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George Condo - W.H.Y. Gallery
Zhang Gong
Tagami Masakatsu

The Surreal and the Real

23 May - 1 August



W.H.Y. Gallery is pleased to present its first exhibition: The Surreal and the Real, a group exhibition featuring the artworks of George Condo, Liu Hongwei, Tagami Masakatsu, Zhang Gong, Enej Gala and Agnese Guido, on view from May 23, 2022 to August 1, 2022. The exhibition aims to create a visual dialogue of the 6 artists whose exhibited pieces embody their own cultural, distinctively captivating surreal and realistic elements. The artworks are storytellers, inviting the viewer to imagine and explore.

In this exhibition, the six artists have created surreal pieces at different stages of their artistic path. The international renowned artist George Condo’s early period has been inspired by Surrealistic master Rene Magritte. His early pieces reflects the influence of surrealism. Chinese artist Liu Hong Wei has been fascinated by works of Hieronymous Bosch, Pieter Brueghel and Rene Margritte, depicting children within the detailed and architectural scenes. Liu’s works invoke his childhood memory, cultural background and his surreal imagination. Japanese artist Tagami Masakatsu depicts seemingly real and gigantic human and animal figures engaged in action. The mysterious pictorial elements is set in a green outdoor setting, reflecting the artist’s love of nature and his thoughts on human relationship with animals and nature. Zhang Gong’s early works are often composed with different perspectives and layers. The figurative symbols conjure up different layers of meanings. Enej Gala’s seeks to stimulate an awareness of our identity and to show some myths related to their existence. The mostly abstract pictorials contain intricate details. Along with the thought provoking artwork titles, Gala’s works invites the viewer to ponder and imagine. Agnese Guido has been fascinated by surrealistic art. Her works are whimsical and full of dark humour and reflections, triggering one to think about the themes and issues beyond the portrayal.


Internationally renowned artist George Condo was born in 1957, Concord, U.S. Condo studied Art History and Music Theory at the University of Massachusette Lowell. Condo’s career as an artist could be said to have begun in the earnest in late 1981, early 1982. In 1983, he travelled to Europe for the first time. Condo started developing symbols, like coins in the clouds or jewels, and taking parts and pieces from the Old Masters. Condo wants to create the idea of reconfiguration of various masters’ languages in art. His approach was seen as allying him more closely with a kind of resurgent Surrealism than an expeditionary pre-modernism. The coin, symbol and recurrent motif, make sense only in the confines of the environments created for them, add up to a literal demonstration of what Condo would call “artificial realism’. By the end of 1984, Condo had invented and developed a whole range of pictorial languages and symbolic forms that could inhabit both his figurative paintings and his more borderline abstract “Expanding Canvases”.

Zhang Gong was born in Beijing in 1959. He received a M.F.A.from, Central Academy of Arts and Design, Beijing in 1993. Known for his figurative style that synthesizes surrealism and pop culture and his use of iconic characters from animated movies and cartoons, Zhang draws inspiration from a panoply of American and Japanese cartoons, as well as the urban environments of city spaces, Zhang’s work also encompasses animation and photography. He is currently Professor at the Information Department of Art and Design at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

Zhang has exhibited worldwide, including Forms and Effects: Ukiyo-e to Anime, Kresege Foundation Gallery, Rampo College, Mahwah, NJ (2017); Hypallage - The Post-Modern Mode of Chinese Contemporary Art, The OCT Contemporary Art Center, Shenzhen, China (2008) and FICTION LOVE-Ultra New Vision in Contemporary Art, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore; Bund 18 Creative Center, Shanghai, China; MOCA Shanghai, Shanghai, China (2006). His animation films have been featured at international festivals such as Cinémathèque Québécoise, Montreal, Canada; Brussels Animation Films Festival, Brussels, Belgium; London International Animation Festival, London, UK; and Without Borders Film Festival, Rome, Italy. He has been awarded for his animated short film Trees (2003) at: 3rd Animation Academy Awards, Animation School of Beijing Film Academy, Beijing, China (2003); 10th Asian Film and Culture Festival, Lyon, France (2004) and 3rd CTVA Academy Awards, China (2004).

