Chinese Contemporary Art on Show (UK): May/June 2014

I have so much to tell you readers…so much to update you on…so much to say…but until then (and that honesty of words) I have a huge list of more factual and informative posts and words to share with you, the first being an up-to-date list of exhibitions of Chinese Contemporary Art on Show in the UK over the next month or so. Previously, I have done one for January 2014 (I can’t believe it’s May already) and I thought it was time I got back into the routine of writing and blogging, hopefully nearly everyday…let’s make it happen wordgirl. Time to focus. So here is a list of exhibitions that are either on show now, or forthcoming here, in the UK. As I said before…let me know if you’re going and we can start a conversation or even go together:

1. Chinese Visual Festival, Kings College London
Opens Wednesday 7 May 2014, 5.30pm, a programme of events happening until 18 May 2014

Image courtesy of the Chinese Visual Festival

From visual arts to films, this festival is growing in strength and character where this year they are hosting ‘The Gallery’, a multi-media, experimental artistic project, initiated by Chinese artist Wang Xin. This new curatorial model provides the site of an exhibition present with basic equipment for invited individual artists or artist groups to take up the space and conduct immediate DIY art projects in a given period of time, which is no more than five hours. This project is placed alongside a comprehensive film programme including modern independent Chinese language cinema by Jia Zhangke and Pema Tseden.

2. Hungry Still, QUAD, Derby
16 March – 18 May 2014

Hungry Still QUAD Derby Slideluck
Image courtesy of Slideluck

This group exhibition of photography is co-curated by Slideluck London Maria Teresa Salvati, Federica Chiocchetti and QUAD/FORMAT Louise Clements, with an accompanying publication, showcasing twenty-four of the best international photographers presenting multimedia photo stories featuring incredible images and narratives from all over the world including Shanghai’s Fan Shi San (who I am currently showing) and the UK’s Ian Teh. 

3. Chen Wei: Slumber Song, Ben Brown Fine Arts, London
30 April – 5 June 2014

Chen Wei
‘Rental Service’ (2009) by Chen Wei. Archival inkjet print. 100 x 120 cm; (39 3/8 x 47 1/4 in.) Edition of 6 + 1 AP, image courtesy of Ben Brown Fine Arts

‘Slumber Song’ is the first solo exhibition in the UK of contemporary Chinese photographer Chen Wei. He is currently living and working in Beijing where the spirit of his work resonates with a new generation of emerging Chinese artists using photography as an instrument to capture human encounters with a rapidly developing China. Distinct from their “New Wave” predecessors who place political and social criticism at the core of their artistic message, Chen Wei and his contemporaries focus on intellectual freedoms and the individual’s place in modern China. Chen Wei’s photographs are visually enigmatic, characterised by uncompromising technical virtuosity and the elaborate scenes he creates.  

4. Qin Yuhai: Ebb and Flow, Saatchi Gallery, London
11 – 15 June 2014

Image courtesy of ACTIVE Anglo Chinese Communications

This innovative photographic exhibition by renowned Chinese photographer, Mr Qin Yuhai, is debuting at Saatchi Gallery. Presented by Fuhai Culture Development Ltd, an organisation engaged in art and culture based in the centre of Beijing, the exhibition features a world exclusive of new studies of water taken from the Chinese landscape over a period of many years. All the images are based on Qin Yuhai’s long engagement and relationship with Mount Yuntai in Central China’s Henan Province. The photographs, taken with a 10 x 8 camera, are the result of years of learning and understanding how best to represent the essence of water. At the same time, they are an exploration of the nature and language of photography.

5. Jacky Tsai: Eastern Orbit, Scream, London
16 May – 20 June 2014

Jackie Tsai
‘Long Live Socialism’ (2014) by Jacky Tsai. Lacquer Carving on Wood Panel. 123.5 x 123.5 x 7cm (48.6 x 48.6 x 2.8″). Image courtesy of Scream Fine Art

The first solo exhibition by Chinese artist Jacky Tsai who has become known iconically for the skull design as part of Alexander McQueen’s designs that has captured public consciousness. His work is constantly evolving and re-inventing through a hybrid practice encompassing a broad range of imagery, techniques and media. Jacky alludes himself as ‘a collage artist’ revealing how “my extremely mixed background definitely helped me to produce art differently”. Titled Eastern Orbit Tsai’s solo exhibition addresses the cultural exchange between Asia and the West and the artist aspires to revolutionise contemporary Chinese art and combine Chinese craft and skill with Western Pop imagery.

6. Ai Weiwei, Lisson Gallery, London
16 May – 16 July 2014

'Surveillance Camera' (2010) by Ai Weiwei. Marble. 39.2 x 39.8 x 19 cm
‘Surveillance Camera’ (2010) by Ai Weiwei. Marble. 39.2 x 39.8 x 19 cm

This major survey show of work by Ai Weiwei will show a broad selection of key works from the past six years as agreed with the artist at the beginning of 2011. Highlights of the 13 works in the exhibition include ‘Colored Vases’ (2010, 2009), groupings of Han Dynasty pots (from 200DC-220AD) covered in industrial paint; ‘Surveillance Camera’ (2010), the artist memorialises the clunky apparatus of CCTV surveillance by replicating it in marble, medium of monuments and gravestones; ‘Chang’an Boulevard’ (2004) which records  Beijing’s central boulevard – the site of military processions and a location associated with the Tian’anmen Square protests of 1989 – at a sequence of measured distances along its forty-five kilometre length from east to west.

7. The Voice Currency – Towards a New Exchange System/Making Community – Not the map nor the Territory, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA), Manchester
11 April – 1 June 2014

Image courtesy of Concrete Flux, Beijing

‘The Voice Currency – towards a new exchange system’ is an innovative exhibition with a focus on new engagement systems in contemporary art and design. This will be the very first show of its kind, looking at a new, generative method of exhibition making. Curated by CFCCA’s Ying Tan, the exhibition is not conceived as a static display of finished products, but rather uses the work of two associate curators – Beatrice Leanza (Creative Director, Beijing Design Week) and Pan Jianfeng (founder of SHtype, Shanghai), to launch the gallery as a living, breathing lab. This show is set alongside ‘Making Community – not the map nor the territory’curated by Beatrice Leanza, showcasing a selection on ongoing initiatives and interdisciplinary practices in the field of design in China.

8. Zhang Huan: Spring Poppy Fields, Pace London
25 April – 31 May 2014

Image courtesy of Pace London
Image courtesy of Pace London

‘Spring Poppy Fields’ features fourteen vividly coloured, oil on linen paintings that have occupied the artist’s practice between 2011 and 2014. Alluding to Buddhist masks and iconography, the series is inspired by Zhang Huan’s extensive travel to Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and India.

9. Chinese Independent Film Festival (CIFF), Newcastle and Nottingham
12 – 15 May 2014 (Newcastle)
16 – 18 May 2014 (Nottingham)

Image courtesy of CIFF
Image courtesy of CIFF

One of the longest-running indie film festivals in China. With its commitment to independent thinking and freedom of expression, the CIFF serves as the most important platform for showcasing Chinese indie films in China. The four-day event in Newcastle (then going onto Newcastle) celebrates its tenth anniversary and will feature retrospective screenings of CIFF award-winning films, an archival exhibition on the history of the CIFF, a workshop – Film Festivals in Focus which brings together the directors of CIFF and Edinburgh International Film Festival and a group of important scholars in the field, and a master-class with female documentary filmmaker Feng Yan. 

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