Sponsor: He Xiangning Art Museum Co-sponsor: OCT Group, OCT Properties
Participant Artists (alphabetized):
Ai Weiwei, Arahmaiani (Indonesia), Bai Yiluo, Cao Hui, Feng Feng, Gu Wenda, Cheng Changwei, Cheng Dapeng, Harris Kondosphyris (Greece), Huang Zhiyang (Taiwan), Jesus Palomino (Spain), Li Jiwei, Li Hui, Liang Shaoji, Liu Jianhua, Qin Chong, Qin Yufeng, Song Dong, Thanos Zakopoulos (Greece), UNMASK, Via Lewandowski (German), Wang Shugang, Yuan Shun, Xu Bing, Zhu Jinshi
Curator: Feng Boyi
Curator’s Assistants: Liu Bei, Feng Keru, Wang Dong
Exhibition Time: 16th December,2007-20th May, 2008
Exhibition Venue: OCAT He Xiangning Art Museum
A Landscape To Be Perceived Or Penetrated:
The Sixth Shenzhen Exhibition of Contemporary Sculpture
By Feng Boyi
“Landscape” is a temporal but complete dynamic system that is formed by the interplay of geographical, biological and cultural fields. The concept of contemporary landscape design involves the disciplines of geography, ecology, gardening, architecture, culture, art, philosophy and aesthetics. As an integrated concept that includes nature and humanistic qualities, “landscaping” crosses disciplinary boundaries and conventional modes of thinking, which requires establishing common grounds with other fields.
China is currently in an era of “Great Leap” modernization, where development and change are celebrated as the main themes of the time. The challenges a transitional China faces are all kinds of social problems and phenomena brought up along with its economic booming. On the one hand, the conflicts between social groups of different interests created by the free market economy cannot be settled within the current political frame. On the other hand, such development and change also generate conflicts between our ecological environment and us. The impact of modernization on human life is especially embodied in the worshipping of the subject’s unrestrained power, and the unrestricted developing of natural resources, which, ironically, provides the very ground for modernization. When modernization approaches us with great temptation along with ultimate danger, what it holds high in its hand is the very flag of science. What the scientific values guarantee us is that science provides nothing but truth, which is trans-cultural, without nationalistic or class bias, and is timeless. It is this type of concept that provides the philosophical ground for cultural unification. The key issue today is the very fact that China’s “Great Leap” modernization is going “out of control”.
“Out Of Control” is also the theme of this exhibition, which is an implication of the current situation of “crisis”. The impulse for an artist’s creation comes from the conflict he or she experiences between reality and the artist’s inner world. It is an examination of the artist’s humanist concerns and values, which reside deep in the visual images with spiritual tension. The reality that Chinese artists are facing is the hyper developing economy, which impacts and overturns conventional life and ideas. Ideals of tranquil and peaceful life that have developed from the old life style of past generations are now increasingly at odds with reality, and are swiftly retreating into historical background. Conflicts and pressures are apparent. On the one hand, people aspire for better life, more convenient urban facilities and modern consumerist culture; on the other hand, with unexpected issues and possibilities emerging in the process of modernization, people from different interest groups are experiencing a strong sense of loss in different levels, aspects, qualities and values. Cultural diversity is also in danger of diminishment as old urban and country cultures are both under some kind of “squeezes” and old lifestyle with its cultural spirit and ethical principles are under unprecedented impact. The significance of such impact lays in the fact that it is destroying, though quietly, many spiritual aspects of life including belief and faith. Speaking from this point, we all seem to be in the state of “out of control”, crisis as well as embarrassment.
The theme stated above is exemplified by the works of the participating artists who tend to insert in urban landscape “natural forms” in the concept of “non-sculptural” or “trans-sculptural” art. Nature is beyond the definition and control of human beings and politics. These “natural forms” are based on the artists’ new understanding of the visual characteristics of sculpture, which enables them to utilize natural mediums in their representation of complex and poetic ideas. They are the embodiment of the artists’ attitude to the relationship between artificial urban planning and natural formation, and a demonstration of their keen interest in natural power and formal structure. These works are also examples of the artists’ exploration and experimentation of the possibilities of sculpture. What these artists have in common is their concern with man, society and nature as a whole, which is totally and respectfully represented in their rendering of the living “landscape”. The artists’ understanding of the relationship between man and nature is represented in their works that are based on their absorption and digestion of natural elements. They try to hide artificial traces and put the viewer on the borders between man and nature. Their art is a call for respect for and love of nature, and a call for protecting our ecological environment, in the hope of helping modern people think over the past for the benefit of a new future.
