (3) – 守 I Will Guard You Silently Bronze, 62 x 73 x 53cm

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在这里 (5) – Here and Now Bronze, 93 x 66 x 28cm Next Page: 在这里 (4) – 行程 Journeying into the Unknown Bronze, 95 x 41 x 38cm

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“Here and Now” is a sculptural representation of one of Wu Qiong’s paintings, depicting a couple standing together with a whimsical addition of a seagull atop the male character’s head. The motif of a couple brings to mind a system of support for one facing an unknown future. With an arm slipped around the woman, her partner provides assurance and comfort as they face their obstacles together. Wu Qiong captures an exact moment in time, which may or may not exist in reality as we know it. Rather, he opens the discussion for multifarious possibilities and interpretations—the couple revels in an experience, comes to terms with an issue they will face together, or communes with nature.

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在这里 (6) – 武侠浮云 Divine Warrior Oil on Canvas, 110 x 150cm

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在这里 (7) – 往事如风 The Past Vanishes like the Wind Oil on Canvas, 130 x 95cm

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在这里 (8) – 梦幻 In the Clouds of Our Dreams Oil on Canvas, 120 x 150cm

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在这里 (9) – 晴空万里 Boundless Skies, Endless Visions Oil on Canvas, 100 x 80cm

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With closed eyes and agape mouth, the boy glides through an intricate frame of imagined space. Detailed embellishments and visions illuminate the night sky, a portal leading into a network of other worlds. The possibilities are endless and, whether or not the character resides in the plane of existence as we know it, all is filled with wonder.

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在这里 (10) – 寻找平安 Seeking Peace Admist the Chaos Oil on Canvas, 100 x 80cm

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在这里 (11) – 纯情 Pure, Simple and True Oil on Canvas, 100 x 120cm

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在这里 (12) – 英雄 Heroes of Old Oil on Canvas, 110 x 150cm

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In the fantasy worlds that Wu Qiong depicts, characters ascend into the air on the backs of camels—carrying weapons of war and destruction. The softness of the colours contrast the violence that the weapons signify, whilst the entire image calls to mind heroes of myth and folklore that existed in a realm between mortals and gods. Traversing the skies through beds of clouds, the scene is both whimsical and thought-provoking.

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Previous Page: 在这里 (13) – 永远 Always and Forever Oil on Canvas, 150 x 120cm 在这里 (14) – 幻象 It is Simply an Illusion Oil on Canvas, 102 x 80cm

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在这里 (15) – 开放 Open to the Elements Oil on Canvas, 110 x 150cm

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在这里 (16) – 展翅高飞 Escaping Into the Infinite Oil on Canvas, 110 x 150cm

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It has always been a desire of men to rise into the air, flying without the aid of machines and escaping into infinite space. The male and female depicted are free from restrictions and boundaries, crossing an expanse of ocean and craggy mountains in search of paradise. It is a celebration of freedom and renewal, bolstered by a colour palette of warm, nourishing tones.

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чнЙ Expect Oil on Canvas, 80 x 100cm

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雪山的来客 Guest from the Snowy Mountain Oil on Canvas, 100 x 160cm

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风 Wind Limited Edition Print, 77 x 55cm

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望日出 Want to See the Sunrise Oil on Canvas, 150 x 120cm

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在这里 In Here Limited Edition Print, 57 x 70cm

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在这里(II) In Here (2) Oil on Canvas, 120 x 150cm

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三兄弟 Three Brothers Oil on Canvas, 120 x 150cm

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biography

i m p o r ta n t c o l l ec t i o n s 39 2006 Graduated from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts 2001 Graduated from Beijing Shi Fan University 1981 Born in Beijing, currently working in China and Singapore

MusÊe des Beaux-Arts de Tours (Museum of Fine Arts of Tours),Tours, France (Sculpture) Asian Art Museum of Cuba (Prints) Managing Director and Founder of MediaCorp Raintree Pictures (Singapore), Daniel Yun (Oil Painting) MediaCorp artiste Mark Lee, Singapore (Sculpture, Oil Painting, Prints) Celebrity Stylist, Addy Lee, Singapore (Sculpture, Oil Painting, Prints) Founder of Upfront Models modeling agency, Watson Tan (Sculpture, Oil Painting) ACP Magazines (Cleo, Women’s Weekly) Chief Fashion Editor, Sally Teo (Oil Painting) Television host and MediaCorp artiste, Quan Yi Fong (Oil Painting) Television host and MediaCorp artiste, Ben Yeo (Oil Painting) Singapore embassy in Malaysia (Oil Painting)

