This time in 72 hours, I’ll be thousands of feet in the air above the clouds on a plane from the UK/Dubai en route to Hong Kong and 25 days in Asia – Hong Kong, Taipei, Tainan, Shanghai and Beijing (and other places in between). Before I step up a gear to a China pace of life, I thought I’d continue my series of blog post on exhibitions of Chinese contemporary art on show in the UK. The coming Autumn again brings emerging to established artists, and local to global exhibitions, projects and events…mostly photographic, digital and video arts. As always, if I’ve missed any, let me know…or if you want to find out more, get in contact…
- GORDON CHEUNG: THE ABYSS STARES BACK – Edel Assanti, London
9 October – 21 November 2015
Gordon Cheung’s second solo exhibition at Edel Assanti examines the relationship between civilisation and conquest. Espousing a bird’s-eye view of the present historical moment, Cheung maps our geopolitical landscape within the context of a broader human story, invoking a causal chain that dates back to the dawn of civilisation. The landscapes of Cheung’s works are populated by references that are both generic and specific, apparitions of a digital age in which reality is experienced as much through technological mediation as first-hand. These paintings begin life as digital sketches, aggregating a mass of found internet imagery in a multilayered, simulated landscape resembling a toxic hyper-reality. Degenerative city scenes and noxious deserts, familiar from dystopic science fiction, here form the backdrop against which the drama of the rise and fall of empires is enacted. ‘The Abyss Stares Back’ meditates on the 21st century collective realisation that the western neoliberal model is in fact not, as posited by Francis Fukuyama at the end of the Cold War, “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution.” However, the mythological prism through which Cheung processes subject matter compels us to view his case studies in the context of historical precedent – part of a recurring cycle in which every empire is destined to fall, to be replaced by another. Indeed, apparitions of Western decadence linger in the form of trophy heads and Dutch still life motifs; the former is employed as an allegory for conquest, the latter a recurring them in Cheung’s practice, referencing the tulip bubble whose collapse brought an end to the Dutch Golden Age.
- Gordon Cheung: Breaking Tulips – Alan Cristea Gallery, London
11 September – 6 October 2015, opening 10 September, 6-7.30 pm
Breaking Tulips, an exhibition of new work by Gordon Cheung,provides an historical reflection of contemporary culture through the exploration of the Dutch Golden Age, a period of extraordinary wealth and power in 16th- and 17th- century Holland. ‘Tulipmania’ was the world’s first recorded major financial crash, and is also the title of a series of twelve hand painted prints by Cheung. Tulipmania 1 – 12will be shown alongside a number of other works including prints based on Dutch 17th-century still lifes from the Rijksmuseum, together forming an exciting body of work which seeks to highlight that economic bubbles are not a modern-day phenomenon.
‘Ai Weiwei’ – Royal Academy of Arts, London
19 September – 13 December 2015
Curated in collaboration with Ai Weiwei from his studio in Beijing, the RA will present some of his most important works from the time he returned to China from the US in 1993 right up to present day. Among new works created specifically for our galleries and courtyard will be a number of large-scale installations, as well as works showcasing everything from marble and steel to tea and glass. With typical boldness, the chosen works will explore a multitude of challenging themes, drawing on his own experience to comment on creative freedom, censorship and human rights, as well as examining contemporary Chinese art and society.
‘NEW CHINA / NEW ART: Contemporary Video From Shanghai And Hangzhou’ – Lakeside Arts, Nottingham
5 September – 1 November 2015
Since the making of China’s first video artwork in Hangzhou in 1988, neighbouring metropolises Shanghai and Hangzhou have become major centres for the development of video art in China. Both cities have historically cosmopolitan cultures within which thriving contemporary art communities make innovative use of a range of electronic media. Some of China’s most notable video artists have been trained and have established careers in and between the two cities. This exhibition showcases a diverse range of video works by the latest generation of artists to emerge from Shanghai and Hangzhou. All of the works involve encounters between internationally established approaches to art-making and local forms of cultural thinking and practice. Some evoke atmospheres of anxiety and unease; others, beauty and meditative stillness. Many also display a wry sense of humour, playfulness and desire to provoke, characteristic of the generation of artists born in China after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. The exhibition is complemented by examples of graphic work by artist/designer Pan Jianfeng showing in the Angear Visitor Centre.