Born in Beijing in 1965, Liu grew up during the time of Cultural Revolution. He was confined to playing at home or in the neighborhood by his parents, who did so out of love. He watched his neighbours play and interact. His pieces are like scenes of drama. Some children play on a giant kettle, some rock a ceiling lamp, some play on a fruit tray as if its were a playground, and some sleep on the ground where they feel comfortable. The works reflect his childhood stories. Liu loves surrealism very much at heart. The surreal depiction enlivens him to put things from different times and spaces together and arrange them in a wonderful and dramatic scene. The sense of stage and the dramatic effect has been elaborately composed. Light and shadow are aptly expressed that they present an indescribable sense of mystery.

The art of Liu Hongwei is a combination of fantasy and memory. The faces and expressions of each child is different. Some are interactive and engaged in activities; some are standing and sitting alone. His works reflect the inner world of the artist with acute observations and surreal fantasy.

Born in Yamaguchi, Japan in 1944, Tagami studied philosophy and graduated from Yamaguchi University in 1967. Masakatsu later studied at the Taka Art Institute and in 1973, he started watercolour painting during his stay in Tokyo. In 1974, he began painting oil and copperplate engraving. Tagami is a self-taught artist who developed diversified skills. He uses a variety of materials such as watercolour, copperplate prints, oil paintings, new ink paintings and drawings. Tagami is passionate to draw and paint and has been painting for more than 40 years. Tagami’s home and atelier, which is built in a rural landscape surrounded by fields, is a large Japanese house that was built over 150 years ago. He grows vegetables in the fields and live a quiet life with nature. In many of Tagami’s paintings, landscape in the background depicts a greenish mountainscape with grasses in the foreground. The hometown where Tagami from- Yamaguchi, is known as “Western Kyoto” surrounded by the nature of the mountains that stretches along the way from Ogun to Little Kyoto and Tsuwano. There are animal figures and human in many of his paintings, the proportion of the figures are surreal and the activities that the characters engaged in seem mysterious. Art critic, Boguslaw Mansfeld compared Tagami Masakatsu's works with that of Bosch and Goya, whereby "in a world of stones, sky and naked existence, a shocking and unsettling loneliness is exposed. As the artist suggests, this loneliness holds anger. Here, various universal virtues are lost and mankind loses its meaning of life."

Born in 1990, Ljubliana, Slovenia, Enej Gala has graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice in 2013, specializing in Painting. He spent a period of study abroad at the Williem De Kooning Academy of Fine Arts in Rotterdam. In 2015 he graduated from the same Academy of Venice, again in Painting. Gala has participated in several group and solo exhibitions in Slovenia, Italy, Montenegro, Croatia, Albania, Senegal, the Netherlands and Portugal. Since 2010 he has participated in the Atelier F drawing and painting workshops curated by Carlo di Raco, in Forte Marghera. In 2012 he won the scholarship of the 96th collective young artists of the Bevilacqua la Masa Foundation. In 2015, he won the Walking with Art – Stonefly Art Prize.

Through his painting, sculpture and environmental installations, Gala seeks to stimulate an awareness of our identity and to show some myths related to their existence. By twisting and turning the tradition of his origins, the artist wants not to ridicule or belittle their cultural roots, but rather tries to overcome prejudices rooted in the collective awareness and change the weaknesses into strengths. The awareness of the value of a country’s tradition is the key, in order to conceive a broader view of our present. His art embodies a narrative, taking it to the limit through the layering of meanings. Analyzing the functioning of memory and the continuous need for metaphors to understand, bear and live everyday life, he explores the misunderstanding that is created between the idea and the image. It is like reworking an intrinsic anomaly that manifests itself through the continuous need for a personal imagination, within what is proposed to us in every form of convention.

Born in 1982 in Lecce, Italy, Agnese lives and works in Milan. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera. The whimsical and weird world conjured up in Agnese’s pictorial world is both an escape from and a product of the real world around us. It is populated by a cast of anthropomorphic characters who animate pop cultural icons, old technology hardware and everyday objects. The characters embody anxiety, loneliness and hallucinations and other projections of contemporary life. “ I think I could have been a surrealist. I definitely have a predisposition to puns, to wander into the unconscious and to play with the hidden links between ideas and things. There are recurring elements in my imagination, such as skyscrapers or city buildings, smoking factories, streets, cigarettes and various objects, human beings are few and sometimes absent, represented more according to what they represent than according to what they are.” Storytelling is important for Agnese. Agnese’s paintings disclose the attachment we have with things, our voices and our most uncontrolled instincts, but with an ironic and light taste.


23 May
1 August
Event Category:


W.H.Y. Gallery

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