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Art What!: Leelee Chan selected for next BMW Art Journey, co-presented by BMW and Art Basel

Screenshot 2020-06-22 at 6.24.18 PM
Leelee Chan, BMW Art Journey winner, represented by Capsule, Shanghai. © Leelee Chan

Art Basel and BMW have announced Leelee Chan as the next BMW Art Journey winner. An international jury conducted its selection process unanimously and online, selecting Leelee Chan from a shortlist of three proposals by artists who are represented by galleries originally accepted into this year’s Art Basel in Hong Kong.

Launched in 2015, the BMW Art Journey is a collaboration between Art Basel and BMW, created to recognize and support emerging artists worldwide. Since 2020, the circle of eligible artists has been broadened. It includes emerging and mid-career artists originally participating at Art Basel in Hong Kong represented not only by galleries in the Discoveries sector, but also by galleries that were founded no more than ten years ago.

Leelee Chan, “Sunset Capsule”, site-specific sculptural installation, construction: lights, metal stands, crystal pieces from a scavenged chandelier, concrete, fiberglass, metal hardware, gel filters. Installation dimensions variable, each light ranges from 146 x 38 x 38 cm to 150 x 38 x 38 cm, 146 x 38 x 38 cm, 150 x 38 x 38 cm, 2019. Photo: UCCA Dune. © Leelee Chan and Capsule Shanghai

Leelee Chan’s BMW Art Journey Tokens From Time intends to trace material culture from the past, present and future. The artist will visit artisan families that practice ancient craftsmanship techniques using copper, silver and marble, among other materials, some of which play a role in the artist’s own sculptural practice. Along her journey, Chan will engage in dialogues with scientists and experts to understand how natural materials may be substituted by synthetic materials in the future.

Investigating ancient materials and their future substitutes from the emerging fields of nanotechnology and biotechnology, Leelee Chan’s BMW Art Journey project gives expression to the evolving relationship between people and materials, and touches on contemporary debates surrounding ecological and cultural sustainability.

Leelee Chan, “Protector”, found materials including car windshield, seashells, a bag of chandelier crystal balls, polystyrene packagings, mother of pearl tiles, egg packagings, aqua-resin, resin, fiberglass, concrete, wood, metal hardware, pigment, 179 x 77.5 x 54 cm, 2018. © Leelee Chan and Capsule Shanghai

Spanning from the hand-crafted to the industrial to the post-industrial, the artist’s investigation of materials ultimately asks the question, “What does it mean to be a sculptor today?” In search of an answer, Leelee Chan plans to visit destinations in Europe, Japan and the Americas.

Her final travel itinerary will be determined in observance of current travel and health regulations tied to the Covid-19 pandemic. Says Leelee: “I am beyond excited to be selected for the BMW Art Journey. Material objects have always been at the core of my practice. The journey will allow me to dig much deeper by discovering new processes, by encountering the people who work with them in their everyday lives, and, thereby, to make them meaningful for me as a sculptor working in this current uncertain moment.”

Leelee Chan, “Navel”, scavenged polystyrene packaging and cosmetic container, found seashell, jesmonite, fiberglass, resin, pigment, epoxy putty, 151 x 30 x 30 cm, 2018. © Leelee Chan and Capsule Shanghai

BMW Art Journey’s international jury consisted of Claire Hsu, Director, Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong; Matthias Mühling, Director, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, Munich; Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, President, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; Philip Tinari, Director, UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; and Samson Young, artist and winner of the first BMW Art Journey.

“Leelee Chan’s journey spans across time and space to consider the stories of materials, including metal, stone and crystals, and explore how they have shaped our human experience,” noted the Jury in its statement. “From ancient crystal caves in Mexico to marble workshops in Italy to high-tech synthetic quartz factories in Japan, the artist plans to investigate materials with the help of experts and craft practitioners, both as a source of raw material and as an inspiration for reflection. We were impressed by how Leelee Chan engages with materials that are charged with needs, values and ideas, to ask what it means to be a sculptor working today and tomorrow.”

Find out more about BMW Art Journey on their website here


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