Banner of Ideology and Manifestation

This exhibition is the first annual presentation by the Experimental Art Committee of the Chinese Artists Association, it focuses on contemporary experimental art by creating a new type of presentation.

“Experiments in Chinese Contemporary Art” is a contemporary exhibition, and is an experiment in itself. Rather than displaying finished works, it exhibits and explores the consciousness of problems in contemporary art, as well as the thoughts that are provoked. It presents attention to detail and the inquiry at the current moment. The exhibition is not a single exhibition, but instead a series of problems of the long-term, discerning contemporary, understanding contemporary, and beyond contemporary, by discussing art to improve the reforming and opening character of art, the possibility and direction of national rejuvenation and how art can lead the world. It is not a transient event any more, but constantly expands the ideology and experiment.

The exhibition took place at the 5000 square meter hall of Winshare Art Museum in October 2010, presenting 4 artists’ “experiments”, including Wang Huaiqing, Sui Jianguo, Zhong Biao and Chen Wenling, which is connected to the history of Xinhua Bookshop of the Winshare Group in Yan’an with Chinese contemporary culture and history as affected by different ideologies. The exhibition presented in Today Art Museum, Beijing from January 5th is going on to discuss the trajectory of the development of creative thoughts and concepts, as well as the relations between individuals and society. Through selected works, and a large number of documentaries, it constantly elaborates the cutting-edge problems and experiments on a new form of display, in order to closely diagnose the consciousness of the problem in contemporary art with academic rigor, peeling off the perplexing cover and exposing the true problems of the discussion and aesthetic education of the general public.

In particular, the exhibition selects the cases of the four artists, centering around the same research thread while expanding them into four topics. Each part is a combination of the artist’s thematic rendering and the results of research by a team of experts. In addition to art works, documents, information and videos are provided to explain the questions posed by the artists, to explore the formation of their works and the notion “homeland” in the minds of the artists’ generation, and the individual thoughts on state and future of the nation, as well as clarifying the subtle connection between the “form” of materialized artworks and the metaphorical “consciousness”.

Exhibition Preface by LaoZhu

About the exhibition:

“Ideology and Manifestation” is an “exhibition of problems”, i.e. exploring the consciousness of the problem in contemporary art, to improve the overall knowledge and reflection of society. Different from the general “exhibition of works”, rather than finished works, it presents the trajectory of thoughts on social development as revealed in the forming process, and different from the current popular “exhibition of a documentary”, although it provides a huge amount of documents such as contexts, illustrations, and material objects, it does not comb through the “past tense”, but reflects the dynamics of research in the progress towards an art piece. In addition, we hope that through the exhibition, the issues of contemporary art are transformed from a monologue of the “elite”, to the participation of the aesthetic world by the general public, and forming a wide topic of discussion that concerns the public. It is impossible that such thoughts will be fulfilled in an exhibition, and it can not carry variety of issues or problems, so at the beginning of the planning, we thought about how divergent the exhibition could be and how it will continue in the future, what would gradually develop on the basis of this initial exhibition.

“Manifestation” and “ideology” seem have vast connotations, their entangled relation has a fine explanation in Chinese history and the current situation. Not only inspiring a series of problems, it is also a reason why Chinese contemporary art is in need of “experiment”, naturally it is the theme of the initial exhibition. The four artists are representatives of the different aspects of the topic: Wang Huaiqing is always seeking the carriers of contemporary art through the infiltration of a Chinese style. The profound ideology behind the works, presents the connection between the artist and his times. The generation growing under collective education has been constrained in the long-term, and their spirits were detained for a destination and paradigm. In the two decades of social revolution, the contemporary social spirit lost their paradigm. They are the pioneers that constantly rebuild the spiritual home of individual thought. Chinese characteristic extraction of Wang Huaiqing’s specific abstraction, building out the shape of artists’ spiritual home, its ever-advancing abstract expression finally cut off their relation more or less with traditional graphic images, starting once again, implicitly subverting the shackles of the old paradigm constraining the individual will. The association of artists with the present times offer many clear clues for the interviews in the exhibition, especially Wang Huaiqing who met and reminisced with his 90-year-old tutor Zhao Xi, talking about how the independent critical thought of Lu Xun’s style became the only sustenance and yearning in the period of increasingly terrorist, forbidding individual will, and obeying a dogmatic ideological oppressiveness and reformation. In the conversation, it seems that the ideology that fades away into the past, is emerging as the manifestation.

