Teenage artist highlights emotion and its capacity in self-curated exhibition in Beijing

"迷•覓" is a newly curated exhibition by 17-year-old artist, Xiang Yetong Mandy, in Beijing's Yidian Space. She wants this exhibition to express different psychological states, and highlight the importance of mental health. To find the balance in life, Xiang encourages visitors to pay attention to their own feelings, rather than look outwards with others' opinions and judgements.

The exhibition highlights 4 young artists – Xiang Yetong Mandy, Ella McKenzie, Sophia Wolbach and Sarah Chen. There are 28 artworks in total, with a variety of mediums including painting, photography, videography and installation works. 

The name of the exhibition is "". "" is a variety of indescribable emotions, entangled in chaos; "" is empathy and understanding, which leads to comfort and liberation. At the same time, the name of the exhibition is a pun and a homophonic "secret", which points out the secret and subtle characteristics of emotion.

Xiang Yetong, Mandy's Insomnia. Water colours and collage on paper

Xiang Yetong, Mandy's Locking Down. Charcoal on toned paper

Xiang Yetong, Mandy creating her latest artwork

Chen Dong-sheng (Chairman of Taikang Life Insurance Company) went to the exhibition, and took a photo with the exhibition’s curator - Xiang Yetong, Mandy

William Chak (Professor, Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)

Zhao Li (Associate Dean, Central Academy of Fine Arts, School of Arts Administration and Education; Founder, Art Nova 100)

A preview of the exhibition

Emotions: Raising Public Awareness

This exhibition revolves around the psychological state of people, expressing depression, anger, anxiety, and intimacy with art. Through introspection and empathy, curator, Xiang, understands the common mental state of an individual from personal experience. She wants to raise public awareness of mental health through art.

Xiang Yetong, Mandy

Xiang has always been interested in the diversity of emotion. Under her mother’s influence, the young artist saw a Han Meilin's (Chinese artist, best known for his Fuwa dolls in the 2008's Beijing Summer Olympics) exhibition at National Museum. Xiang learned that emotion can be expressed in so many different ways, and soon started to develop a strong interest in art.

Social media is a central way in which people communicate their emotions. Through facial-filters and photo-editing apps, we can build and enhance our images and modify our emotions. It’s tempting to hide our true selves and worst moments on social media, and rarely see glimpses of negativity. We can be left with disorientation and indifference.

Xiang Yetong, Mandy's Be Quiet. Digital art

Xiang Yetong, Mandy's Irritable. Charcoals on toned paper

Xiang Yetong, Mandy's Crown #1. Photography

Irritation is often understood as a negative emotion that represents an attitude in everyday life. We can feel certain tension, a strong force gushing out from the rubbed paper. The juxtaposition of the clenched fist and soft paper creates a contrast between firmness and softness. Irritation is an emotional release of anger, a discharge of emotions after they reached a peak. This piece highlights the importance of emotion management.

This work is one of the Crown series. This series discusses how people have to conceal their true identities every day. When a girl puts on a crown, she might be seen as a queen or princess, but the truth is that she is experiencing pain and even struggling. She struggles to maintain the balance while bearing the crown's heavy weight, a symbol for the weight of expectation, effort, jealousy, and social commentary. It is important not to comment on others' appearances and not to create illusions; but face the real world.

Ella McKenzie

McKenzie was always interested by the human face, its complexity, and the evolution of one’s features. Her goal is portrait photography on both digital and film, with a focus on gender bending and facial intensity.

Evolution has made the human face so unique and diverse. McKenzie believes that perfection and beauty, especially regarding the human face is subjective. Through the exhibition, McKenzie hopes that visitors realise they are beautiful in their own ways.

Ella McKenzie's Care. Photography

Ella McKenzie's Isolation. Photography

The most important aspect of McKenzie's Care is the placement of the model’s hands. As the strong masculine nature of the body and gaze of the model is challenged by the dress and delicate nature of his hands, the photo can be interpreted as self-contradiction or as self-care.

McKenzie's Isolation creation portrays how lonely it can be when one is struggling with mental health. The model’s isolation as a concerned look stares into the souls of viewers. The emotion in his eyes tell endless stories.

Sophia Wolbach

Wolbach made these artworks while inspired by her own experience with the beauty standard and how it affected her mental health.

She wants to capture some of the things that were told to her after she got her nose pierced. Wolbach was insulted and told it was very unpleasant, and that affected how she viewed herself as well as her mental health. The stereotype and judgement is harmful, which could isolate people and cause mental unstability.

Sophia Wolbach's Nose. Digital art

Sophia Wolbach's Glasses. Digital art

Sophia wants to demonstrate how the beauty standard views glasses. As someone who has had glasses for almost their whole life, knowing that she will never live up to this standard has affected her mental health for just as long. She puts a crack in the glasses to show how twisted the view of yourself can become with this standard always looming over you.

Sarah Chen

As an artist, Chen listens carefully to her own heart and feels from her soul. Here, art returns to its original essence and connects each individual soul to the artist’s feelings. Chen’s creative process is also a healing process that releases stress and gives freedom from difficult emotions.

Sarah Chen's Shackles. Digital art

Chen creates an intense painting, with succint, bold and powerful lines. The exuberant colour against the black background hints at the girl's strong resistance, a sense that she wants to break free. As Nietzsche once said, art has a healing capacity. For him, art is not simply an experience, it revitalises exhausted culture to come back and also brings colour to the body. Chen’s work agrees to Nietzsche's philosophy, in the sense that she is immersed in her own artistic world, trying to get rid of all the shackles in reality. She ultimately wants to achieve great spiritual freedom.

"迷•覓" Exhibition

Curator: Xiang Yetong, Mandy 
Exhibiting Artists: Xiang Yetong, Mandy; Ella McKenzie, Sophia Wolbach and Sarah Chen
Exhibition Space: Now until August 15, 2021
Location: Yidian Space|798 Art Zone, 3818 Art Gallery, Beijing