The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) (2 June 2019–5 January 2020) is an inter-generational show of 21 Chinese artists working from the 1980s to the present, including Ai Weiwei, Cai Guo-Qiang, Lin Tianmiao, Song Dong, He Xiangyu, Yin Xiuzhen, and Ma Qiusha.Staged on Level 2 of LACMA's Renzo...
When the London-born artist Thomas J Price graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Chelsea College of Arts in 2004, the school's college art prize was by no means his most notable accomplishment as an emerging artist. In 2001, Price presented his much-talked-about work Licked, a daring performance, later profiled on the BBC 4 television...
To coincide with Art Basel 2019, which opens to the public from 13 to 16 June, galleries and institutions across the city are presenting a range of stellar exhibitions. From Rebecca Horn at Museum Tinguely to Geumhyung Jeong at Kunsthalle Basel, here is a selection of what to see.William Kentridge, Dead Remus (2014–2016). Charcoal on found ledger...
Delicate brush strokes on paper – calligraphy, lyrical subjects, perhaps woodblock prints on handmade stock.
These are the things that most commonly spring to mind when it comes to Chinese ink art – ancient methods and traditional subjects, perhaps reinterpreted in a contemporary context but always recognisable. Recognisable and safe, from both a local and a western perspective.
And yet, in the past decade, traditional Chinese ink art has been swiftly and comprehensively turned on its head, with a new generation of artists using the medium to question tradition, experiment with form and ruminate on what it means to be an artist in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong today.
Pan Hsin-hua is a contemporary ink painter who renders delicate, surrealistic scenes through traditional brush-and-ink style. Though technically rooted in tradition, Pan Hsin-hua belongs to a league of Taiwanese artists who are breathing new life into the medium by highlighting its endless technical potentials. Since graduating from Taipei National University of the Arts in 1991, Pan Hsin-hua's works have been exhibited extensively in Taiwan and internationally.
More resilient than the traditional Xuan paper, Pan Hsin-hua constructs his ink paintings on Hemp paper, which comes from Puli, an urban township in Taiwan's Nantou County. The paper is treated with Alum, which gives it the earthy wash characteristic of an ancient map or mural. Adding water to opaque mineral pigments, he builds the different parts of his paintings layer by layer, avoiding too much build-up of ink so as to retain the paper's texture. He carefully composes the work in mogu or 'boneless' style—a traditional compositional technique in which perspective is absent and forms seemingly float about the picture plane. Influenced by his childhood spent in Taiwan's lush Taitung County, Pan Hsin-hua draws elements from the natural world such as dusty pastel moths, lotus leaves and flowers together with the occasional cherub-like child to form playful scenes.
Pan Hsin-hua's work has been presented in a number of institutional shows both in Taiwan and around the world, including Vanish Landscape, a solo exhibition held at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in 1999, and Landscape to Mindscape of Floating World: Contemporary Art from Taiwan, held in 2010 at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, and the Mitsuo Aida Museum in Tokyo. The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts also presented Pan Hsin-hua's work in the group exhibition Memories Overlapped and Interwoven: Post-Martial Law Period Ink Painting in Taiwan in 2017. The exhibition shed light on the evolution of ink during the authoritative system of Martial Law and how the art has thrived since the lifting of Martial Law in 1987. Pan Hsin-hua's work was also exhibited in Australia in the travelling exhibition INK REMIX: Contemporary art from mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong (2015–17), which was exhibited at a number of venues including Canberra Museum and Gallery, and Museum of Brisbane. Pan Hsin-hua currently lives and works in Taipei and Hualien.
He Xiangyu (何翔宇) is part of a new generation of Chinese conceptual artists whose work tests the limits of taste and perception, while critiquing sociopolitical issues such as rapid urbanisation and the impacts of global capitalism. Seemingly simple in their form and aesthetics, his projects are often collaborative and sometimes take several years to realise.
His Coca-Cola Project (2009-12) is exemplary of this, for which the artist boiled 127 tonnes of Coca-Cola over a year, transforming it into a bitumen-like residue that he then assembled into multiple configurations. One such configuration saw the artist grinding the residue into a powder that he used to create Song dynasty-style ink paintings. This multi-layered work involved a labour force based in his hometown of Dandong, near the North Korean border, where he employed ten workers to construct iron vessels that were used to transform the liquid. In the drawn-out mutation of a liquid synonymous with Western capitalism, He offered commentary on the relationship between art production and consumption.
These ideas also imbued his Tank Project (2011-13), the production of which also necessitated a work force—this time an entire factory of female needle workers. He used 400 pieces of fine Italian leather in order to reconstruct a life-size military tank (an object of recurrence in many episodes of Chinese modern history); its disparate form and material conflated power with desire.
He's practice often takes a localised approach, as seen in his move towards film and video for the Evidence project, which was exhibited at White Cube Bermondsey in London in 2018 (7 February-8 April 2018). Zeroing in on his hometown of Dandong, He examined the complex geopolitical position of the Kuandian area and its position beside North Korea, namely its separation from the country by the Yanlu River. This examination is particularly potent in the artist's feature-length film The Swim (2017), which premiered at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in February 2017. Basing himself in Dandong with a film crew over the course of two years, He explored through a series of interviews the area as a site of relocation for defectors escaping from North Korea along with veterans who fought in the Korean War (1950-1953).
In the making of The Swim, He discovered that before fleeing, many defectors scavenge objects of minimal value that they bring with them to China and sell on arrival. In his video work Evidence (2017), He restages the meticulous process performed by defectors in order to enable the transportation of these objects. Upon this discovery, he collected these objects himself and exhibited them at his solo exhibition at White Cube Bermondsey. In a 2018 conversation with Ocula Magazine, He expressed his initial unease with this project, noting how 'working on the objects meant consuming or exploiting them.'
Born in 1986 in Lianoning, China, He Xiangyu graduated from the Oil Painting Department at Shenyang Normal University in 2008. He has exhibited in numerous exhibitions and biennales around the world, including the Busan Biennale (2014), the Yokahoma Triennale (2014) and the 13th Biennale de Lyon (2015). In 2013, his work was included in 28 Chinese, an exhibition at the Rubell Family Collection in Miami that was the result of six research trips the Rubells made to China between 2001 and 2012, during which time they acquired artwork from 28 artists.
He Xiangyu lives and works in Beijing and Berlin.
The artist, critic, and curator Yao Jui-chung received a degree in Art Theory from the National Institute of The Arts (now the Taipei National University of the Arts) in 1994. He currently serves as an associate professor at the Department of Fine Arts of the National Taiwan Normal University. He specializes in photography, installation art, and art theory. The themes of his works are varied, but most importantly they examine the absurdity of the human condition.
His works have been shown internationally, including Facing Faces - Taiwan at the 47th Venice Biennale, Taiwan Pavilion, Venice, Italy (1997); The Introduction of Taiwan's Contemporary Art Vol. 4 at MOMA Contemporary, Japan (1998); the Yokohama Triennale, Japan (2005); Everything Will Fall Into Ruin at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan (2006); the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT6), Australia (2009); the Taipei Biennial, Taiwan (2010); and the 20th Biennale of Sydney. His work has been collected by the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan; the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan; the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan; the Queensland Art Gallery, Australia; the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art Collection, Cornell University, New York; and the Bibliothèque National de France, Paris, France; among many other private and public collections.
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