Dialogues with different nature(s)…

…as everyone in the world seems to be entwined in conversation or exchange with something at the moment, rather than someone. I only say this as two UK exhibitions of contemporary Chinese art have come to light, which will be on show this year…both in “dialogue” with different things. The first is the Huang Yong Ping exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary (I’ve heard its curated by Abi Spinks but I could be wrong) opening on the 16th April 2011. Huang Yong Ping is very familiar with Western contexts having lived in Paris (France) since the late 1980s, therefore you can see how his work, as Nottingham Contemporary states, ‘can be read as a commentary on the hybridization of cultural identities under accelerating globalization.’ A bit like my research. I particularly like one of his early artworks entitled ‘The History of Chinese Painting and the History of Modern Western Art Washed in the Washing Machine for Two Minutes’, as  I see it as (perhaps) a visual parody of my future PhD thesis. I know Eliza Gluckman similarly referenced this piece as part of her MA thesis. It just seems apt somehow as it explicitly references the Western ideals of the ready-made by Marcel Duchamp, amongst other things. There’s a rather good essay on the Walker Art Center website here about his work and the development of contemporary Chinese art from his viewpoint. I’m interested to see how the show at Nottingham Contemporary will be conceptualised and curated. They haven’t really given away that much information so far, so I’m in the process of contacting the necessary people there to see if I can shadow the process to perhaps use it as a point of reference within my research. I wonder if the Director Alex Farquharson has anything to do with the curatorial outputs of the exhibition?

The other UK exhibition, includes the work of Shanghai artist Hu Yun as part of the exhibition ‘Images of Nature’ on display at the Natural History Museum (London, UK)  opening 21st January 2011 (which I’ve realised is today). The works on show are a result of a recently completed a residency at Gasworks (London, UK) and he ‘aims to record everyday life and different natural phenomena by interacting with his immediate surroundings, investigating – often humorously – the possibilities of establishing a dialogue with nature.’ The works are discreet, obscurely witty, perfectly formed and fabricated, with finite detailing, all in a range of media from drawing and watercolours, to “live” installation. I must say, I do wonder where these exhibitions spring up from. Even Robin Peckham on Twitter wondered how they are ‘pulling in such a strong and relatively under-the-radar set of Chinese artists’, and I do too. It might be worth me trying to contact the curator at Gasworks to find out more whilst I keep track of what else might arise out there in the UK-international art scene.

Another exhibition I wouldn’t mind seeing but doubt I’ll get the chance is ‘When Worlds Collide’ by Wang Qingsong at the International Center of Photography in New York (in association with Pekin Fine Arts in Beijing). I used to love going there when I lived in NYC and can remember seeing a fantastic show called ‘Heavy Light: Recent Photography and Video from Japan’. Wang’s exhibition opens today and its the first solo show of his work in the US conveying ‘an ironic vision of 21st-century China’s encounter with global consumer culture.’ This could by some notion link to Huang Yong Ping‘s work. Tonight, Wang is talking further about his concepts and contexts with curator of the ICP Christopher Phillips on the theme of ‘The Culture of Contemporary Chinese Art’…it would have been interesting to see if he spoke of things other than consumer culture and to see Phillip’s view as a Westerner on contemporary Chinese art. I’ll find out if they are recording it. Anyway, they have put a rather nice downloadable catalogue on the website which is a good resource although I haven’t read its content yet.

Finally, whilst reading the brick of a magazine which fell through my letterbox this week, the ArtAsiaPacific Almanac 2011, usually a good indicator of whats happened during the past year, although I do feel it’s not quite as comprehensive as it could be, I was stunned by the increase in figures by 125,000 regarding students enrolled on art programs in China. Where are all these new creative minds going? If and how are they being nurtured in this “transcultural” art ecology? It just got me thinking. On that note I’ll leave you for the day…

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