This exhibition is a site-specific show that takes places at the OCT Contemporary Art Center of He Xiangning Art Museum in The Overseas Chinese Town of Shenzhen City, where the exhibited artworks are incorporated into the art center’s space, surrounding environment and facilities. The theme of the exhibition concentrates on contradictions between aspiration and worries about China’s modernization, and conflicts between the spiritual and the ecological worlds. The exhibition is meant to be a showcase for active Chinese artists who vary in ideas, mediums and art languages in their exploration of some of the issues discussed above.
Urbanism or the process of urbanization is an allegorical representation rather than simply scenery. Artists belong to a special group in the urban environment, who deserve our special attention with their sensitivity, insight and unique experience of their environment as well as their critical and humorous styles. New art is likely to emerge in this type of uncertain yet new forms of art, which is accomplished through artistic transformation by artists who are sensitive to the contemporary time period. These artists are not only observers of cultural scenarios but also active participants in expanding their possibilities. What are exhibited in the show are not sceneries from daily life. Rather, they are the products of the artists whose creations are based on their observation and experience of the contemporary “landscape” that have transformed their artistic concepts and methods. The rich visual creativity and imagination that they demonstrate in their illusionary landscape gives the audience brand new visual experience and surrealistic feelings, which is a great contribution to the development of contemporary sculpture in China.
——The International Traveling Exhibition of Chinese Abstract Art
Dates and Venues:
June 1-July 1 OCT Contemporary Art Terminal, Shenzhen
(10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Closed Mondays)
August 2-Sep. 1 Art Now Gallery, Beijing
(11:00 a.m.- 7:00 p.m., Closed Mondays)
Sep. 29-Oct. 17 Artist Commune, Hongkong
(2:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m., Closed Mondays)
Feb. 1-March 1,2008 China Square Gallery, New York
(10:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m., Closed Sundays and Mondays)
There appeared in art history two types of elite liberalism: One is the ancient Chinese theory of “qi-yun”, another is the concept of “avant-garde” expounded by the American art critic Clement Greenberg. They seem to have absolutely nothing to do with each other, but they do provide us with a theoretical reference that is fit for us to make an observation of the Chinese abstract art.
Chinese abstract art is agreed to the value of the liberalism as well as the elite stand, at the same time it has to look for its spiritual resources in native culture so as to rebuild a style and an introspective understanding of the “liberalism in art.” It’s a try to establish an identity of its own in the history of contemporary Chinese art, therefore we can regard this trend as a new development of the term “qi-yun”.
Most of these artists have practical knowledge in both Oriental and Occidental culture, especially the ability to think about cultural problems and the ability to search for personal expression. At the same time, almost every one of them has received very strict training in realistic depiction. Though they have different reasons and approaches to abstract art, they share the same aesthetic logic in their choice of search for free expression and thoroughly understanding in innermost being. From the free relationship between the mind and the mood of the Daoism, Qiu Shi-hua understands the meaning of vacant time and space; as for Li Hua-sheng, he draws something from the traditional Chinese landscape to develop the value of temperament by writing repeatedly. Wang Chuan benefits considerably from the great abstract expressionists like William De Kooning and Robert Motherwell, etc. His creation, after going through a life-and-death struggle, has turned to be quiet, unconventional and even elegant. Shen Chen is looking for the implication of freedom by fusing the abstract language of the West with the free and natural state of the East. Yang Zhi-hong, despite of his mastery of the essence of the American abstract expressionism, and his deep understanding of the Chinese natural symbolism and the tradition of mysticism, still makes his work full of oriental atmosphere. As a representative of Chinese “experimental ink painting”, Liu Zi-jian’s “black painting“ is in terms of its spirit very much like the free and unfettered journey of the modern version. Because of her indulgence in modern French formalism, Zhou Li’s art seems especially to be intelligent and transparent. Her identity as an oriental female can only be explained by the elegant and sensitive quality of her work. Lin Yan’s art originally comes from the concept art of “minimalism”; she uses the Oriental media of the (xuan) paper and the ink to enrich the “minimalism” with greater cultural dimensions.