What has Chen Wenling really experienced in his life, connects his artistic thought to the dignity of life. A robbery 15 years ago almost killed him, after 15 years, based on the re-understanding of life, he hopes to salvage the parents of the culprit and other prisoners sentenced to be death, when he visited the village again with his curatorial team from Beijing University, unexpectedly, he came face to face with the perpetrator: the record of this process is presented as a work. His personal choose happens to coincide with the establishment of the notion of “forgiveness”, an issue that the law experts are concerned about, Prof. Wang Shizhou, expert of Chinese criminal law, joined the conversation, triggering research by jurisprudence on this sensitive issue again. Forgiveness is a part of human nature, the issue of how to define the “legal boundary” of forgiveness is continually proposed, directly inciting public opinion and state of mind. The social contradiction and challenge produced by Chinese social differences, profoundly opposes the social harmony. The personal experience reflects the hidden, the reflection of the artist and art form, reflecting the important value of experiment in contemporary art: rather than giving a clear answer, it gives people the opportunity to have a conscience.

Zhong Biao’s works always bring the observer to the carnival scenes of the end of the world, out of the absurd, and out of sadness. The absence of spirit brought by the fast change in consciousness, proposes a question on how to build a future hope and survival plan. His creation in 2009 changed, and it seems that his father passed his final energy to him when he died. In his new faith, his whole world has never stopped moving from the macro to micro. Zhong Biao proposes his questions as an artist, mutually questioning social scientific rational thinking and social science. The dialogue between the artist and Xie Yu, sociologist and academician, promotes the extension of the meaning of the problem. Xie Yu has put forward his belief that heterogeneity exists, which is constantly reminding the individual of the unique significance being individuals, which is exactly the possibility when facing up to a lurking peril when confronted with enormous challenges of safety. Thus they appeal for the construction of mentality in a new form via the diffusion of contemporary art transcending popular trends and current limitations.

Sui Jianguo’s works aim to expand beyond the logic of thinking: he tries to get rid of a realistic projection of the reality, focusing on how to build a society without suppressing the development of the individual while reflecting emerging spiritual appeals of contemporary humanity. For Sui Jianguo, the exploration of art “seems to be a kind of attachment or a self-commitment, the top goal of contemporary art is to lead people to cast off the existing imprisonment, to find a path of personal liberation. The artists will solidify their confusion and loneliness into an uncertain shape to continue uninterrupted exploration, but this exploration will not give the audience an answer and an ideology. For this reason, it seems there are few “finished works”, but a constant construction in progress, presenting a “live scene” without works, as well as statements and discussion caused by these questions, and even the question from an ideological level. Perhaps what really gets rid of ideology, is the freedom on a higher degree as expected by humanity in the future.


Text by Teng Yuning

Translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO

Organizer: Today Art Museum Editorial Department of “Chinese Contemporary Art Yearbook”

Experimental Art Committee of the Chinese Artists Association

Winshare Art Museum

Curator: LaoZhu, Zhang Daxing

Co-curator: Yan Feng, Xia Tong, Teng Yuning

Artists: Wang Huaiqing, Sui Jianguo, Zhong Biao, Chen Wenling

Video Director: Xia Tong

Opening Time: 4pm, January 5, 2013Duration: January 6 – February 26, 2013

Location: 2nd floor exhibition hall of building 2, 1st and 2nd floor exhibition hall of building 3

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