Disease under the Sun

Disease under the Sun
—On Hu Jun’s Series of New Life

Author: Luo Fei
Translator: Xu Yang

Author’s Note: Hu Jun’s atelier was on the upstairs room of my workplace, he often invites me passionately to go to his atelier to drink some tea and chat with him. I’m much moved by his enthusiasm and especially by his special countenance, so we became intimate friends soon. The short distance between us gives me convenience to observe his working state and makes me know more about his art.


Desire Landscape 6, oil painting

Hu Jun’s works can be divided by different topics into three stages: the first stage is the series of Lips from the year 2003 to 2006 which are a group of sexy and showy red lips. The second stage is the series of Desire Landscape from 2007 to 2009, this series are mainly works about the orange-red landscape of the city wrapped and permeated by a kind of liquid (the artist said his inspiration came from the semen), and there is a strong light from the outer space pierced through the mist. Watching these paintings you would got a feeling of eschatological spectacles. There was a small part of this series named Desire—Flow which were abstract paintings about the floating things withdrew from images. The third stage or topic is the series of New Life which started from 2006 and lasted till now. The initial paintings of this series are cartoon-like, depicting the lives of men and women. The figures in these paintings evolved from the artist’s self-portrait, they are of a jocular style and filled with philistine sentiment. The earlier works of Hu Jun were more or less influenced by the methodology of the “Cartoon Generation”, the figures in these earlier works have big heads and funny facial expression. The colors that he used were light, pure and pink. For the spirituality in this period, he was influenced by the Cynic Realism which advocates a joking attitude towards life.

From 2008 on, Hu Jun has experimented and developed a unique way of art not only in the style of the painting, but also in discourse and composition. In other words, the artist began to reflect sincerely on his works in the previous years and try to dig out the originality and express human beings’ appeal for the spiritual existence through his own life experience. He turned from a compassion for broken marriages in the contemporary society to the deep concerns over human’s despairing existence.

新生活9
New Life 9, Oil Painting

New Life

The original title for this series was Human·Nature. From the names of his work series, we can discern the artist’s continuous concern for the living condition of human being and his interest in the effect and expression of desire. There’s no doubt that New Life was a title of irony. As an artist born in the 1960s, although he was still a child in Culture Revolution, the discourse pattern of “New China” and “New Life” in the Revolutionist Idealism Period still imprinted much on his mind. “New” is the renunciation of the “Old” system, pattern or order which had a blind optimism about the future. However, the New Life we talk about here has detached itself from the blueprint of society and history and become the daily incident of men and women’s/husbands and wives’ psychological life.

In this series, men and women are not passionate first lovers; they had married and got their children. They repeatedly appeared in a boat which looks very soft and springy, the texture of the boats seem like sofas or mattress, and they are basically pink, warm grey, flesh-colored or black. The delineation of the boat benefits from the earlier series of the Lips, so there is also a vague feeling of flesh in these boats. The boats are floating on the surface of a boundless sea; the background is always very simple, sometimes sunrise, sometimes sunset, sometimes the vast clear sky. The colors used are light and replete, the sun was shinning brightly—those are the common scenes which appear repeatedly in these paintings. Photographic techniques such as staged photography and snap shot with a strong flashlight are commonly used in this series of works.