Contemporary Chinese abstract art contains the above-mentioned traditions of liberalism, its “avant-garde” is often reflected by the languages they borrowed from the Western-styled abstraction, and even their elite stand for liberalism expressed through the abstract art, and their approval and understanding of the individualism in the tradition of their native culture.
Li Huasheng was born in Yibin,Sichuan in 1944 and presently lives and works in Chengdu,Sichuan. His thirteen solo exhibitions were respectively held in Harvard University Museum,Yale University Museum, University of Michigan, University of Washington and University of Detroit, as well as National Museum of Singapore , City Hall in Hong Kong and Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco,etc. His artworks were also showed in Kunsthalle Weimar,UB Anderson Gallery ,Buffalo,NY,USA , Seoul Museum of Art, China National Museum of Fine Arts, Shanghai Art Museum, Chengdu Modern Gallery, Nanjing Museum,etc. He was awarded No.2020 Commendation by the Michigan Senate.
Born in Beijing in 1961 to a distinguished lineage of artists, Lin Yan now lives and works in New York. After graduating from the Department of Oil Painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 1984, she continued her studies at L’Ecole National Superieur des Beaux-Arts, in Paris, and then graduated from the Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania in 1989 with her Master of Arts. Lin initially exhibited in the “First Annual Exhibition of the China Oil Painting Association” in Beijing in 1979. Her first American solo exhibition featured the series “Tai Chi in Painting,” which infused Chinese philosophy into her own language of “constructing paintings.” Lin’s most recent solo and group exhibitions include China National Museum of Fine Arts in Beijing, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, the Westport Arts Center in Connecticut, Spool MFG in New York, the Art Complex Museum in Massachusetts, China 2000 Fine Art, Wave Hill Culture Center and Cheryl McGinnis Gallery in New York City.
Liu Zijian was born in Shashi, Hubei in 1956. He graduated from Hubei Academy of Fine Arts in 1983 and now works as associate professor in Shenzhen University at present. He began his abstract ink painting in 1985 and participated in “China Avant-Garde” in 1989. His artworks were exhibited in Palace Rihour Lille, Pacific Asia Museum,Guggenheim Art Museum, Fukuoka Modern Art Museum, Irish Museum of Modern Art, China National Museum of Fine Arts, He Xiangning Art Museum, Shanghai Art Museum, Guangdong Art Museum, Nanjing Art Museum, Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum, Hongkong Art Community, etc. He is the representative of experimental ink painting of China.
Born in Sichuan in 1940,Qiu Shihua was graduated from the Xian Academy of Fine Arts in 1962 concentrated in oil painting.He then moved to Shenzhen in 1984 and currently resides
in both China and San Francisco.He had nineteen solo exhibitions in Chambers Fine Arts(NY),Hanart Gallery(HK),Künstlerverein Malkasten(Germany), Basel Kunsthalle(Switzerland).
He participated in “China! New Art Post-1989 ” in 1995, “The 23rd St. Paul International Biennale” in1996, “The 48th La Biennale di Venezia” in 1999, and “The 2nd Berlin Biennale” in 2001. His paintings were also exhibited in Hamburger Kunsthalle(Germany), Kunstmuesum Bern (Switzerland), Zacheta National Gallery of Art (Warsaw), Kunsthaus Graz (Austria), Houston Contemporary Art Museum, Shanghai Art Museum(China),and etc.
