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On the afternoon of September 9, 2016, hosted by 10 artists who graduated from CAFA, “Decathlon” opened at Rightview Art Museum. Artists that participate in this exhibition include: Fu Bin, Ju Ting, Li Zhan, Liu Kai, Sha Weichen, Sun Ziyao, Wang Bo, Xu Hongxiang, Zhang Yi, Zheng Jiang, they are of similar age, background, are heavily marked by the academy, and they have persisted in artistic creation, during the past decade after their graduation.

In the preface written by the curator “Mary Sue”, who explains the theme of the show as “‘Decathlon’ is a term used in Sports and it is a self-mockery in the Chinese contemporary art world. I believe that in the contemporary art stage, it is short of the pursuit of quality and classic structure which belongs to China, rather than a jovial attitude and camouflaged avant-garde. In comparison, the 10 artists, each with their own individual items, their works reflect the certainty and honesty, they persist in the artistic subject, to concentrate on the building of their height; never looking for enemies and attitude, seemingly never suffering the impact of networking or the tide of entertainment.”

Behind this solemn and sophisticated curatorial explanation, we can find that the curator “Mary Sue” is a person that does not exist. The journalist of CAFA ART INFO interviewed the artist Zheng Jiang who said that the essence of this exhibition is a joint exhibition curated by the 10 artists, “We do not have a fixed curator, and all ideas are jointly planned and discussed by the artists.” In order to realize this exhibition, the artists fabricate a curator called “Mary Sue”, and enthusiastically fabricated her nationality, resume, introduction, as well as the writing of the preface.

In regards the theme of “Decathlon”, the artist Sha Weichen said that, several participating artists determined a name after a discussion, “We all grew up in the big tree of CAFA, and now we come together to find common ground, it is harmonious but different. It features a total of more than 50 works, covering paintings, ink painting, sculpture, printmaking and installation. It is worth mentioning that, since graduating from CAFA, the 10 artists have tried to emerge from their original professional frameworks, to form more multi-disciplinary creations. For example, Zheng Jiang graduated from the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA, bringing a work for installation called “Coral”: “I initially learnt oil painting and I have created some installations in these two years, particularly as I am interested in the relationships between different materials.” Artist Wang Bo, who graduated from the Department of Sculpture and is now engaged in Chinese painting said that, “I really like the transboundary way ‘decathlon’ bringing together the artist… through this exhibition, I want to try a variety of artistic expressions. It is just a beginning, rather than the end.”

In the nearly 800-square-meter exhibition hall of Rightview Art Museum, depending on the individual works and the related experiences of the 10 artists this then determined his/her own display space. The artist Xu Hongxiang both presents a few large-scale works and the “small works” on the thinking of creation, including some old photographs, a few old posters, flyers, advertising articles, the magazine pages which were randomly torn, the use of pigments to modify this, create the ready-made articles, or take nail-polish remover to wipe the superficial trace of ink, to form a new visual experience. When he was interviewed by the journalist from CAFA ART INFO, Xu Hongxiang said that, “This exhibition is more like a collision course of experiential exchange between the artists, and I prefer to show some thinking on my creation.”

“The works by these 10 artists are placed in an exhibition, which might form a strained relationship that comes from their mutual differences, dispelling the common theme. How to take this to have a strange dialogue in the space by the work? It would become an interesting and challenging topic. In the face of such a challenge, whether our viewing experience is still valid? It happened that the artist Ju Ting can’t attend the opening ceremony because she is pregnant, and her work “Artist is in Confinement”: an IPAD is hung on the wall, and the audiences can open the video at any moment to exchange and chat with the artist.

Perhaps it neither demands on changing the existing way of watching, nor rushing to present a legitimate argument on the different works. Instead the theme of the exhibition is suspended, so that space and the work itself speak. In the dialogue, they challenge each other, and influence each other. In a more tolerant context, artists can constantly calibrate their identities and the location of work.

The exhibition remains on view until September 24, 2016.

Photo and text by Lin Jiabin, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO

About the Exhibition

Title: Decathlon

Producer: Sun Zhizhong

Curator: Mary Sue

Organizer: Beijing Rightview Art Museum

Opening Time: September 9, 2016 15:00

Duration: September 9 – September 24, 2016

Venue: No.25 South Xinhua Street, Xicheng District, Beijing

Participating Artists: Fu Bin, Ju Ting, Li Zhan, Liu Kai, Sha Weichen, Sun Ziyao, Wang Bo, Xu Hongxiang, Zhang Yi, Zheng Jiang (in alphabetical order).

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