Another exhibition, pretty similar to the Stanford Show below is on at Otis College of Art + Design’s Ben Maltz Gallery. Regeneration: Contemporary Chinese Art from China and the US. The excellent art.blogging.la reviewed it not altogether favourably.
Regeneration: Contemporary Art from China and the US is a window into the progress of contemporary art in China, but only a few of the 26 artists on view at Otis’ Ben Maltz Gallery truly stand out with originality and impact.
Each artist has a very particular message that adds to a broad idea of what concerns Chinese artists today. But instead of complementing each other, these artists’ comments become a competition for attention. Though the exhibition presents a laundry list of informative challenges in contemporary Chinese art to consider, the impact of Zhang Huan’s My America (Hard to Acclimatize) was the only work that resonated.
Regeneration Review by Melissa Goldberg
Regeneration: Contemporary Art from China and the US is a window into the progress of contemporary art in China, but only a few of the 26 artists on view at Otis’Ben Maltz Gallery truly stand out with originality and impact.
The tradition of art making is not a new thing for China. But Chinese artists have become more verbose in the last 30 some years after the end of Mao’s communist regime. The show is a survey of 48 contemporary works by artists with foundations in China, specifically Beijing, Shanghai, and Gounghzhou. The exhibition is organized by Dan Mills and Xiaoze Xie—who is also an artist in the exhibition—and is on display at Ben Maltz through April 23. It was first shown at was Bucknell’s Samek Art Gallery in Pennsylvania.
Zhang Huan’s My America (Hard to Acclimatize), is dramatic and powerful. Nude Americans stand shoulder to shoulder on three tiers of scaffolding —except for one lady wearing hiking boots. The nude artist sits on a stool in the center of the scaffolding, completely exposed in the middle of this warehouse-like space. He is surrounded by bits of bread that, according to the wall text, have been thrown at him by the audience to symbolize the many times people assumed the artist homeless. Zhang Huan creates a palpable feeling of “otherness”, and the photograph captures the weight of his isolation.
Hong Hao’s Page 1999 from New World 1 and Page 2051 from New World 2 are clever silk screened maps with blatant comment on globalization and world economics—map scale is measured by “Microsoft”, “trap”is the signpost for Greenland, and various map key colors signify levels of economic success rather than more typical geographic interests like elevation or average rainfall. Hong has even meticulously represented a bound atlas adding the details of gold-edged pages.
Also, examining influences from geopolitics and international fusions is Wendy Gu’s United Nations-Temple of Exocitisms. A striking visual installation and the first piece to draw attention upon entering the gallery, Gu’s work uses weaved human hair to make delicate hanging curtains adorned by woven characters of no importance culled from Asian, Western, and Islamic texts. The curtains surround two sides of a table and chairs. The TV chairs (as her medium is described), halved and glued together with a TV screen substituted for a seat, merge typical furniture styles from France’s Louis XV (mid-18th century) and China’s Ming Dynasty (1368- 1644) eras. Gu’s work seems to ask: what would be different if France and China had a relationship throughout the centuries? If the continents were merged and languages combined?
Like Gu, many of the artists included in Regeneration use history to reinterpret the present. Ai Weiwei’s Table with Three Legs re-interprets classic furniture design from the Qing Dynasty to create an off-kilter table, YunFeiJi’s Picnic drawn on mulberry paper with mineral pigment creates an strange world that camouflages odd looking men, women, and cars amongst the trees, and Hong Lei’s After Song Dynasty Painting Quail and Autumn Chrysanthemum by Li Anzhong follows the landscape portraits that were traditional in China’s historical art of the Song Dynasty, but adds a unique circular frame and a dead and massacred quail to symbolize, according to the wall text, “glorified violence under the visible head of power”.
Xu Bing creates his own language in Computer Font Project that merges English and Catonese and thus, East and West by creating an original language; well-known graffiti artist Zhang Dali’s photographs are straight-forward economic comments—he features his tags on condemned buildings contrasted by the skyline of metropolitan Shanghai that dominates the backdrop; Hai Bo’s historical portraits catch groups of soldiers and sisters, then and now; Chen Shaoxiong’s video Anti-terror Variety, a blatant “what if”following September 11,considers the possibilities when a building can be as limber as Gumbi and avoid jet airliners aimed straight at them; Xiaoze Xie’s realistic paintings depict stacks of newspapers that comment on the media’s editorial habits.
Each artist has a very particular message that adds to a broad idea of what concerns Chinese artists today. But instead of complementing each other, these artists’comments become a competition for attention. Though the exhibition presents a laundry list of informative challenges in contemporary Chinese art to consider, the impact of Zhang Huan’s My America (Hard to Acclimatize) was the only work that resonated.