布面油画《新生活-11》
New life 11, oil painting

新生活14
New life 14, oil painting

Body and Marriage

In New Life -No.9, three members of a family are sitting on the boat, but they all look like the artist himself. This may be an extension of Hu Jun’s sense of humor in daily life and the exaggerating style derived from his cartoon period. The picture has a subtle dramatic feeling. The man and the women has lost tender and affection for each other, the naked man looks very tired and necks with his wife to seek for some comfort. However, the woman who dressed vulgarly doesn’t care the man’s feeling. Instead she is immersed in the connection with the outside world using her mobile phone and the sunglasses she wears conceal her indifference. The child dressed fashionably, plugged his ears with headphones and is totally steeped in his own world. In Hu Jun’s opinion, this is exactly the portrait of middle-aged man: career and family already been set up but the only found himself totally lost. He should know his fate decreed by Heaven at this age, yet he is still more confused, not knowing what he should seek for. The only thing left is an exhausted body and a much more indifferent and estranged family relationship. In New Life-No.11, the estrangement between the husband and wife appears to be more subtle and perceptible under the peaceful holy light of the setting sun. Both of them are naked and frank with each other, and with such slack bodies and portraits they are enjoying the mild breeze swaying over their faces. The stiff “gulf” between them reveals the irreconcilable feeling of estrangement.

Hu Jun has been continuously practicing realism in body portrait and he also goes out for scenery sketch frequently, these all endue him with strong capabilities in using color to shape body and space to form a delicate and vivacious picture. For him, typical Chinese contemporary art lacks depth and the aesthetic enjoyment which are shortcomings he tries to overcome. He tries to evoke a an aesthetic effect which embraces the wish to extol human bodies in the Renaissance period, so he made microscopic depictions on the bones, tendons, structures and the minor undulation of the skins of the body. In this way we can say that he was also influenced by Michelangelo, but the bodies in Hu Jun’s paintings are not as powerful as Michelangelo’s. Under the appearance of the delicate, strong and near perfect bodies was the broken essence of the despairing contemporary metropolitans. This was especially prominent in New Life-No.14 where Hu Jun used the composition pattern of Michelangelo’s The Mourning of Christ to express his sympathy for the married man. By referring to a masterpiece in art history, Hu Jun wants to intensify the self-consciousness of a sufferer in marriage. He wants to evoke people’s attention to the moments of failure and hurt in marriage by referring to a total failure pattern of selfless love just as Christ’s Crucifixion. However, the women who embrace Christ (men) is not the beautiful, tender mourning St. Maria (women) anymore, but rather a shrew who has just won complete victory and is coating her face with powder and paint. It seems that the artist has turned his pike toward the female sex. Women are neither beautiful vases that can add value to men nor tender, domestic and obedient housewives. On the contrary, they have become offensive and ferocious. In New Life-No.21, the woman was painted as an androgen-increased female chimpanzee with strong body and ferocious face. From this point it’s not hard to understand why some women are so surprised and angry when they look at Hu Jun’s paintings that they want to destroy them, and why some middle-aged man would be moved to cry and sigh that they are exactly the man in the picture.

新生活21
New Life 21

新生活23
New Life 23

Viewers’ emotions tend to be offended by an artwork’s apparent provocation and then they would form some misunderstanding about the artist and his works. So we need to follow and observe an artist for an enduring period and compare his/her works both transversely and longitudinally with other artists’ works in order to know the true intent of the artist. Sometimes even the artist himself can not be sure about his intents and need other people to sort them out from the numerous works by using their own life experiences, spiritual traits and cultural psychologies.

Just as what we observe in New Life-No.23, there is a body in the foreground of the boat under the glimmering of the early morning (the head does not appear in this painting.) He/She lays elegantly, the upper part of the body (breasts) looks like women’s body while the lower part looks like man. Such kind of cross-gender figure embodies a more neutral and conservative consideration compared with the aforesaid masculine-predisposed women. He/She was displayed and portrayed with a more classic aesthetic perspective. This seems to reveal the artist’s deeper consideration: the mixing gender identity (psychologically/physically) and the dislocated relationship (the individual’s relationship with the self/ the interrelationship between the couple) are fatal problems in marriage, although this kind of dislocation appears to be common and of no novelty.

Dislocation means that there should be some kind of appropriate relationship in which men are men and women are women, and that conjugal relationship should be based on loyalty, humility, restraint, tolerance, sincerity, responsibility, determination and happiness which are the important qualities in setting up a happy marriage. However, a mutual conquering and possessing relationship has subverted the original healthy conjugal relationship which makes people feel exhausted and despair over marriage.

