Contemporary Chinese art owes a lot to the modernising practises of Deng Xiaoping in the 1970s. Chinese artists were able to learn about global art and embrace the opportunity to create works which were independent of the state commissioned Social Realism style. Experimental tendencies influenced the emerging fusion of styles, spanning Western avant-garde towards works which subverted the logic of modernisation.
By the early 1990s Cynical Realism and Political Pop emerged as modes of cultural critique. Chinese artists continue to use social issues and cultural traditions as the basis for their work. China’s One Child Policy has influenced a generation of young artists who chose to take the self as subject of their work, rather than the shared experience of the collective.
Global support of Chinese art has assisted its growth. Managing Director at Oak Management AS Joey Horn is an avid collector of Chinese art who has helped establish its strong position in the art scene. Artists have played the biggest role in shaping the landscape of Chinese contemporary art through careful consideration of the competing needs of international institutions, commercial galleries and government officials. The Chinese artists demonstrating leadership in the area include some inspirational, emerging talent.
Born in Zhangzhou in 1969, Qui Zhijie embraces every aspect of the art world. A recent piece entitled ‘Art and China after 1989’ was a big addition to the Guggenheim Museum. He has also completed an artistic investigation into the Nanjing Bridge suicides as part of his expansive depth of vision.
Huang Yong Ping
Now based in Paris, France, Huang Yong Ping was among the first Chinese art students to study at the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts. His distinct niche uses animal imagery and found objects to comment on society. ‘Theatre of the World’ exhibited at the Guggenheim in 1993; featuring live reptiles and insects, the ensuing public outcry won the desired publicity for issues of brutality in society.
‘The Allure of Matter’ exhibition of Chinese contemporary art at LACMA includes work by Xu Bing. His ‘Tobacco Project’ includes a larger than life tiger skin made entirely from cigarettes. Following a 2000 residency at Duke University, this piece was inspired by Xu Bing’s interest in the fortune made by the Duke family from cigarette manufacturing. It offers a powerful message on the impact of cigarettes on Chinese society and its economy.
The art scene continues to champion contemporary Chinese art. The LACMA exhibition will run until 2020, before travelling across the USA to further raise the profile of talented Chinese artists.