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group exhibitions

solo exhibitions

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2015

2015

Here and Now by Wu Qiong, Ode to Art Gallery, Singapore

Lanjing Arts Center

2014

2014

0614, Beijing International Cultural Exchange Private Limited, China

Art Stage 2014, Ode to Art Gallery, Singapore

Waiting­—Wu Qiong, Fei Ni Qi Art Center, 798 Art Zone, Beijing 2012 Essence of Performing, Sunjin Gallery, Singapore 2008

Reproduce—Artists Create, Artists’ Gallery, 798 Art Zone, Beijing 0614, Beijing International Cultural Exchange Private Limited, China Waiting—Wu Qiong, Fei Ni Qi Art Center, 798 Art Zone, Beijing 2013

Hear Us Out, Sunjin Gallery, Singapore 2007 Born in the 80’s, Sunjin Gallery, Singapore

Art Hong Kong, Ode to Art Gallery, Singapore Reproduction1: Silence, All Art Contemporary Art Center, Building No. 2, 798 Art Zone, Beijing Ding Ding & Little Friends, c-space, The Gallery Art Stage 2013, Ode to Art Gallery, Singapore 2012 Essence of Performing, Sunjin Gallery, Singapore Art Stage Singapore, Ode to Art Gallery, Singapore 2011 Asian Art Museum of Cuba, Collection Show, Contemporary Printmaking, Beijing Hexagon Contemporary Art Exchange Center Affordable Art Fair with Sunjin Gallery, Singapore 2010 Hidden Rules, Shiyu Space, 798 Art Zone, Beijing Width 2 Contemporary Art Exhibition, Museum of Contemporary Art, Beijing Crossover—International Exhibition 2010 (Singapore Venue), Sunshine International Museum, Beijing

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Art Expo Malaysia 2010 with Sunjin Gallery Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Emerging Talent—Five Artists for the Future, Sunjin Galleries, Singapore

Affordable Art Fair, Sunjin Gallery, Singapore

Art Miami 2007, Galerie Kashya Hildebrand, Switzerland

2009

2006

Feeling—Shandong, Zuoyu Contemporary Museum, Shandong

Painting Showcase at POP@Central, Bras Basah, Singapore

My Friends, My Place, Hong Wan Arts Center, Beijing, Songzhuang

Senses of Place, NAFA Campus 1, Singapore

Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition in France, “Recent History,” Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours (Museum of Fine Arts of Tours), Tours, France Shanghai Contemporary 2009, Shanghai, China Realm—Heart, 798 Art Zone, Beijing 2008 Bridge Art Fair, New York 2008, Galerie Kashya Hildebrand, Switzerland Art Cologne 2008, Galerie Kashya Hildebrand, Switzerland China International Gallery Exposition 2008, Beijing, Galerie Kashya Hildebrand, Switzerland 11th Beijing International Art Exposition, Sunjin Galleries, Singapore

Visual Desire Group Contemporary Art Exhibition, Singapore 100% Made in Singapore—Art Seasons Gallery, Singapore ArtSingapore 2006, The Contemporary Asian Art Fair, Suntec City, Sunjin Galleries, Singapore Crazily Vertiginous Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, Sunjin Galleries, Singapore Form and Sensitivity Group Exhibition, Sunjin Galleries, Singapore WTP Windows to the Past with Sunjin Galleries, Singapore 2005 MAAP Multi Element Visual Performance, Singapore Art Museum

From Mao to Now, Sydney Olympic Park Authority, Australia, with Sunjin Gallery, Singapore The Sunshine Invitation of International Art Annual Exhibition, Sunshine International Museum—Beijing Art Singapore 2008, The Contemporary Asian Art Fair, Sunjin Galleries, Singapore 2007 ArtSingapore 2007, The Contemporary Asian Art Fair, Suntec City, Sunjin Galleries, Singapore

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HERE and now WU QIONG First published 2015 Ode To Art Raffles City 252 North Bridge Road, Raffles City Shopping Centre, #01-36E/F, Singapore 179103 Tel: +65 6250 1901 Fax: +65 6250 5354 Ode To Art Kuala Lumpur 168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, The Pavilion, #06-24E/F, Kuala Lumpur 55100, Malaysia Tel: +603 2148 9816 Fax: +603 2142 6816 info@odetoart.com odetoart.com Š Ode To Art 2015 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Printed and bound in Singapore

Here and Now (在这里)  

Internationally acclaimed sculptor and painter Wu Qiong is back in town to present his exhibition, Here and Now. This exhibition is his open...

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