But the artist does not care only for marriage problems (though there are very few artists in Chinese contemporary art who are concerned about marriage), for the artist did not play a role as a marriage consultant but rather as a guardian for people’s spiritual homeland and their patterns of life. As one of the most primeval and important relationships of human being, the symptoms of marriage has revealed the deeper problems of human per se, for the despair of something is not thorough despair, but the despair genuinely unfolded is the despair of human per se.

新生活19
New Life 19

新生活17
New Life 17

Despair

The little child playing cards to divine the future in New Life-No.22 and the child overlooking the faraway scene in New Life-No.23 all had some anxiety not suiting their age. In New Life-No.17 the man squirts a pile of dolls nervously with water-pistol, in New Life No.18 and No.19 the men are trying painfully to break loose, and in New Life-No.20 the man is licking his knees eagerly…

Apart from broken marriages, we can also see anxious babies, recreational invading behaviors and painful solitudes in this series. All these plain pictures show the artists’ attention to people’s universal perplexity, upset, restraint, despair and the need to be comforted. The dismembered and attacked dolls in the picture seem to imply the character’s broken dreams.


New Life 20

新生活16
New Life 16

All these characters are taking pictures in a photographical studio carefully lay out and decorated by Hu Jun. The artist hopes that the background would be aesthetic, the color would be bright and the posture would be comfortable. Under the bright sunlight, the air is so clear, the lake is so peaceful, the skin is so fair and white, the body so strong and healthy, but the human is so anxious! Do you think this was disharmonious? Do you think these people are mawkish and blot on the landscape? Why should the artist display the weakness of man in such an intensive way?

The characters’ pain and despair is set off by the aesthetic and peaceful scenes, just as the smoke from the Auschwitz death-camp’s cremator had been set off by the clear vast sky. The internal sufferings of human being are more hidden and profound than the sufferings in history or society. As the head of a family, the bearer of responsibilities, the guide of belief, man has retreated to a situation of self-entertainment, self-pity, self-abasement and self-lost. And this forebodes that the last defense line of social ethnic and belief is collapsing, which is the major problem of contemporary society.

Existentialism philosopher Kierkegaard once talked about despair in his work The Sickness onto Death and said that despair is a psychological disease of self, a misplaced relationship between man and himself. A misplaced relationship with God is the core mistake which determined that despair is a way of human existence.

But Kierkegaard also held that being able to despair is one of the qualifications that make us human, while existing in despair is the most unfortunate and mischievous thing. The universal situation is that we are not aware of our despair, which is one form of despair but the lowest level of it. Despair is like the sofa boat in New Life, it is a mattress for people to lie down and enjoy, entertain and play and then cut all their possibilities to fight against, it is a battlefield for people’s self-depletion and mutual-devour. Therefore the more one is aware of his despair, the stronger the qualification of people as a spiritual existence he would acquire. In Kierkegaard’s opinion, there is an ascendant gradient from existing in despair and existing within the relationship with despair.

Interestingly, those who admit frankly that he is in despair would be dialectically easier to be cured than those who do not admit or those who are not aware of his situation. This is one possibility for art to become a way of self-redemption though this option still has its limitedness. And the fact that the artist himself appeared as the protagonist in the pictures repeatedly also demonstrated his sincere wish to express his despair and his motivation to cure himself. Not only for middle-aged man but also for women and children, the artist’s expression will become a mirror in the cure activities for people in society to obtain both comfort and warning.

To be sure, as for the creative orientation, we can only discern Hu Jun’s experimentation on and discussion about the interrelationship between man to women (marriage) and man to himself (despair) which determines that this series of works are highly self-concerned and self-conscious. As to the experimentation on human’s perpetual existence and their struggle to get rid of the state of despair—as participant, witness and recipient, we have not got the answer yet. Although he compared the powerful beams of light from the outer space to the necessary capabilities to restraint human’s evil desire by using a grand narrative picture in his Desire Landscape series, how to transform them into the holy daily incidents in New Life and how to experience the moment of cure still needs a “confident leap” in order to enter into a more unfamiliar field in the composition schema.

