A two-person exhibition of work by contemporary Chinese artists Lu Chunsheng (b. 1968, Changchun, Jilin, China and Jia Aili (b.1979, Liaoning, China) at the Institute of International Visual Arts, London.

Both artists reflect on industrial progress, social corrosion and the individual’s struggle in the machine age. Lu Chunsheng’s exhibition presented his new single-channel work that received its UK premiere, The first man who bought a juicer bought it not for drinking juice, that mixes documentary and fantasy to theatrical effect. The characters in the film are both human and mechanical and represent the consequences of the globalised era in their repetition of senseless acts.

Jia Aili’s exhibition presents monumental new paintings and an installation specially created for the window overlooking Rivington Street. A site-specific piece inspired by 16th-century painter Caravaggio’s famous painting The Incredulity of Saint Thomas. In his work, Jia Aili uses a muted colour palette and quick brushwork, conjuring up the disorientating emotions felt in a developing society. One of China’s foremost contemporary artists, Jia Aili’ has developed a practice that reflects on arts and philosophy from both East and West. While the content of his epic figurative paintings is unmistakably of his own time and cultural context, his formal virtuosity and complex layering of narrative reveal a deep and astute working knowledge of the inventions and traditions of painting from the Renaissance to the present day. The artists were selected from a new generation in collaboration with Platform China Contemporary Art Institute and Fountain, London.

Lu Chunsheng graduated from China National Academy of Fine Arts, Department of Sculpture. He has exhibited widely in China and abroad. He resides and works in Shanghai. His exhibitions include the 27th Bienal de Sao Paulo (2006); China Power Station: Part I, Battersea Power Station, (London, UK, 2006); China Contemporary Art, Architecture and Visual Culture, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (Rotterdam, 2006); The Thirteen: Chinese Video Now, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (New York, 2006); Out of Sight, De Appel Foundation (Amsterdam, 2005); Double Vision, 1st Lianzhou International Foto Festival (2005); and Zooming Into Focus: Chinese Contemporary Photography and Video from Haudenschild Collection, National Art Museum (Beijing, 2005); and subsequently in Mexico City and Shanghai.

Jia Aili’s solo exhibitions include Jia Aili, CAC Malaga, Contemporary Art Centre of Malaga, Malaga, Spain (2017); Nothing of Pure Emptiness, Platform China, Beijing, China (2010); The Dharma Bums – Jia Aili Solo Exhibition, Cornell University Hartell Gallery, Ithaca, NY (2010); Good Morning, World!, OCT Contemporary Art Terminal He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen, China (2010); Make Believe, Institute of International Visual Art, London, UK (2010); Duino Elegies, Hong Kong International Art Fair, Hong Kong (2010); JAL: Jia Aili Solo Exhibition, Michael Ku Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan (2009); and The Wasteland, Platform China Contemporary Art Institute, Beijing, China (2007). His work has also been featured in group exhibitions including at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan, The Saatchi Gallery, London, UK; Minsheng Center for Contemporary Art, Shanghai, China; Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China; China National Museum, Beijing, China and Iberia Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China.

The first man who bought a juicer bought it not for drinking juice is the product of a residency at Artpace San Antonio, Texas, organised by Hans Ulrich Obrist. Film commissioned by Artpace San Antonio and supported by ShanghART Gallery, China. The work subsequently toured to Newcastle in partnership with CIRCA Contemporary Art Projects as part of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, a programme of international artist moving image.

The accompanying catalogue to Counterpoints: Lu Chunsheng and Jia Aili includes newly commissioned essays by David Thorp and Keith Whittle and installation photographs.