ArtSlant: Museum for the Times

A Museum That is Not: ChART Contemporary, HomeShop, Hu Xiangqian, Liu Ding, Museum of American Art in Berlin, Museum of Unknown, Wilfredo Prieto, Wu Jie, Zhang Xiangxi, curated by Nikita Yingqian Cai

Guangdong Times Museum, Times Rose Garden, Huang Bian Bei Lu, Bai Yun Da Dao, 510440 Guangzhou

11 September – 30 October, 2011

The premise put forward by curator Nikita Cai for A Museum That is Not favours a broad engagement with the idea of the museum, the related social and material effects of such an institution, as well as the point at which it becomes other than a museum (or—to view it from the other direction—the point at which the other becomes a museum). What we are presented with is a show that, while somewhat disparate, includes tangential approaches that refresh the overall theme while avoiding proscription of its meanings.

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ArtSlant: Fantastic Five

Realism by Yan Xing (part of 5 Solo Shows: Yan Xing, Christian Schoeler, Li Gang, Hu Qingyan and Cheng Ran)

Galerie Urs Meile, Caochangdi, Beijing, China

3 September – 23 October, 2011

Presenting five solo shows at once in their Beijing spaces seems an odd approach by Galerie Urs Meile. They state that it provides a way to present a selection of new works by some of their less established artists, and I expect it avoids the difficulty of finding an overarching theme for a group show. But in this case it seems each artist gets short shrift, without the opportunity to present a sufficient body of work to allow for more than a very basic understanding of their practice. Christian Schoeler perhaps gets the best out of this arrangement, with a large room for his technically competent paintings. On the other hand, Cheng Ran is insufficiently represented with only a single video work. I understand this fascinating artist will be having a major solo show at this same gallery later in the year, which begs the question: why include him now in a way that does this him little justice?

Putting these questions aside, it’s fortunate that 5 Solo Shows gives the opportunity to see the work of another very strong artist, Yan Xing. Yan Xing is an interesting character. As an openly gay man he lives in a country (if not a world) that tends to frown upon (if not actively suppress) displays of sexuality that are deemed outside of the norm. He maintains a personal blog of articulate and up-front missives about his life and thoughts and has become something of a minor celebrity within the online universe in China. His outspoken comments have positioned him as something of an informal representative for gay life in this country.

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ArtSlant: Dialogue with History

Image History Existence – Taikang Life 15th Anniversary Art Collection Exhibition

National Art Museum of China, 1 Wusi Dajie, East District, 100010 Beijing, China

20 August – 7 September, 2011

 

It’s not often I get excited about the significance of an exhibition, and while Image History Existence is not perfect, I believe it is an important show in the issues it brings to play and in the constructive fashion with which it deals with them.

This survey show celebrates the 15th anniversary of the art collection of Taikang Life, one of China’s top insurance firms, founded by Chen Dongsheng (previously founder of China Guardian Auctions). Chen has put together a rather remarkable collection of artworks, covering a broad range of periods in Chinese modern and contemporary production.

This exhibition is straight-forwardly divided into three semi-chronological sections: “Revolution and Enlightenment,” covering the early period of China’s modern history from 1942 until 1989, this period symbolically ending with artist Xiao Lu’s controversial installation Dialogue (more on which below); “Pluralist Patterns,” which addresses the ’85 New Wave movement and its aftermath up to the present day; and, “Extended Vision,” which marks a shift in methodology from collecting existing work, to commissioning new works from emerging artists through the 51m2 Project Space, part of the organisation’s non-profit Taikang Space.

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forces at play

A draft introduction for next week’s review on ArtSlant, but which I cut in the end.

The final form of an exhibition can be seen as a window into the processes at work in its creation. Some of these aspects become visible once a show is open to scrutiny, some remain obscure, but this crystallisation of processes through exhibition is instructive as a trace of the forces at play. In an institution such as the National Art Museum of China, perhaps because of its role as representative of national culture, these forces become far broader across sections of society outside of the artworld, and thus more significant.

ArtSlant: Lions and Tigers and Mirrors Oh My!

Propaganda Pavilion – Wang Wei solo show

Boers-Li Gallery, 1-706 Hou Jie, 798 Art District, No.2 Yuan, Jiuxianqiao Lu, Beijing 100015, China

11 August – 11 September, 2011

For what is obviously such a large and weighty intervention, the mirrored surfaces of Wang Wei’s Propaganda Pavilion create an almost insubstantial structure as it cuts diagonally across Boers-Li’s upstairs gallery, disrupting the visitors’ procession and views through the spaces. The Pavilion is a reconstruction of a common form of display structure, with suggestions of Socialist architecture in its original forms. In this case the artist has taken an example from Beijing Zoo, where it holds information panels and imagery related to the animals around it. As presented by the artist however, completely cocooned in mirrored glass, it facets and disrupts, diaphanous in its physicality and difficult to pin down.

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