ArtSlant: Things Lost and Found

Unclaimed Objects: Yang Jian solo show

Where Where Art Space, No. 319-1, East End Art Zone A, Caochangdi Village, Chaoyang District, Beijing

16 June – 15 July, 2012

In the exhibition text for Unclaimed Objects, artist Yang Jian recounts the story of a parasitic fungus which lives in the stomach of a cow, and spreads by passing out of the cow via it’s dung which in turn infects ants in the vicinity. The fungus then implants an urge in the ants to present themselves to be eaten by the next cow, thus passing into the new cow’s system. This life-cycle is presented very specifically as a “story” by the artist and—while there are reports of such occurrences—this aspect of fiction versus truth forms a background to his collected objects and narratives in currently on display at Where Where Art Space.

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ArtSlant: Tang Reaches for the Stars

Tracing the Milky Way: Chen Zhen, Huang Yong Ping, Shen Yuan, Wang Du, Yan Pei-Ming, Yang Jiechang

Tang Contemporary, Gate No.2, 798 Art District, Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China

26 March – 14 May, 2011

It may seem contrary, but I can’t ignore how new or renovated art spaces affect the way works are shown and received, as well as how they represent a gallery’s plans and priorities. Any conclusions drawn remain highly speculative, but in the physical remains left behind by the development process, the choices made and priorities focused upon as manifest in the physical spaces, we can perhaps gain some insight into the nature of a gallery.

Thai gallery Tang Contemporary originally opened their Beijing space in 2006 and have occupied their site with a series of large-scale installations and commissions. One in particular which stands out for me was Sun Yuan and Peng Yu’s Freedom in 2009, which seemed to push the space to an extreme, saturating the structure in gallons of water from its serpentine fire-hose. Although not necessarily a consequence of this piece, at the end of 2010 Tang made the traumatic leap of gutting the space and starting again from scratch.

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ArtSlant: Monuments to What?

Constructing Form: Ma Qiusha, Tang Hui, Li Yousong

Beijing Commune, 798 Art District, 4 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China

27 February – 20 March, 2011

[It may appear that I have something of an unhealthy obsession with Leng Lin (Director of Pace Beijing and Founder of Beijing Commune) and his activities, having now written two pieces about shows in which he has directly or indirectly been involved. Maybe this means he is doing something right, to have attracted my attention so often. That said, the reason those particular shows have attracted my attention has been for negative reasons, due to a lack I’ve seen in the quality of the work or the quality of the presentation. So, although I’m reviewing a show at Beijing Commune this week, for once I will concentrate on the artists’ own work.]

Constructing Form is a small group show presenting three Chinese artists—Tang Hui, Li Yousong and Ma Qiusha—including drawings, paintings and collages produced over the last two years. The artists all deal with a human relationship to architecture, but between the three of them, show two distinct approaches to this subject matter.

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ArtSlant: Pedestrian Potentialities?

19 Solo Shows About Painting (Bi Jianye, Huang Liang, Jia Aili, Jin Shan, Liao Guohe, Li Qing, Liu Weijian, Lin Yen Wei, Ma Ke, Qin Qi, Qi Wenzhang, Sun Xun, Sun Wen, Song Yuanyuan, Wu Guangyu, Xiao Bo, Xiao Jiang, Xu Ruotao, Zhou Yilun)

Platform China, Caochangdi, Beijing, China

12 March – 31 May, 2011

Over the last few years Platform China has established a strong programme of shows, displaying refreshing latitude with respect to exhibition formats and presentation of artworks.

A couple of highlights for me included the extravagant group show “Jungle” from early last year. This expansive show continually refreshed itself over its two-month period, inviting the artists to adapt their installations and bringing in new artists. In what seems to have been a precursor to the current trend in Beijing of withdrawing the curator from the process of the show, “Jungle” eschewed such a figure or even an strong theme leaving the results in the hands of the artists (for better or worse).

At the end of 2010 “The Third Party” (which I reviewed on this site) represented the opposite stance in relation to curation, with Beatrice Leanza taking, if not centre stage as curator, then at least a dominant role, corralling the large collection of alternative practices.

And so we reach the current offering: “19 Solo Shows About Painting” has been produced by the Platform China Contemporary Art Institute as the first of what they propose will be an annual series of shows. Stepping back into curatorially-bereft territory, “19 Solo Shows…” mirrors the format of “Jungle,” with an extended collection of artists and a sprawling layout taking up a large part of both of Platform’s buildings. But this time the focus is squarely on painting and its presentation.

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ArtSlant: Will the Pace Beijing Curator Please Stand Up?

Beijing Voices: Together or Isolated

Pace Beijing, 798 Art District, Beijing, China

30 December, 2010 – 28 February, 2011

Although at first glance an example of the stopgap shows thrown up during Beijing’s slow season of Christmas through Chinese New Year, Pace Beijing have laid on a group show with grander aspirations. Beijing Voices: Together or Isolated addresses recent questions about the development of gallery shows in Beijing and the role of curators in general, but cuts the rug from under its feet with its confused presentation.

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ArtSlant: Growing Pains

HomeShop, Jiaodaokoubei2tiao 8, Dongcheng District, 10007 Beijing, China

A concern with the “everyday” happens to coincide for two of Beijing’s experimental spaces: both Vitamin Creative Space (whose Pavilion I addressed previously on ArtSlant) and HomeShop see it as grist to their mills. This past December, HomeShop moved into their new premises in a former Danwei dormitory in central Beijing. This move took place amidst an ongoing self-analysis of the relationship of their activities with the everyday and the sustainability of their practice.

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ArtSlant: Busy Beehive

Review of The Third Party Part 1: How to Be Alone (or nowhere else am I safe from the question: why here?)

Platform China, 319-1 East End Art Zone A, Caochangdi Village, 100015 Beijing, China

November 11, 2010 – November 30, 2010

Developing quite a reputation as a space which encourages experimentation in their shows, Platform China currently have two shows which in their own ways leave some breathing space in the works and the formats of presentation – a rare and noteworthy situation within the oftentimes banal Beijing gallery environment.

In Platform’s Caochangdi space right now their upstairs gallery is devoted to a solo show by Chinese artist Jin Shan, presenting his mercurial series of mini-videos “One Man’s Island” as a scattered installation of monitors and projections, marking out a complex space with these recordings of the artists minor activities. But the focus of this review is actually downstairs, in a smaller room to one side of the entrance, where a rather heartening group show has been installed, which literally and theoretically opens up a space for a physical negotiation with the works on display and for discussion around them.

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