- ‘RoCH Fans & Legends’ by Susan Pui San Lok – QUAD, Derby
18 September – 15 November 2015
susan pui san lok premieres a new body of work titled RoCH Fans & Legends, commissioned by QUAD and the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CfCCA), in partnership with Animate Projects and the University of Salford. Featuring single and multi-channel moving image works for gallery and online, RoCH draws on fan uploads of numerous adaptations of The Condor Trilogy (1957-61), a classic ‘new wuxia’ epic by Louis Cha aka Jin Yong, to explore some of its recurring tropes and translations – its fantasies, landscapes and archetypes, as well as its ‘poor’ and ‘pidgin’ iterations, in diasporic popular culture.
- Liu Bolin ‘The Hacker Series’ – MD Gallery London
5 – 27 September 2015, opening 3 September 2015, 6-8pm
Liu Bolin, the internationally famous artist, whose the nickname is “the invisible man”, shows a new series of unpublished photographs. MD Gallery is pleased to announce Liu Bolin’s solo exhibition with a new series of work: “THE HACKER SERIES”. As the artist shares “in my latest solo show I explore what, in an era of intense virtualization, remains real. Is what we see really what we get?” For this series Liu Bolin has hacked institutional websites where some images have been changed. He has taken away the original image to replace it with one of his. Barely visible the artist hides in those pictures. The only thing one can see is the light in his hand. It is a light he tries to shed on reality.
- BOTH SIDES NOW: IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES, IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES? – CFCCA, Manchester
25 September – 6 December 2015, opening 24 September 2015, 6-8pm
Artists’ film and video works from the UK, China and Hong Kong spanning a quarter century will be presented in a new exhibition that seeks to draw comparisons between the identity and culture of China and the UK. Part of a six-month programme of screenings, exhibitions and residencies involving 15 arts organisations in the UK, China and Hong Kong. Moving image pieces by artists working in China & Hong Kong, including Birdy Chu, Lu Yang, Wong Ping, Ellen Pau and Map Office, will be exhibited alongside work by UK filmmakers David Blandy, Lucy Clout, Ben Rivers, Daniel Shanken and Rachel Maclean.
- British & European Receptions of China, 17th-21st Centuries: Symposium & Exhibition – Project Space Plus, University of Lincoln
22 September – 2 October 2015
This September the University of Lincoln’s School of History & Heritage is holding an exhibition and symposium titled, British & European Receptions of China, 17th-21st Centuries. This exhibition includes 17th-century books about China from the Wren Library, Lincoln Cathedral, and chinoiserie chairs, lamps, a leather screen, and samples of chinoiserie wallpaper from the Queen Mother’s State Apartment at Kensington Palace. The exhibit also features artefacts of the tea trade, as well as 20th-century replicas of the famous Chinese terracotta soldiers.
- Michael Wood: The Story of China – British Library, London
Friday 23 October 2015, 6.30pm – 8pm
Historian and broadcaster Michael Wood introduces some of the themes of his new BBC series The Story of China and reflects on the British Library display Beyond Paper: 3000 Years of Chinese Writing. The series shows how Chinese civilisation developed, telling the story of the rulers, the poets and philosophers and the ordinary men and women who defined the path to modern China.
- Heman Chong – Overview, Fundamentals, Performance, Transactions – Wilkinson Gallery, London
3 September – 4 October 2015, opening 2 September, 6-8pm
Wilkinson Gallery is pleased to announce Overview, Fundamentals, Performance, Transactions, the second exhibition by Singaporean artist Heman Chong at Wilkinson Gallery. Located at the intersection between image, performance, situation and writing, Chong’s work continuously interrogates the many functions of the production of narratives in our everyday lives. This exhibition, which spans across the two floors in the gallery, contains a selection of work produced in the last six years. This allows for a subjective map of Chong’s work to surface, allowing a way to unpack the multiple connections between different works produced in various different contexts.