Shen Chen was born in Shanghai in 1955. He graduated at the Shanghai Art Institute in1978. His works were chosen to be exhibited in the “Annual Exhibition of Shanghai Oil Paintings” and the “Grand Exhibition of Emerging Shanghai Artists”.Upon graduation with a BFA from the Shanghai Academy of Theater in 1982, he moved to Beijing, where he began creating his “Untitled” abstract ink paintings; he became one of the most important artists in the new wave of experimental abstract ink painting. In 1984, he had his first solo show in Beijing. He had solo showsin China National Museum of Art, the Academy of Fine Art in Rome in the years follow. In 1988, he was awarded an artist’s fellowship residency at Skowhegan, Maine. The second year, he received an MFA from BostonUniversity. He settled down in New York in 1991 and began to produce “Diary”, a series of new paintings, which illustrates the evolution and development of the form and content of his abstract works. Since 2001, his works were again titled “Untitled”, but with a dramatic change in his painting style: an emphasis on concept and an arrestingly concise visual vocabulary surpass his earlier abstract ink paintings in his use of materials and concepts. From 2005 to the present, he had his solo shows at the Crystal Art Foundation, Gallery 456, etc. His works were also shown in “Grand Exhibition of international Ink Paintings” at the Asian Cultural Center as well as “Queens Museum International Biennale” in Queens Museum of Art.
Born in Chengdu, Sichuan Provincein 1953. Graduated from Chinese Painting Department of SichuanArtAcademy in 1982. Settled in NY as a permanent resident in 1997. Wang Chuan was diagnosed with the gastric cancer in 1998, but he continued to work hard with a positive and peaceful attitude during the time. Now he lives in Beijing and Shenzhen. Wang Chuan organized the first street exhibition “Zero ”in Shenzhen and it was placed in the national “85’ Art Movement”. His solo exhibition “Blackness” was deem the start mark of the Conceptual Ink Painting Movement of China. Wang Chuan created the oil painting “Farewell,Village Road” in 1980s and became the representative of The Scar Painting.This painting was collected by NorwayModernArt Museum. His artworks were also displayed at Ferrara Arts Museum(Italy), Herrenhof Mussbach(Germany), Seoul Museum of Art(Korea), China National Museum of Fine Arts(Beijing), He Xiangning Art Museum(Shenzhen), Guangdong Art Museum(Guangzhou), Shanghai Art Museum(Shanghai), Zhu Qizhan Art Museum(Shanghai), Chengdu Art Museum(Chengdu), Hongkong Art Museum(HK), Hanart Gallery(HK), etc.
Born in Tao Yuan Country, Taipei in 1947. Chihung Yang graduated from the painting department of National Taiwan Colleage of Art. He was awarded two years’ residency at the clock tower by P.S.1 during 1984-86. His first solo exhibition in Europe was held at Fabian Carlsson Gallery (London) in 1986. His works has been represented by Michael Walls Gallery (NY) from 1987 to 1993. Since 1996 till now he has been shown at O’Hara gallery in New York City. He has had about fifty solo exhibitions, including Asian Arts Institute(NY), Sejong Museum(Seoul), Museo de Arte Costarricense,(San Jose,Costa Rica), National History Museum(Taipei), Mountain Art Museum(Kaoshiung), Asia Art Center(Taipei), etc. He also participated over one hundred group shows, such as held at Ueno Museum of Art(Tokyo),National Museum of Modern Art(Seoul), Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art(Ridgefield,CT), The Paine Art Center(Wisconsin), Las Vegas Art Museum(Las Vegas),The Taipei Fine Arts Museu(Taipei), China National Museum of Fine Arts(Beijing), He Xiangning Art Museum(Shenzhen), Guangdong Art Museum(Guangzhou), Shanghai Art Museum(Shanghai),etc. Chihung Yang was awarded the “Outstanding Asian-American Artist” by the governor of New York State in 1989.
Born in Hunan in 1969 province. Graduated from Oil Paiting Department of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 1982. Zhou Li settled in France in 1995 and presently lives in Shenzhen. Her solo exhibitions were held at Galerievereir Leonberg, Virgima Tech University Gallery, La cour des arts Gallery (France),China National Museum of Fine Arts, and He Xiangning Art Museum, etc. She also participated in the exhibitions “La chair et I’Esprit” (France), “Paris ITINERAIRES “(France) and “XXXIV Monaco Monte Carol Contemporary Art Exhibition” in 2000 and won The Monaco City Award. Zhou Li has exhibited in a series of exhibitions titled “The World behind the Window” in recent ten years, and the style of the work shows her personal character.