ArtSlant: In Bed with Zhang Xiaogang

16:9 Zhang Xiaogang (Curated by Leng Lin)

Today Art Museum, Pingod Community, No.32 Baiziwan Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing

December 9 – 26, 2010

With an artist as well known as Zhang Xiaogang, it’s perhaps difficult to move audience perceptions on from the clichés of “Chinese art” which his work has, for better or worse, become an image for. This problem is equally true for the artist themselves in their quest to develop their work. Zhang’s solo show at the Today Art Museum in Beijing demonstrates a development of his signature stylistic forms into a space which may energise those forms.

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Seth Siegelaub

Seth Siegelaub: It was my lack of economic means and l’air du temps which created the relationship that existed between the kinds of shows I did and the artists with whom I was involved. It was an attempt to get away from the gallery because my feeling at the time, as it is now in the case of publishing, is that a space becomes sacralised. The economics of the situation is such that you need to fill a space with eight or ten shows a year, and it is inconceivable that you can do that and remain interested in all of the work you show. You didn’t run a gallery, the gallery ran you – it was just another form of alienated work experience. The gallery came to determine the art to the extent that painters would paint paintings to fit the walls of their dealer.*

  • Buren, Daniel and Siegelaub, Seth (1988/89). May 68 and all that. Interviewed by: Claura, Michel and Dusinberre, Deke. In Bickers, Patricia and Wilson, Andrew, eds. Talking Art: Interviews with artists since 1976. London: Ridinghouse 2007, p.298.

Marlene Dumas: Gesture and Eroticism

My work is about the body. My figures are never engaged in dramatic physical battles, it’s about the little gestures between bodies…The imaginary interests me. Eroticism is when something hasn’t yet happened…»

Meyer Schapiro and the cultural contradiction of Abstract Art

Time for a meaty quote about art, I think:

Paintings and sculptures, Schapiro pointed out, were ‘the last hand-made personal objects’ within a social order dominated by the division of labour. In a world in which the life of most individuals was subordinate to unsatisfying practical activity, ‘the object of art is, therefore, more passionately than ever before, the occasion of spontaneous or intense feeling’. Abstract art met this need best, because it refused ‘communication’ in a world in which communcation had been utterly instrumentalised and reduced to a notion of the most efficient stimulus to produce a given response. More than any other art, it corresponded to ‘the pathos of the reduction or fragility of the self within a culture that has become increasingly organized through industry, economy and the state’. Although it had no specific political message, abstract painting was the ‘domain of culture in which contradiction between the professed ideals and the actuality [of our culture] is most obvious and often becomes tragic’.1,2

  1. HEMINGWAY, Andrew (2006), ‘Meyer Schapiro: Marxism, Science and Art’ in HEMINGWAY, Andrew ed., Marxism and Art History: From William Morris to the New Left, London: Pluto Press. p.142
  2. Quotes taken from SCHAPIRO, Meyer (1957), ‘Recent Abstract Painting’, in SCHAPIRO, Meyer (1978), Modern Art: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, New York: Braziller. pp.217–8, 222–3, 224.