After all, despair is the normality that we are more familiar with; cure and emancipation appear to be so strange and unfamiliar.

Finished at the forth day after the big earthquake of Japan, in Kunming
March, 13th, 2011

The Yunnanese Way

Guan Yuda and He Libin

The Yunnanese Way: The 2nd Dialogue of “Inscape On The Spot” Art Exhibition

Participants:
Guan Yuda (Curator, Art Critic, Professor of Art and Design College of Yunnan University),
Luo Fei (Gallery Director and Curator of TCG Nordica Gallery)
He Libin (Artist, Curator)
Lei Yan (Artist)
Li Youjie (Artist)

Time: 2009, May 17
Add: Kunming Dandi Coffee

Translated by: Wu Yuerong
Proofreaded by: Anders Gustafsson

Professor Guan Yuda (hereinafter referred to as Guan ):

“…modernity is actually the starting point for an inquiry into the relationship between man and nature, people and life itself. Modernity transformed the Western culture. It also saw the emergence of a civil society, and the transformation of people’s daily lives.

In fact, I see this happening in Yunnan as well, mainly through two important developments. One is the early ‘Shen Community’, and artists such as Mao Xuhui. Their landscape paintings was a way of escaping the mainstream ideology. According to the provisions of revolutionary realism, you could only paint peasants, soldiers and ideological motives. And if at that time you wanted to deviate from the mainstream, painting scenery was the best way. That way, you would not break the ideological taboos, but you could put your own consciousness into the art. This was the beginning of modernism and self-conscious art in Yunnan. Mao Xuhui were to bring in subjectivity; and this is modernity. This point is very important, because it is also the reason that he saw a kind of religious loneliness inside Gui Shan. I think this is the main sense of involvement, of ‘Inscape’. And this subjectivity is the most crucial point.”
But I think we should not exaggurate the fact that the experiments of “Kunming Impressionist School” was earlier than Mao Xuhui. Because almost all artists painted landscape in Yunnan at that time; that was a way of life. And many people still do. Secondly, Yunnan itself is far away from the political and cultural center. That’s why Ding Shaoguang, Jiang Tiefeng, and also Wang Xiaobo went to De Hong (note: a town close to the Burmese border). Through the closeness of nature they could escape the mainstream ideology. It is similar with today’s tourism. They came there either to escape the harm from the ideological and commercial capitalism, or to heal their wounds and seek consolation in the landscape. But I think this is a sociological phenomenon. The discussion of art history in terms of subjective consciousness or awakening, and to truly grasp the origins of the modern landscape, is the main point of interest here. Continue reading

Chinese Contemporary Art in a Transitional Era


Liu Bolin, Great Wall, 2010

Chinese Contemporary Art in a Transitional Era
For the exhibition of Chinese Contemporary Art –Identity and Transformation

Foreword

I felt a great pressure when I tried to write this essay. I’m sure that this pressure is common to anybody who attempts to characterize and describe Chinese contemporary art. None of us is able to define it with a couple of simple concepts or frameworks because of its rapid and stupendous evelopment. Even though we only want to talk about art, we can hardly grasp its complicated evelopment and the vast energy contained deep in its reality. The key point is that contemporary art is constantly growing. In addition, I still feel I lack sufficient accurate data and information to write anything like a definitive account. Thus, I can only contribute my own feelings about Chinese contemporary art, as seen From my own perspective.

Background

China, as a big country with a huge population, is undergoing an incredible change brought about by rapid economic development and internal investment. This seems to have given tremendous energy to Chinese contemporary art. Since 1993 when Chinese artists attended the 45th Venice Biennial for the first time, artists From this vast nation have participated frequently in some of the most important international art fairs and have developed into a remarkable group in the current worldwide art scene. All this was inconceivable for those who lived in the late 1980s.

