Posts tagged Chinese contemporary art
A couple Chinese artworks I saw on display at the Seattle Art Museum during the summer of 2007 struck me so much that not only did I recognize them when I read about them online here, I remember exactly where they are in the Seattle Art Museum and my reactions to them upon my first view.
Remember those firework footprints in the
Zhuanghuan is one of the most brilliant yet depressing artists I know, likely owing to when he grew up in
Every once in a while I have an experience that reminds me why I want to work for arts clients. My visit to the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) on an unusual Friday off was one of them. Most of the works in the current exhibition made me smile, some made me nearly cry, and even fewer made me grimace. Overall, this art center is a reminder of the positive effects of globalization and art’s vital role in society.
UCCA is considered China’s first nonprofit art organization. Its founders and some of its upper management are foreign, but almost all the art is Chinese, and all of it is contemporary. It’s the only organization in Beijing’s 798 Art Zone to charge admission, but every Thursday is free, and I went during the end of a period about two weeks long of free admission every day in celebration of the Olympics. The bulk of the current work comes from the personal collection of Guy and Myriam Ullens, the center’s founders. Most of its art is from really famous artists, so it inspires to me to see this work available for viewing and experiencing in such a publicly accessible way.
I almost had a heart attack when I discovered “Bloodline Series – Family Portrait 1” by Zhang Xiaogang tucked away in the main exhibition room’s corner. This series will probably be as famous as Andy Warhol’s portraits someday, if it isn’t already. Unlike most of the other fragile work by famous artists at UCCA, it was hung at eye level, making it vulnerable to vandalism, both unintentional and intentional.
I maintain that because Chinese people like to touch visual art much more than I’m used to, good artists who create art for Chinese visitors make it interactive. To enter the exhibition, visitors go through “Space Time Tunnel” by Wang Du, the same artist who created “International Kebab,” my favorite exhibition I’ve seen in 798. Its entrance contains a claustrophobia disclaimer with directions to an alternate entrance. One of my favorite Chinese artists, Cao Fei, made a Second Life world called “RMB City” that is a futuristic combination of famous buildings in all Chinese cities that visitors can explore on a computer.
UCCA may also be one of the best places in Beijing for tourists to shop. I wish I could buy all my postcards there, but alas, they are quite pricey: 10元 (currently about $1.50) each. I may reserve UCCA postcards for family members.
Have you ever had an experience with art that inspired you personally or professionally? Please tell!
I knew sports and entertainment public relations were similar – both involve obtaining sponsorships and managing perceptions of personalities, for starters. But I had failed to notice the direct connection the Olympics has with the arts. This is especially apparent to me, as I work in and live right by the Beijing 798 Art Zone, which has been compared to New York’s SoHo.
In terms of how this affects my daily life, my neighborhood, despite its distance from any major Olympic venues, is clad in Olympic fever. Every shop directly across the street from the 798
The entire city is flooded with tourists, my work, T Space, being no exception. It seems like every gallery in 798 but mine is presenting an Olympic-themed exhibition; however, everyone has a different take on presenting the Olympics. Galleria Continua’s response is to host “Unmoved,” which forces you to take longer than you usually would to look at works in a
And why wouldn’t they? The New York Times reported that the Olympics will bring 10,000 guests a day to 798, three times the typical number. One of my coworkers told me that half the diplomats visiting
Have you observed any connections between art and sports? What are your thoughts on art’s relationship to the Olympics? I welcome your comments.
Yesterday, my supervisor, our gallery curator and I visited four exhibition openings in or near the art district I work in. They were all fabulous, but by far the best was “Unmoved” at Galleria Continua. This is a shining example of the unexpected aspect of what makes ideas stick in the book “Made to Stick.”
A sign displayed in the front window of the gallery read, “Enter gallery at your own risk.” I thought, “What the heck is going on? Since when is it risky to enter a gallery?”
Shortly upon entering the building, we saw two perpendicular white walls about 20 feet tall joined at a banged up corner. Small pieces of drywall lingered below. Other parts of the two walls showed damage, but not as much as the corner. I thought, “Did they damage the wall during the exhibition construction and not have time to fix it?” Then I realized this must be deliberate; maybe it was an installation meant to comment on the rapid combination of destruction and construction in China’s cities, a common motif in Chinese contemporary art.
After obtaining a glass of delicious, chilled champagne – alas, the gallery had run out of the Italian food I’d heard would be there – I returned to the same area to notice a metal sculpture of a dumpster about twice the size of the ones outside my apartment complex this past school year sitting in the middle of the gallery. The dumpster wheeled about 20 feet to crash into the damaged corner then returned to approximately its original position. I then noticed the light track marks on the floor from the dumpster’s many trips, and noticed that the wall had been painted several layers of different colors of paint to systematically show the wear. Sun Yuan and Peng Yu created this installation called “Barbarossa.”
The walls were part of a box that had been built specifically for this exhibition. I waited in a long line to see what was inside the box, ten to fifteen hyper-realistic sculptures of elderly men in automatically moving wheelchairs. Tourists took pictures with the sculptures. I examined each one carefully. I could see why the line was so long; this installation was nothing short of brilliant. I checked the catalogue to discover that it was “Retirement home” by the same artists as “Barbarossa.”
The gallery’s architecture was fabulous; most of it was a three-story, one floor room, but one side contained a three-floor section of the same height. I ventured up the stairs to discover some art that was still great, including a video that made me dizzy due to its rapid movement, but nowhere near as breathtaking as “Retirement home” or “Barbossa.” The third floor revealed a new perspective on the two works, the top angle. I could look down into “Retirement home,” which made it seem much more like a performance piece with the visitors inside as integral elements.
This exhibition proves Galleria Continua’s understanding of sculpture as a three-dimensional form; I’ve visited too many galleries with sculptures in corners. “Retirement home” and “Barbossa” also blur the line between sculpture and performance art, which fascinates me.
So why all this moving art in an exhibition titled “Unmoved”? An excerpt from the exhibition description answers my question:
“Nowadays, it rarely occurs to us to slow down, to stop to extrapolate ourselves from our frenetic lives and observe the world from the privileged position of tranquility and immobility. 21st century humanity is characterised by a deceptive immobility, a stasis hiding behind a veneer of indifference and carelessness.
In the current exhibition, the selected artworks generate an almost uncomfortable situation where time has atypically slowed its rhythm, to the point of almost standing still. All the artworks are either in semi-statis, in some cases quite still, and in others in constant slow movement, inviting the viewer to stop longer in their contemplation, both on a rational and emotional level. In a way, the viewer is unconsciously waiting for something to happen or to be revealed.”