All the World Is Green
February 27 - April 16, 2024

Helen J Gallery is thrilled to announce Ai Jing’s solo exhibition, All the World is Green – her first in Los Angeles and with the gallery, opening on February 27th, 2024.

“An unappeased yearning to return” -- as Milan Kundera described nostalgia -- fuels Ai Jing’s forays into painting, video, and installation. The acclaimed multi-hyphenate artist, musician, writer, and actress channels recollections from her unpretentious and buoyant childhood, distilled into the exhibitions’ centerpiece, the life-sized Girl on Swing. Surrounding color field paintings and a recreated meadow underneath parallels her memories “of Northeastern Chinese villages, which were drenched in colorful harvest: the corn fields, gold: the sun, different shades of green.”

Yet earlier in her career, Ai followed the opposite impulse, as recounted in her hit folk-rock single, My 1997: “I left my hometown of Shenyang at 17 / Because that place isn’t where I’ll find my dream.” Only after international acclaim and years spent abroad did Ai experience a yearning to return. By then, the booming factories that employed her family had been repurposed and the country transformed. “We have lost the spirit of that epoch, we need to reclaim it,” Ai laments.

A cast of characters from her past inhabits Ai’s autobiographical approach. In her Mr. R series, Ai reacts to pivotal works by Mark Rothko whose latent influence prompted her to explore abstraction firsthand. Tom Wait’s hopeful but melancholic song, All the World is Green, resonates in Ai’s exhibition title and mirrors her broader outlook. Ai’s chance encounter with a Keith Haring book bearing ‘LOVE’ on its cover turned the ubiquitous phrase into her personal mantra, recurring under dense layers of saturated oils. Ai’s family, however, are her true muses, whether her artisan grandfather, her musician father, or her late mother, whose unwavering presence during years of hardship makes her the central figure of Ai’s narrative.

“Sentimentality is a trap,” Ai cautions, and so is ignoring the past. Working against a backdrop of social and environmental crises worldwide, she remembers the optimism of Shenyang’s factories, and reminds that “we must firmly believe that our hands can create the future.”

Maybe when our story’s over,
We’ll go where it’s always spring,
The band is playing our song again,
And all the world is green.

-Tom Waits, All the World is Green


Helen J Gallery is a contemporary art gallery based in Los Angeles. Specializing in Asian art and design, the gallery features vibrant programming and exhibitions geared towards embracing Asian culture and the diaspora. Our program aims to promote artists from various geographic locations and diverse backgrounds, foster cross-continental dialogue, and broaden the understanding of Asian culture in the Los Angeles area and beyond.

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