Today, when we talk about Chinese contemporary art, we have to pay close attention to two characteristics. One is its interaction with social progress. How did it cultivate the freedom and significant individual consciousness in China during the course of modernization of China’s society? I will develop this point by reviewing the drama of Chinese art and the construction of an art community. The second characteristic we must note is the special role Chinese contemporary art has had during the course of globalization and the increased international attention China now receives. I am aware that these two points are not enough to describe all details of Chinese contemporary art; however, they offer two aspects that can lead to a greater understanding.

Arousal of individual consciousness

Before the later eighties, China was still suffering From poor material supplies, decadent mental amusement and insufficient knowledge resulting From the chaos caused by war and long-time political campaigns. Artists of that time only acted as advertisers for political propaganda. Free creation was a luxury for them. They were not allowed to have their own ideas; instead they had to follow the national will. The reforms, which started in 1979, opened the door of a closed nation and created new opportunities after the conflicts of the previous century. Along with the break-dancing that appeared on the streets, a modernism of thought started to be seen among young artists. Thereafter, the rise of a series of modern art groups and movements formed a conscious, or perhaps unconscious, departure From the restrictions of the past. This awakened the individual will and independent awareness in China for the first time. Throughout this time, which included the likes of ‘85 Thought’1 of the 1980s, ‘The New Generation’2 of the early 1990s, ‘The Cynical Realism’3 and the increasing use of new media and performance in the later 1990s, the one consistent factor has been that all the art movements and trends which have emerged look like fast-moving clouds driven by strong winds.

All of these trends have broken through the ideology of ‘greatness and unity’ and the aesthetic style of ‘red and bright’ which was promoted in the Cultural Revolution. They have stepped out of the psychological shadow, and have made a true move towards original thinking and an exploration of contemporary life in China. The 1980s can be regarded as an enlightening time for individual awareness of Chinese contemporary art and elementary experimentation in art styles. Some post-modern Western philosophical monographs were introduced into China during this period. These monographs became the idealistic support for artists and their desire for enlightened self-awareness. The key phrase of that era was ‘The Great Soul’. At the same time, poorly printed painting albums in the style of Western modernism started to spread silently among Chinese artists.

It is not very hard to imagine the uniform nature of the art scene at this time and the tremendous potential energy behind it, which was desperately trying to burst out as things gradually opened up. This potential energy was completely released in the late 90s. Artists changed their focus From national thinking to individual experience, From revolutionary aesthetics to daily aesthetics. Their mission also turned From carrying forward truth, kindness and beauty to addressing social problems, From singing the praise of political figures to gazing intently at ordinary people, From the ‘Public Square’ to the home, From a political event to an unintended yawn, From the vague and general cultural saying to a practical exploration of the possibilities of varied media.

Today, when we review the history of the past twenty years, we find that the spirit and ideas of art have developed From national ideology to individual experience, then to an illustration of styles, then to the searching for different media and materials, and this has mirrored the rapid economic development. Contemporary Chinese art has an ambiguous relationship with official aesthetic ideas. The official mainstream ideas still focused on eulogizing ideologies such as ‘beauty’ and ‘harmony’. The reality in the mid and late 1990s was that the rapid economic development was causing the whole of society to experience amazing change. During this period, artists’ hearts were stricken by a dramatic rise in materialism, a deficiency in human spirit, a demise of morality and a collapse of belief.

