Poster of“Soft Abstraction as Constellation”

“Soft Abstraction as Constellation” invites 28 of China’s most outstanding contemporary artists to show over 70 artworks together at UCCASTORE. The exhibition aims to present a survey of disparate definitions of abstraction that have emerged over the art form’s evolution, advancing new concepts and perspectives in the field. The exhibition is jointly curated by Bao Dong and UCCASTORE. Participating artists include Cai Lei, Chen Jie, Chen Youtong, Chen Yufan, Dong Dawei, Feng Zhengquan, Guan Yinfu, Huang Shuofei, Jiang Ji’an, Jiang Zhi, Liu Ke, Liu Wei, Lu Zhengyuan, Ma Shengzhe, Pan Xiaorong, Qian Lili, Ren Zhitian, Sun Xiaofeng, Wan Yang, Wang Zhiyi, Xu Ruotao, Xu Xiaoguo, Yu Xiaozhen, Zeng Hong, Zhan Rui, Zhang Ruyi, Zhou Qinshan, and Zhou Siwei. The exhibition will remain on view till November 9.

In line with the theme of the exhibition, curator Bao Dong has undertaken a detailed analysis of the concept of “soft abstraction.” “Soft abstraction” is not a reiteration of abstract art from the art historical tradition. These seemingly “abstract” works by Chinese contemporary artists are different from abstraction in the context of Western art history. Nor are these works an extension of some art historical logic. Rather, each artist sets out from a different perspective, ultimately arriving at an abstract style. “Soft abstraction” draws upon the established conceptual terminology of “abstraction” to describe a specific external trait of contemporary art practice. It aims to understand the diversity and dynamism of artistic practice through a visual aspect. “Soft” indicates a delineation that is neither clear nor strict; “soft abstraction” is a term that is loose and inclusive. If one were so inclined, one could also call this “light abstraction” or “broad abstraction.” Of course, as viewers we can also enter into each artist’s individual world, paying no heed to the overarching concept of “abstraction.”

The over 70 artworks in the exhibition are presented in the form of a concentrated cluster. Discussing the word “constellation” in the title of the exhibition, Bao Dong notes, “A ‘constellation’ is a group of stars. In astrology, constellations are actually composed of stars from many different galaxies. In reality, these stars are very far apart from one another, yet humans endow them with a symbolic relationship based on their position within the plane of the sky—the different astrological signs. In this sense, the exhibition employs the idea of the “constellation” as a method to gather and display these artists together. By projecting the concept of “soft abstraction” onto their disparate practices, these artists are connected by a single theme.

UCCASTORE is a longstanding supporter of outstanding Chinese contemporary artists and designers. Inspired by its motto “Bring Art into Your Life,” UCCASTORE hopes to explore a way of life that is suffused with contemporary spirit. Speaking about this exhibition, UCCASTORE Retail Director Ailsa Liu said, “If the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art is a catalyst for contemporary culture in China, then UCCASTORE opens the door to the arcane world of art for all those who are passionate about art and life. UCCASTORE hopes to bring a greater range of art merchandise and limited editions to a wider audience of art enthusiasts and collectors, promoting rational, healthy, fashionable lifestyles.” Speaking to the long-term significance of the exhibition and UCCASTORE’s development, Liu said, “This exhibition pioneers a new operational model for domestic art stores. The more than 70 works in the show are all originals, and they will all be sold within UCCASTORE—a first in the history of UCCASTORE.” All of the works selected for the show are small-scale. They are priced fairly and accessibly. In this way, the barrier to entry for art collection is greatly lowered, ushering in an expansive new generation of middle-class art enthusiasts. Through this exhibition, UCCASTORE aims to pioneer an entirely new operational model, shouldering the responsibility to act as an incubator for future art collectors alongside professional galleries.

Rooted in UCCASTORE’s unique position within the greater art ecology, this exhibition also marks an important test case. Maintaining China’s leading program of limited editions, UCCASTORE is as an advocate for avant-garde, young art practice. As Bao Dong has said, “This exhibition, jointly curated with UCCASTORE, breaks through the restrictions of the ‘white cube’ aesthetic of museums and galleries and the ‘standardized systems’ of the market, exhibiting works that demonstrate a certain marginality and experimental quality. These works, neither large nor expensive, allow the art-loving public to approach art collecting in a manner not possible before. In this way, the store helps professional galleries by acting as an incubator for potential art collectors.”

Courtesy of the artists and UCCASTORE, for further information please visit http://ucca.org.cn.

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