The Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) aims to bring contemporary Chinese art and visual culture to the UK, and is the leading organisation in this field. Based in Manchester, UK, the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art has operated for over 30 years, having previously been named The Chinese Arts Centre.
The CFCCA is located in Manchester’s iconic Market Buildings in the Northern Quarter on Thomas Street. The centre boasts two gallery spaces, an archive and library resource, events space, a shop and an on-site artist’s studio and residence. Through its events, exhibitions, residencies and research projects, the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art hopes to showcase the work of artists from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the diaspora, as well as question and better understand Chinese culture as a whole.
The history of the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art began in 1986 in the form of a festival that aimed to promote the work of Manchester’s Chinese community. In 1989 the Chinese Arts Centre registered as a charity and found a permanent residence on Charlotte Street – located in Manchester’s Chinatown. The aim of the Chinese Arts Centre was to educate the British public about contemporary Chinese visual culture and its first major exhibition, ‘Beyond the Chinese Takeaway’, was presented to the public in 1992.
In 2003 the Chinese Arts Centre moved to its current home on Thomas Street, into a purpose-built, RIBA award-winning building that incorporated Chinese architecture into the historic Victorian-era market building. In 2013, the Chinese Arts Centre changed its name to the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, and embarked on a partnership with the University of Salford Art Collection with the aim of creating a significant collection of contemporary Chinese art.
The CFCCA has played an important role in increasing the visibility of contemporary Chinese art in the UK through its exhibition and residency programmes. Artist residencies at the CFCCA have run since 2003, with the aim of supporting the work of artists, writers and researchers by offering a dedicated space in which to work. Residencies vary in length, from two weeks to three months, and conclude with a public exhibition in the studio, a talk or a performance piece; for more information on the residency programme, please refer to the embedded infographic.
There are many exceptional contemporary artists coming out of China and their work has found a large and appreciative audience, as well as many avid collectors including Joey Horn. Artist Bu Hua is known for creating digital animations, invented worlds and surreal storylines, with influences ranging from the traditional woodblock prints from Chinese culture to Japanese anime.
Cui Xiuwen creates provocative and contemporary artworks that document life in China. Xiuwen’s 2002 piece, ‘Lady’s Room’, used hidden camera footage to film the everyday goings-on of a Beijing nightclub, and ended in the first lawsuit for the contemporary Chinese art scene.
Dong Yuan is a student of Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts and a realist painter. Yuan combines her paintings of everyday objects from her home into large-scale installations, such as the 2008 work ‘Sketch of Family Belongings’ which was comprised of 186 separate canvases.
Gao Rong is a sculptor who uses the Shaanxi embroidery technique to create life-size versions of everyday objects. Rong studied at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, but was taught to embroider with the Shaanxi method by her grandmother; she has since created objects that range from a letterbox to a public bus stop.
Wang Zhibo studied traditional academic oil painting at the Chinese Academy of Art in Hangzhou. Zhibo uses these traditional Chinese painting techniques in stark contrast to her chosen subject matter – the dystopian contemporary spaces of modern life, such as shopping centres, public parks and hotel lobbies. Please refer to the embedded video for more up-and-coming female Chinese artists.