All of this created a sense of anxiety amongst intellectuals and artists, which was clearly reflected in the work created during this time. The spirituality of Chinese classical art came From a poetic pastoral mood; however, the spirituality of Chinese contemporary art is rooted in the anxiety of real life. This situation can be understood as a permanent conflict between the artist and reality. Chinese contemporary art has converted an evasive spirit of classical art into a worldly spirit of the present age, and in doing so has risked danger on the “edge of reality”. Reality is always an aggressive force behind us. It moves artists to step down into the boggy marsh of simplistic reality From the plateau of super-organic thinking and virgin style.
The art historian Lu Peng once said: “The development of art history of this century was introduced by ‘thought’, ‘-ism’, ‘political event’, ‘governmental paper’, ‘instruction’, or ‘ideology’, but broke away From the matter of style.” In other words, the development of Chinese contemporary art in the past twenty years has totally rid itself of the impact of Cultural Revolution thinking. However, as a type of art formed From individual experience and experimenting with different media, Chinese contemporary art still can’t really break free From the morass of reality. It must respond to every occurrence in this land. It is not only a fact of China, but also a fact of Chinese artists.

This is one profile or collective portrait of Chinese contemporary art. The combination of repressed energy and the introduction of Western modernist thought, early in the opening of China, produced a freedom of thought and will among Chinese artists. ‘Vogue art’ and ‘pioneer art’ are common terms used to describe Chinese art From the late 1980s to the middle of the 1990s. Yet this did produce a definite distance From the general public.

Establishment of public surroundings

Since 1995, curators and artists have tended to utilize the neutral term ‘contemporary art’ to identify their exhibitions, instead of ‘pioneer art’ or ‘vogue art’. Of course, discussion and debate about modern art, post-modern art, pioneer art and contemporary art were also launched in the academies. Finally, we are mostly called or call ourselves exponents of ‘contemporary art’ or ‘Chinese new art’.

Since the mid 1990s, an artistic movement, which used new media and performance art, quickly developed, supported by the experimental spirit initiated From Chengdu, Kunming, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Beijing and Shanghai. Its impact has reached to the big and small cities, and continued to develop in the cities mentioned above. Thus the initial regional pattern of Chinese contemporary art was formed. Flourishing and active artistic movements emerged endlessly, but formal exhibition spaces were not sufficient, so most of these movements generally happened in an underground way. The audiences for exhibitions were limited to the artist circles. The official attitude toward contemporary art was suspicion while still watching From outside. This kind of attitude did not change until the Shanghai International Art Biennial in 2000. This event is now seen as the first official recognition of Chinese contemporary art.

In 2000, when LOFT, one of the very first art communities not only in Kunming, but also in China, was founded, only a few Chinese artists owned their independent studios. There was not enough normal exhibition space for young artists to exhibit their work, but the artistic thought and practice that had flourished really needed an exhibition platform to open them to a wider public. Then the artists started to construct and operate the art space themselves. In the beginning, it was a type of space in which artists could both create and show their work. Due to the characteristics of non-profit and cheap rent, this kind of space supported numerous young artists and experimental art groups and provided many opportunities to develop their practice. This type of art space suddenly emerged everywhere throughout China, resulting in endless experimental exhibitions. It was a rapidly growing stage for Chinese experimental art; the major methods for artistic exploration were performance, new media and installation. Until the establishment of the Chinese art market in 2005, more and more artists owned their self-supported art space and studio. But with new investment coming From increased national wealth and international capital, and with gallery practice now firmly established, extensive art communities grew up, in particular the Beijing 798 art space. With this change, the pattern for Chinese contemporary art communities was formed.

This new industry also drove economic development in other respects. It was a hard process, which began with nothing and integrated some other industries such as tourism, culture, real estate, recreation and food provision. After absorbing investment From many parties and various resources, these art communities contributed fresh blood and motivation to the Chinese contemporary art scene and the Chinese economy. On the other hand, this establishment also added some elements of simply following the latest fashion, entertainment and humanism into the city.

Nonetheless, students, art fans and “common people” all had a chance to enjoy art exhibitions in some art communities. They could learn more about Chinese contemporary art history of the past twenty years and international art trends. Press media, universities and civil organizations started to cooperate with art communities. This kind of cooperation even supported some social programs with marginal groups. Chinese art no longer praised itself as “emerging art”; it has entered into communities and become a necessary part of the city by keeping its characteristic of aesthetics and spiritual elite and criticism. Therefore, we can conclude that a city without any art communities is not a complete city.

