Invited by Hermès, Li Han, Principal of Drawing Architecture Studio, created a brand new 2023 summer window Scape of Urban Object for the Hermès Maison in Shanghai, located in No.217 Middle Huaihai Road. At the same time, as a continuity of this season's window display, Li Han's solo exhibition Life Models will be exhibited on the 4th floor of the Hermès Maison in Shanghai from May 25 to June 11, 2023.
Various objects in daily life, e.g., buses, vending machines, bus stops, billboards, electric boxes, utility poles, fire water tanks, constitute the basic codes of urban life. Inspired by these everyday urban objects, Li Han carried out imaginative artistic deformation and reconstruction of them, and through expressive color and staging, he constructed a dramatic urban simulacrum for this season's window. Through 8 sets of spectacularly shaped installations, Li Han excavated the multiple meanings of ordinary objects in urban life, leading the viewers to change their perspectives, see the texture of urban life through the reconstructed buildings, and re-examine everything around them.
Li Han's solo exhibition Life Models, curated by Bao Dong, exhibits Li Han's latest works created in the past two years, engaging the visitors to explore the close connection between architecture and life. In this exhibition, Li Han displays his observation and understanding of life with his unique creation method as an architect. Individuality and community, local and metropolitan, past and future, reality and dream……, all kinds of contradictory characteristics contained in urban architecture are organically integrated, interpreting the surrounding city corners as artistic scenes about urban life.
Dragon Theater is an imagination of the wonders of Chinese cities. The work is based on a real setting: a Sichuan opera theater located in a parking garage in Chongqing. Li Han imagined around this real scene and conceived a legendary story. The evolution of the story also led to a series of more magical scenes. Dragon Theater inherits the tradition of narrative architecture and constructs space and places with a personal perspective. The installation is not only an architectural model, but also a stop-motion animation shooting stage. All the scenes in the story are seamlessly integrated, which is as well the magic of high-density cities.
The prototype of Pigeon Cage Chapel is Xingde Pigeon House, an Instagrammable building in Shanghai that has been demolished. The work embodies the rich meaning of the words "pigeon cage": it does not only refer to the small shacks built by residents to keep pigeons, but is also a metaphor for the small personal living space in expensive metropolises. Li Han restored the appearance of this building full of folk imagination and secular atmosphere with a scale of 1:4. The interior is the spatial negative of its intricate exterior. In the pure white space, the stained-glass windows on the top project colorful light and shadow, inviting visitors to enter a pure spiritual space. The huge contrast between the inside and outside of the work also reflects the complex contradiction between the spiritual world of the urbanites and the real space.
Ideal City is not only a mural, but also a relief. The prototype of the wall comes from a gable wall in the Hermès Maison, which has the classic form and proportion of Western architecture. The wall texture made of EPS board is an abstraction of the modern grid city. The mural and reliefs combine the elements of the everyday space - buildings, roads, bridges, municipal facilities, transportation, and daily necessities - in a high-density collage, and present them in a panoramic manner with the artist's unique architectural drawing method. These chaotic and complex urban spaces filled with hustle and bustle are in sharp contrast to the classic architecture and urban paradigms symbolized by the wall, which altogether constitute an ideal city.
Becoming A Monument shows the appearance of three first-generation social housing in China built in the 1950s after 70 years of use. The rapid urbanization process makes the three buildings located in the same area and with the same function present completely different usage states. Through linear juxtaposition, the work reveals the transformation process of architecture over a long period of time, between practicality and monumentality, materiality and spirituality.
City of Domestic Machine is a series of works exploring mobility and the use of urban public space. The machines that were originally used as means of transportation have been transformed into tools for ordinary citizens to use urban public spaces for free. They enable individual residents to extend their living "territories" in expensive metropolises at minimal cost. City of Domestic Machine further expands the possibility of this urban phenomenon in an exaggerated, absurd and humorous way. The work adds a new meaning to the concept of mobility: to move is not to change location, but is to occupy and use a certain space.
The Cave is a window hole, but also a Yao Dong (cave dwelling). It is a variant of the arch window in Western classical architecture, and also the embodiment of the traditional Chinese cave dwellings. The Cave is also a mini gallery, which displays another work of the exhibition Suddenly This View.
Suddenly This View is a series of urban sketches using models. Through small models with a scale of 1:100, ordinary urban scenes discovered by casual glances are recorded in a fast, simple and direct way. These humble city corners are filled with the poetry of everyday life. Suddenly This View is also a collection of photographic works, shooting models in the way of viewing urban landscapes, fully revealing the microscopic world.
Life Models explores the possibilities of architectural models as a unique artistic medium. In addition to being a design and representational tool for architects, architectural models can also be regarded as a unique artwork, which can be freely converted between traditional art media such as painting, sculpture, and installation; at the same time, as a grass-root medium, it is not only a professional field. From dollhouses to building block toys can be regarded as a kind of model. In this exhibition, Li Han also tries to complete the model quickly and easily. The model may be a three-dimensional sketch, sketch or comic.
For Li Han, making models is both designing architecture and making art. Just like Li Han himself having a blurred identity between architect and artist, the works in the exhibition are also in an ambiguous state that cannot be clearly defined, but this is precisely the most unique and interesting aspect of this exhibition.