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    On a surface level, Liao Yibai’s steel sculptures demonstrate a fascination with light, refraction  and  reflection,  reminiscent  of  a  Turner  painting.   When  one  looks  at  the  interplay with time and space there is a sense of childish abandon to his works in the gallery space. However upon closer inspection the reflection and play of light on his stainless  steel  angels  presents  a  mirror  image  of  the  viewer  or  the  environment  in  which  it  lies.  They  provide  a  reality  reflected  back  that  is  a  little  bruised  and  sometimes not as beautiful. These  works  are  not  merely  the  product of  yet  another  Chinese  artist  superficially  tapping  into  the  Zeitgeist  of  environmental  commentary.  They  are  a  product  of  Yibai’s  personal  experiences  and  memories,  seething  with  socio-political  first-hand observations which make the art all the more powerful, adding a visceral dimension to his metallic creatures.Yibai himself grew up in one of China’s Third Front cities, in a chemical production factory he refers to as “Mailbox 5”, due to the lack of a fixed address to the factory.The  factory  itself  was  at  the  time  a  producer  of  missiles  for  China  in  the  Cold  War  stand  off  against  the  West.  Needless  to  say,  the  accident  and  fatality  rate  was  high.  Factory workers would one day ‘disappear’ only to be replaced by new workers. The sounds  of  explosions  were  all  too  familiar  to  him  as  a  child,  indicating  that  either  a  test  had  just  taken  place  or  a  building  had  been  damaged.  Or  an  accident.  A  death.  Years  later  the  artist  changed  his  name  to  Yibai  (100)  to  illustrate  the necessity  for  one hundred percent precision. Almost  universally,  angels  are  symbolic  representations  of  purity,  brightness  and  perfection.  But  Liao  Yibai’s  angels  are  not  perfect.  They  are  scorched  and  dented,  beaten up and shattered, showered in spare parts, evoking an explosion or fire. Yibai’s battered metallic angels are an allegorical representation of the artist himself and his yearning  to  escape  the  destructive  microcosm  into  which  he  was  born  but  also  the  tainting  of  childhood  and  a  loss  of  innocence.  Adding  insight  to  his  experiences,  he  explains:-  

    “When I saw the wreckage flying from the explosions, I couldn’t take it. The explosions would send bolts, clamps, tongs and machine chassis flying. And what goes up must come down, and when they did, they found random places to crush. When I was little I saw a dog struck dead on the spot by a bunch of screwdrivers. This memory lives on in my sculpture language.”  


    His  angels  are  a  symbol  of  the  microcosm,  like  Saint  Exupery’s  Little  Prince,  both  child and philosopher reflecting back our damaged and dangerous world to ourselves-  a  world  of  environmental  devastation  and  unrestrained  technology.  The  angels,  the  dogs  and  cats  are  welded,  scorched,  battered.  They  are  fused  with  hardware,  transformed into a hybrid creature of our technological age. The sounds and memories of the past have informed his work, fused with imagination to create an abstract and confronting reality that raises many questions about the absurdity of the political zero sum  games  of  the  Cold  War,  and  the  absurdity  of  man’s  desire  to  play  God  with  nature and one another.