Chinese contemporary art in an international perspective

As I have mentioned at the beginning, Chinese artists often appeared in many important international exhibitions since the 45th Venice Biennial in 1993. Some of them have been familiar with international Biennials, and Chinese contemporary art has become a notable force in the art world. There are many reasons that can be used to explain why Chinese contemporary art has won so much attention: it is in the largest developing country, this country maintains continuous high-speed economic development, the Olympic games are going to be held in the country, the price of Chinese art keeps rising, the label of Mao-style revolutionary romanticism, huge international investment, environmental issues, the so-called ‘workshop of the world’ among others. However, I want to summarize all of them into three main reasons. The first is people. Incredible hard work during the period From ‘85 thought’ to the middle of the 1990s enabled Chinese emerging art to accumulate a distinctive history and become noticeable. A number of excellent artists who are competent in using visual language have grown to be important components in international art. The second is geographical position. Since the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, China is the last experiment in international communism and holds a unique position in the world. The third is international climate. Cultural diversity increasingly became fashionable in international art criticism and exhibitions, and post-colonial theory also came to an end, creating many more opportunities for Chinese contemporary art.

Today, the prosperity of the Chinese artwork market, its increasing percentage of international auction sales, and the establishment of art communities are escalating China to greater heights and increased dynamism in international art. The holding of international art biennials and festivals symbolizes the fact that Chinese contemporary art is no longer a representative of an exotic culture appearing on the international stage; it is directly participating in the creation, construction and development of international art.

Chinese art poster(uddvalla)

Epilogue

The purpose of this description of the general characteristics of Chinese contemporary art and its development is to help generate a greater understanding of the art and artists of this country. It is by no means complete; this would not be possible with such a vast and fast-changing art scene. However, I highly recommend the exhibition of “Chinese Contemporary Art – Identity and Transformation”. This is a great opportunity to learn more and gain a greater understanding of Chinese contemporary art. The artists involved in this exhibition include some of those pioneers of the later 1980s as well as some other young and unsophisticated artists. The composition of artists in the exhibition is varied in age, use of media, and theme. Their art forms cover photography, painting, sculpture, video and Chinese ink painting. Their art themes relate to current social problems, individual life, the current situation of Chinese traditional culture and folk art, female art, body art, and simple exploration of style and materials. They are revealing their own mind and China’s reality in a sincere and intelligent way. With such abundant vigor, this exhibition can be seen as a living sample of Chinese contemporary art and well worth sharing with our Swedish friends.

Notes:

1 ‘85 Thought’ refers to a kind of Chinese artistic thought that arose in the mid 1980s. The young people of that time were not satisfied with the conservative art guidelines. They grew tired of Russian artistic patterns and some of the values of traditional culture. They tried to seek new elements From Western modern art and generated new artistic thinking in the whole country.

2 ‘The New Generation’ painting revealed an individual political narrative and a kind of hopeless counteractive political emotion which occurred in the political society of northern China in the early 90s. What the painting stated is a kind of mental description of vanity in a closed social space. The movement was committed to exploring the visual localization of realism, expressionism and modernism.

3 The ‘Cynical Realism’ has not yet acquired an exact definition. Commenting on this idea, Mr. Li Xianting, a Chinese art critic and an independent curator, once used the terms ‘rogue humor’ and ‘rascal culture’. When he analyzed the situation of these artists, Mr. Li said: ‘It is the artist’s sense of vacuity that led them to describe the familiar, tiresome, occasional, even ludicrous living scene with a self-mocking, ruffian, cynical and indifferent attitude. Finally it formed a kind of rogue but humorous art style.’

Luo Fei – curator at TCG Nordica Gallery and artist
July 1, 2007
In Liangyuan, Kunming

Chinese vision of this essay, 阅读本文中文原文

chinese art exhibition
Chinese art exhibition from TCG Nordica