12 Installation view of “Big Face – New Works by Yue Minjun”

Sponsored by the Art Museum of Nanjing University of the Arts, in collaboration with Nanjing Golden Eagle Life Center, “Big Face – New Works by Yue Minjun” was unveiled at the Art Museum of Nanjing University of the Arts on April 8, 2014. With Li Xiaoshan as the curator, the exhibition showcases 33 works covering all categories of painting by Yue Minjun from 2005 through to 2013, among which the “Skin Series”, “Re-Portrait Series”, “Overlapping Series”, “Maze Series” are shown for the first time in Mainland China.

At 14:30, the press conference and exhibition opening were held at the lecture hall of the Art Museum of Nanjing University of the Arts, Liu Weidong, Vice President of Nanjing University of the Arts, Michael Kahn-Ackermann, former Head of Goethe Institute and famous sinologist, art critic Lv Peng, Li Xiaoshan, the curator and Director of the Art Museum of Nanjing University of the Arts attended the conference.

Liu Weidong addressed the meeting: Yue Minjun is one of the most representative artists among all the contemporary Chinese painters, and his work is a distinct symbol of the era.

A work referred to as contemporary cannot be attributed as such when the artist lives in the contemporary world as it should be endowed with its own ideas and standards. In the past, perhaps as long as it challenged the tradition and authority, it could be defined as contemporary, but now it needed a mature thought, diverse language and distinct view. He thought Yue Minjun’s exhibition was a good opportunity to study, to provide rich spiritual food for the faculty and students of the Nanjing University of the Arts.

Ackermann recalled his acquaintance and communication with Yue Minjun, he never thought Yue could become a benchmark of Chinese contemporary art at that time, he believed that it was Yue’s personal progress and also the progress of the time. Lv Peng agreed with this, it was important that the work by Yue Minjun was openly on display at the academy today which is a shift from the original state of underground exhibitions, which revealed the victory of the spirit of freedom of the time. Lv Peng thought, in the development of art history, art symbols were very important, it was impossible to pursue the artistic footprints without a symbol, which was extracted by Yue Minjun in the process of shaping images.

“Big giggling face” is a classic pattern of Yue Minjun, which is also on display at the exhibition, such as “Journey to the West”, as well as the sculpture of the image, it is worth mentioning that there are four new series of works debuting in Mainland China, among which “Skin Series”, “Re-Portrait Series”, and “Overlapping Series”, with lines, colors, dislocation of structure, graffiti to destruct and reconstruct the images of the “big face”, in these works we can also see some familiar faces such as Li Xianting, Wang Guangyi. “Maze Series” integrates the aesthetic elements such as Chinese traditional landscape, figures, flowers and birds into the thinking of contemporary culture,

Building a maze of art using the form like building a garden, to express Yue Minjun’s thinking that transforms from contemporary to tradition.

For the works of this exhibition, Yue Minjun said humbly that it was just the result of entertaining foolish ideas, he hoped to become a contradicted and complicated individual rather than a linear progressing artist. He also hoped the audiences would propose more suggestions during the visit to the exhibition, to help him to continue to be mad, and “entertaining foolish ideas”. Going along with the exhibition there was a modern dance called “Smile of the body – Story of Red Face People”, specially tailored according to the exhibition by the “North River Body Theater”, composed by the teachers and students who majored in environmental choreography from the Nanjing University of the Arts, showing the audience the process of a “smiling face” starting from internally saving to externally expanding, using the language of dance to explain the cultural meaning of the big smiling face, casting beautiful reflections over each other in the exhibition.

The Art Museum of Nanjing University of the Arts focuses on the public educational function of the museum of the academy, as Director Li Xiaoshan said at the press conference, the exhibition of the museum focused on bringing the ongoing, novel, avant-garde and pioneering artistic practice which was like the production of knowledge to a school classroom and public education. After the end of the press conference, it immediately launched the “Artist and Time – Artistic Dialogue with Yue Minjun”, where guests Liu Weidong, Ackermann, Lv Peng, Yue Minjun, Li Xiaoshan, Zhang Peili, Lu Hong, Du Xiyun, Ji Shaofeng, Jin Weihong together with the teachers and students from the Nanjing University of the Arts discussed contemporary art and college education, contemporary art and tradition, the development of Chinese contemporary art in the world and other related topics. On the morning of April 9, Yue Minjun served as a tutor and communicated with the faculty and students regarding artistic experience and life in the classes of the Departments of Printmaking and Sculpture at the Nanjing University of the Arts.

The exhibition and activities are open to the public, and the exhibition will continue to May 6.

Courtesy of the artist and the Art Museum of the Nanjing University of the Arts, text by Zhang Wenzhi, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO.


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