London | Beijing

Contemporary Myths and Artifacts

Tant Yunshu Zhong, aaajiao, Xiao Hanqiu
09 - 19 November, 2023
Stockholm Gasverket, Torsgatan 22-24
Tabula Rasa Gallery is pleased to present works by Tant Yunshu Zhong, aaajiao, and Xiao Hanqiu at the group exhibiton Contemporary Myths and Artifacts, alongside 21 other artists.

Contemporary Myths and Artifacts presents twenty-four artists and with them, an array of new histories and metonymies for contemporary life. At its core, it is an exhibition about the material of now, of chrome, pixel, and stone, but also modern myths, lores, and icons. Informed by the artistic practices of storytelling and everyday divinity, it is also an exhibition about companionship; warnings delivered as promises and ancestorial acts of
soothing paid forward for the inevitability of a complex life, made more complex by acts of creativity and technology. Thus, in the ruin of an old gas building, the sky falls to the carpet. Otherworldly figures emerge in and amongst the roadkill, and inaudible translations of dreams and delusion linger. There is truth in whispers and heart in wood.

To make sense of the scale of this exhibition but also the expansive subjects, artists, media, and practices, it's useful to ground these works into an imperfect system, namely, to group artworks as myths, icons, and relics.

The myths here are abstract. They are the works that delve into the complexities of worlds and confront our inability to acutely position ourselves within a fractured plane. Psychology and cerebral textures of language, auras, and anxiety are present here, referencing interpersonal and interspecies conflicts. Colour runs high with unclear boundaries and borderlines.

The icons relate to figuration in an expansive sense of the classical term. There are referential notes to Giotto and nymphs but also more complex versions of our humanness that are expressions of softness and self-consciousness. Faces aren’t inevitable, but rather, these are portraits of timely beings, grappling and found.

The relics are the forged or found objects mined, milled, and toiled. These works speak to the thingness of our era, the waste and dumps. New significance is imparted on familiarobjects so that they move beyond the banal as touchstones of a society that created them. Together, they form a bricolage of our era, serving as the modern artifacts of our time.

Together, these gestures are a reading of our “cruel, wonderful, capricious, beautiful, mad, and unjust reality”1. They are our Contemporary Myths and Artifacts. They and us, are incomplete and open-ended for what will be and what is to come.

About the Artists

Tant Yunshu Zhong

Tant Yunshu Zhong (b. 1990, Wuhan) lives and works in Shanghai. Tant’s artistic practice focuses on the moments within everyday flow that can be used for resistance and questioning. These frozen moments may be simple, elegant, slightly comedic, or even absurd. The form of materials forms her sculpture. There is no precise boundary; they are dispersed yet mutually constrained. She excels at linking, arranging, combining, or constructing multiple connections between different objects and words, skillfully placing the contradictions hidden within organic life. The state of her works seems to want to return to some fundamental rules and rhythms while faintly attempting to break them.

Her recent group exhibitions include Contemporary Myths and Artifacts (Stockholm, 2023); Tabula Rasa: Unveiled, No.9 Cork Street (London, 2023). Selected solo exhibitions include Where Does a Wanderer Seek Rest at Night? Tabula Rasa Gallery (London, 2023); The Rearview Landscpae, or a Trip of Ownership, Ullens Centre of Contemporary Art (UCCA) (Beidaihe, 2022); The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog, Tabula Rasa Gallery (Beijing, 2020); The Force Temple, Tank Shanghai (Shanghai, 2019); Questioning Photography Now, Galaxy Museum of Contemporary Art (Chongqing, 2018); I Do (Not) Want to Be Part of Your Celebration, Qiao Space and Tank Shanghai Project Space (Shanghai, 2017).


The artist and activist aaajiao—the online handle of Xu Wenkai—draws on a broad range of languages including sculpture, painting, drawing, multimedia installation, video, sound and design to explore the evolution of the human identity being assimilated by the digital world. Focusing on the experience of the new generation—the native inhabitant of the parallel worlds and saturated realities of the net—aaajiao’s work is a critical investigation into the countless possibilities offered by the digital and the numerous questions raised by this hyper-technologisation.

Being the first Chinese artist invited for a solo show at Turin Castello di Rivoli in 2020, aaajiao’s works have been featured in numerous museums worldwide, including, ICA-Institute of Contemporary Arts (Boston), HKW | Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), HEK | Haus der Elektronischen Kuenste (Basel), How Museum (Shanghai), Turin Castello di Rivoli (Turin), UCCA Center for contemporary Art (Beijing), Yuz Museum (Shanghai), ZKM | Zentrum fuer Kunst und Medientechnologie (Karlsruhe), among others. aaajiao is the artist-in-residence at the Delfina Foundation (London) in 2019, the winner of the Art Sanya Awards 2014 Jury Prize and a nominee for the first edition of OCAT - Pierre Huber Art Prize in 2014.

Xiao Hanqiu

Xiao Hanqiu (b.1986, Beijing) is a painter and a poet. Xiao’s paintings on canvas juxtapose objects in situations that conjure the ethereal magic and intensity of being. Her paintings operate like her poems: linear narrative is rejected in favour of open questions that reflect on the complexity, ineffability, and inconstancy of experience. Xiao received her MA Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art and Design in 2011, and BA Fine Art from Leeds University in 2008.

Highlight of her recent group exhibitions include NADA Miami 2023, presented by Tabula Rasa Gallery (Miami, 2023); Contemporary Myths and Artifacts (Stockholm, 2023);  Tabula Rasa: Unveiled, No.9 Cork Street (London, 2023); Minor Attractions x Cornershop(London, 2023). Recent solo exhibitions include Love stories and horror stories, Lyles and King (solo, New York, 2022); LISTE Art Fair Basel 2021, Tabula Rasa Gallery (dual solo, Basel, 2021); Honey, Bee, Tabula Rasa Gallery, (solo, London, 2021); Skating Through the Gallery with Tricksy Snakes,Tabula Rasa Gallery, (solo, Beijing, 2018); That’s Quite Something, Canton Gallery, (solo, Guangzhou, 2018); and Self-portrait, Tabula Rasa Gallery (solo, Beijing, 2016).

She has published four poem collections: Losing Everything is Beautiful (2022), A Dream Comes True (2019), Three Minutes to Midnight Flower Thief (2018), and Four Hearts (2015).

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Tabula Rasa Gallery  (London)