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Chinese multidisciplinary artist Wallace Chan, who has pioneered titanium’s unprecedented use for large-scale sculptures, will present his sculpture exhibition TOTEM at the Fondaco Marcello in Venice, launching during the opening week of the 59th Venice Biennale. TOTEM, which refers to an esteemed ancestral spirit, interconnects the philosophical aspects of Wallace Chan’s Buddhist faith, including his reverence for the natural world and the innate qualities of the materials he uses in his sculptural work. The exhibition features an installation work composed of multiple unassembled parts of Chan’s 10 metre titanium sculpture (A Dialogue Between Materials and Time, Titans XIV) positioned across the floorspace of Fondaco Marcello.
The spectacle of Chan’s installation does not belong to a singular form but rather is produced by the relationship between its multiple parts. Once unassembled, the integrity of the sculpture as a unified form is removed, suggesting the fragility and imminent collapse of a previous order. It symbolises the social fragmentation and uncertainty experienced around the world today in global issues such as polarised politics and climate change.
By displacing the sculpture's fragmented pieces of iron beam and carefully-modelled titanium heads across the floor, viewers are invited to approach the sculptural elements up close and from differing viewpoints, encouraging new perspectives. The experience of walking amongst the deconstructed sculpture heightens awareness of the work’s relationship to the space around it. A diagram instructing how to install the sculpture as a whole is displayed within the exhibition, intimating a hope for reassembly, union and rebalance.
Wallace Chan (b. 1956) is a Hong-Kong based, self-trained artist whose material-focused practice encompasses jewellery, sculpture and carving. He began as a gemstone carver in 1973 and gained worldwide recognition for pioneering titanium’s unprecedented use in art. He was the first Chinese jewellery artist to exhibit at TEFAF Maastricht and Biennale des Antiquaires. His works are in the permanent collections of the British Museum (2019), the Beijing Capital Museum (2010), and the Ningbo Museum (2010).
Chan has had solo exhibitions at Canary Wharf (London, 2022); Fondaco Marcello (Venice, 2021), where he will be exhibiting again in 2022; Asia House (London, 2019); Christie’s (Hong Kong, 2019; Shanghai, 2021), the Gemological Institute of America Museum (Carlsbad, 2011); the Capital Museum (Beijing, 2010); Kaohsiung Museum of History (Taiwan, 1999), and Deutsches Edelsteinmuseum (Idar-Oberstein, 1992).
He has given talks and lectures at prestigious institutions including Tongji University (Shanghai, 2021), DIVA Museum (Antwerp, 2021), the British Museum (London, 2019), Royal College of Art (London, 2019 & 2021); University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong, 2019), Christie’s Education (Hong Kong, 2019); Gem-A (London, 2018); Sarabande Foundation: Established by Lee Alexander McQueen (London, 2018); Sciences Po (Paris, 2018); Harvard University (Cambridge, 2017); Central Saint Martins (London, 2017); V&A Museum (London, 2016) and Christie’s (Paris, 2014).
Calle del Traghetto, 3415, 30123 Venezia, Italy