Salon, Salon: Fine Art Practices from 1972 to 1982 in Profile—A Beijing Perspective is the third exhibition of From the Issue of Art to the Issue of Position: The Legacy of Socialist Realism in Chinese Contemporary Art, a research initiated by artist Liu Ding and art critic Carol Yinghua Lu. This research examines the historical narratives and ideological construct of Chinese contemporary art in a timeframe of 67 years since 1949.
Salon, Salon focuses on a ten-year period from 1972 after Lin Biao’s botched coup against Mao and airplane crash in 1971 to 1982, marked by The Summary of the Fifth National Trial Conference on the “Two Cases” issued by the Central Government. This decade is both a critical transition in China’s political history, and a relatively cohesive artistic period. This exhibition inquires into the artistic practices of three generations of artists, mainly active in Beijing, within this ten-year period. Specifically, we study the Beijing Oil Painting Society (including the Spring Festival Oil Painting Exhibition preceding its formation), the No Name Group, the Stars, Friday Salon, April Photo Society, Men of the Same Generation, and a small number of artists. These were artist initiatives and individual members emerging in the late 1970s, involving three generations of artists of varied educational backgrounds and statuses including: 1) Painters trained before the Liberation War (1945–49); 2) Painters trained after the founding of People’s Republic of China (1949) and before the Cultural Revolution (1966–76); 3) Amateurish painters appearing before and during the Cultural Revolution; 4) Young artists, writers and poets who graduated and became active in the late Cultural Revolution or after.
This exhibition includes artworks of some of the involved artists, made around the period from 1972 to 1982, as well as archival materials that outline the historical settings out of which their works and practice had emerged. It looks at the “internal exile” of artists and their practice under harsh political circumstances, from the late Cultural Revolution to the eve of the Reform and Open Door policy, considering how individual practitioners had explored, defined, oscillated or adjusted their personal standpoints confronted by the tension between art and politics. In particular, we will investigate the modernist experience inherited from the Republican Period of China, how it contradicted, collided, intertwined, reconciled with and strayed from the mainstream ideology within the structure of the PRC.
We delve into the actions taken by cultural bureaucrats and professionally trained artists to enact changes for art within the official system, and the reactions and responses in the wider society ignited by such actions, and look at bottom-up autonomous initiatives carried out by non-official art practitioners. We observe the basic structures, driving forces and processes of formation in art through an “integrative” perspective, whereby we underscore the accidental and heterogeneous elements in order to reflect on the multiple tracks of interactions between art and politics within the broad framework of “national revolution.”
By engaging with “details and materials” and discussing specific case studies, this exhibition re-contextualizes the abstracted experience in contemporary art, foregrounds the lively presence of history, and activates the scenes and situations that have been generalized, omitted or concealed, including specific thinking, emotion, and atmosphere. Ultimately, it is to locate the hidden cracks in the existing narrative, which can become new beginnings for reflection.
This exhibition is co-curated by Liu Ding and Carol Yinghua Lu. Artist Yan Bo, curator Su Wei, and art historian Chen Shuxia and architecture historian Song Ke have participated as researchers in this project.
About the exhibition
Dates: 2017.01.08 — 2017.03.07
Venue: Inside-Out Art Museum
Courtesy of the artists and Inside-Out Art Museum, for further information please visit www.ioam.org.cn.