Friday, May 21, 2010

MinSheng Bank Art Museum Reviews for this week by Christina Xiong

Title of Exhibition: 30 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art at the
MinSheng Art Museum, Shanghai

Artists (more than 80 artists) Include:  Shi Chong, Wang Chuan, Zhou
Chunya, Cheng Conglin, Chen Danqing, Fei Dawei, Shao Dazhen, Peng De,
Fan Dian, Jia Fangzhou, Yang Feiyun, Chao Ge, WEI Guangqing, Wang
Guangyi, Hou Hanru, Lu Hong, Yu Hong, Wang Huangsheng, Wu Hung, Xu
Jiang, Geng Jianyi, Yin Jinan, Zhao Li, Fang Lijun, Wang Lin, Meng
Luding, Zhong Ming, Gao Minglu, Yue Minjun, Lv Peng, Wen Pulin, Zhu
Qingsheng, Shu Qun, Li Shan, Jin Shangyi, Gao Shiming, Yin Shuangxi,
Liao Wen, Li Xianting, Liu Xiaochun, Liu Xiaodong, Zhang Xiaogang, Li
Xiaoshan, Ai Xuan, Mao Xuhui, Ding Yi, Yi Ying, YU Youhan, Yin
Zhaoyang, Luo Zhongli, Huang Zhuan

The name of this exhibition seems to speak for itself, featuring a
collection and "coming together" of various Chinese Contemporary Art
ever since 1979. Before visiting the exhibition, I had just returned
from a trip to the YunNan province, known for its diversity and
presence of over 25 ethnic minorities. During our stay in Shangri-La,
we had our first encounter with a predominant Tibetan population, an
experience that certainly resonates with Chen Danqing's Tibetan
series. As a leading realist painter, Chen is known for contributing
largely to breaking away from authority. Despite the general Han
Chinese perception of ethnic minorities as inferior, Chen portrayed
them as a "dignified" group, determined to follow their own values and
principles. This is very typical of what I saw in Shangri-La. Many of
these Tibetans still led pastoral lives, farming and herding yak and
yet, they were perfectly satisfied with their conditions. Moreover, as
our Tibetan driver put it, they desired and demanded every hint of
respect, a sign of equality and offer of friendship. Thus, the truth,
often hidden and difficult to attain, is very much apparent in Chen's
works, from two men in town to a couple carrying a child and striding
(Tibet 1982) forward.  In reality, this concept of expressing the
feelings of the common people, whether it be depression during
political strife, excitement over a new age or uncertainty over
materialism, correlates with the museum's aim of showing China's
history through different perspectives.

Another piece that I liked at the MinSheng Art Museum was Fang Lijun's
1998 work, 98.10.1, which once again included the same bald men with
ambiguous expressions. Fang Lijun is a cynical realist and often, his
works consist of an underlying satire and mockery. However, I'm used
to seeing more scrunched up faces and more surprised by his use of
vibrant colors and falling flowers. As you can see in the picture I
took, the faces, looking up into the sky, express more amazement,
sudden realization and thought. It reminds me of rural farmers who,
having not felt a drop of rain in years, is ironically taken aback by
the fortunate turn of events. Once again, this painting is also very
"timely" in that it symbolizes wonder, and the surprising optimism
towards China's future at the turn of the century.

No comments: