Liu Chuang, “BBR1 (No.1 of Blossom Bud Restrainer) No.2,” 2016, Female poplar seeds collected in Beijing, acrylic and air pump, Dimensions variable. Shanghai Himalayas Museum installation view, 2017


Liu Chuang’s works “BBR1 (No.1 of Blossom Bud Restrainer) No.2” and “Female Poplar Seeds from Beijing” shed light on our efforts to find scientific solutions to contemporary problems, while also suggesting the limitations we have and will continue to encounter. Consisting of video and specimens of catkin flower clusters, the works explore the narrative surrounding poplar trees and the biological hormone developed by the Scientific Studies of Landscape Architecture at the Beijing Institute to control the growth of willow catkins, which are highly flammable and harmful to our respiratory systems. The product is now available in local markets and the online shopping website Taobao.

The artist Liu Chuang theorizes that injecting the hormone directly into the trees might result in a corresponding rise to future amounts of poplar catkins; energy that had originally been invested into budding and flowering, will now be redirected to the growing of trunks and leaves, thus requiring greater levels of the hormone in the future. It is hard to say whether the artist is merely being pessimistic about such scientific approaches – with impacting results that have yet to be determined – or is rather implying the innate limitations of all scenarios; the benefits will always counterbalance the side effects. Such considerations naturally draw our attention to the continuous perseverance of mankind.

Liu Chuang (Hubei Province, 1978) is a Beijing-based artist who works primarily with sculpture, film, and installation. Known for engaging the borders of social, economic, and urban realities, he charts a manifold understanding of the systems and patterns that underpin and structure our everyday experience of moder­ nity. Liu closely analyses the traits shared amongst objects and patterns, with a particular focus towards how they resurrect themselves through dif­ ferent periods in time by adapting into new variants. He has had recent solo exhibitions at Magician Space, Beijing (2015), K11 Wuhan, Wuhan (2015), Taikang Art Space, Beijing (2014), Kunsthall Stavanger, Stavanger (2014), Salon 94 Freemans, New York (2014), and participated in major group exhibitions at Foundation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2016), Para Site, Hong Kong (2016), 10th Shanghai Biennale curated by Anselm Frank, Shanghai (2014), 10th Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju (2014), UCCA, Beijing (2013), and Whitechapel Gallery, London (2012).