The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing announced its latest exhibition Curated by Wang Xingwei: Specificity in later July, selected artists include: Liu Weijian, Wang Xingjie, Wen Ling, Xia Guanglong, Zhan Yingxiang, Zhang Shujian, and Zhang Wuyun. Initiated in July 2008 by former UCCA Director Jérôme Sans, the UCCA “Curated By…” series invites established Chinese artists to recommend emerging talents and curate exhibitions for them. The series helps to forge connections between artists of various ages working at different stages of their careers, and provides valuable exposure and exhibition opportunities for young Chinese artists, particularly those who have never held a solo exhibition before. In the final installment of the longrunning “Curated By…” exhibition series, the work of these seven young artists, selected by one of China’s most interesting and intelligent painters, is showcased together for the first time.
Wang Xingwei, whose own major retrospective will open at UCCA in spring 2013, has assembled a group exhibition of seven artists whose works address, from different perspectives, the fraught relationship between (realist) painting and the reality it is tasked with depicting. Many of the artists hail from Wang’s home region in northeast China, and he has identified four thematic approaches visible in the exhibition, which he describes as “the elimination of ranking, irreplaceability, an unknown condition, and a sense of reality.”
From a generation and background sympathetic to the discovery of painting as an awakening, Wang Xingwei draws together a shared acuity of observation, where time is captive and individual experience paramount. The artists, born between 1969 and 1987, include figures such as Wen Ling, known for his underground pen-on-paper comics and DIY publications and Wang Xingjie, the curator’s younger brother, alongside several painters who have never before shown in a museum setting.
Together the works express moments of clarity and confusion, exploring the balance between concrete and impermanent in a rapidly shifting world – a dichotomy described by Zhan Yingxiang as ‘instants of illogical estrangement, vivid moments of clarity’. In the fifteenth and final instantiation of the “Curated By…”exhibition program, this show sees the most artists ever represented together in the series, as well as a curatorial approach that balances both collective voice and a diversity of perspectives from a shared locale.
The exhibition is accompanied by an eponymous new book by writer and LEAP senior editor Guo Juan. Published by UCCA Books, it includes an extended essay on each of the seven participating artists. In the same spirit of exploring the relationship between depiction and reality as the exhibition itself, these essays look at the daily lives and situations of the artists as deep background for their creative endeavors. Based on extensive on-site research, Guo Juan’s essayistic portraits form a compelling document of individual lives and works.
About the curator
Wang Xingwei (b. 1969, Shenyang, Liaoning) graduated from the art department of Shenyang Normal University. Concentrating on developing his own critical sense of shape, color and form, Wang Xingwei freed himself from the standardized approach taught in the academies. Through an experimental exploration of the canons of art history and painting, an original voice emerged that was sincere, humorous and sometimes subversive. In his paintings, social, cultural and arthistorical references are subtly imbedded in a non-linear visual language of personal symbols and associations. Unconcerned with conforming to any specifically “contemporary” stylistic identity or market constraints, Wang Xingwei continues to deconstruct preconceived notions surrounding how works of art should be read and understood, creating new interpretive possibilities. He currently lives and works in Beijing. Selected group and solo shows include the Biennale d’art Contemporain de Lyon in Lyon, France (1997), the 1st Guangzhou Triennial, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou (2002), Thirty Years of Chinese Contemporary Art 1979-2009, Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai (2010) and The State of Things, Brussels/Beijing, at the National Art Museum of China, Beijing (2010), curated by Fan Di’an, Ai Weiwei, Luc Tuymans and Philippe Pirotte. A major retrospective of his work to date will appear at UCCA in 2013.
In this exhibition, Specificity, the work of these seven artists could be understood through the following approaches:
Ranking: paying special attention to neglected things, overlooked details, forgotten relationships, ignored feelings.
Irreplaceability: emphasizing these people, things, feelings, these moments (which are not types)… these things exist per se, not as each other, not as types.
The Unknown Condition: under intense inspection daily objects take on a hypnotizing sense of unfamiliarity.
A sense of reality: emphasizing the directness of individual experience – faulty and personal.
About the exhibition
Date: Jul 22, 2012 – Aug 30, 2012
Venue: UCCA Long Gallery
Exhibition sponsored by Bloomberg.
Children’s Art Workshop: ‘Photos’ with Pens
Time: Saturday, August 11, 10:00-11:30
Venue: UCCA La Suite
Guests: Wen Ling and Zhang Shujian (UCCA exhibiting artists)
Language: In Chinese only
smart Artists’ Talk Series: Solo and Ensemble – Personal Voice in a Group Show
Time: Sunday, August 26, 14:00-15.30
Venue: UCCA Auditorium
Guests: Wang Xingwei (curator), Guo Juan (LEAP editor), Wen Ling and Zhang Shujian (UCCA exhibiting artists)
Language: Chinese with English translation
Limited-edition artwork One Day in My Life is available at UCCASTORE.
“One Day in My Life is the series I am currently working on. The story describes all the tiny pieces of my life; waking up, switching on my cell phone, brushing my teeth, having breakfast, sleeping, and so on. It is still a work in progress. From the ‘beta version’ of this piece, I made several booklets with an ordinary printer and a simple stapler. Each booklet is unique, and uses different kinds of paper, page numbering and cover pages.” – Wen Ling
Courtesy of the artists and The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, for further information please visit www.ucca.org.cn.