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.