Almost 30 years have passed since Lv’s first exhibition “Paper-cut Art Show” (1988) was held at the National Art Museum of China, during which Lv was active in multiple fields including art, culture, education and propagation as an academic artist. Considering that his last solo show “The New Emerging From the Old” (2005) took place in New York 10 years ago, “Last Century”, as a comprehensive survey of his artistic practice and thinking, is undoubtedly worth looking forward to.
Before the exhibition, Lv writes as below,
Last Century is a starting point, the beginning of modernity. All the problems we attempted to solve during the past hundred years were problems of the last century. The hardship we have been through and sacrifices we have made during the period, never meant to convey today’s results. Therefore we have no reason to live in the moment.
Lv Shengzhong, 2015
We shall start by briefly examining the historical background. If we acknowledge the exhibition “China Avant-Garde” (1989), which for the first time attempted to conclude and redefine the so-called artistic New-Wave since 1985, as a new starting point for Chinese modernist artistic practice, then the whole history of modernization of art in China, which began in the 1920s and 30s with the awakening of national sovereignty, together with the modernization of Chinese society, is artificially divided by the exhibition in 1989 into the “new” and the “old”.
Noticeably, this new starting point was purposely constructed to challenge the official discourse characterized by a disciplinary grand narrative. Its statement was strikingly made by the two “gun shots” at the exhibition in 1989.
Though Lv arose from “China Avant-Garde”(1989), his artistic practice and thinking, since its beginning until the later “Farewell Tradition” which he repeatedly spoke of as a discoursive corner stone, is seemingly in accordance but actually different from the above stated reconstruction of starting point inside the fashion of Chinese modernist art discourse framework. With his return to the rural tradition of Chinese folk art, Lv expands his artistic practice and thinking to a broader historical and cultural context beyond the disciplinary or anti-disciplinary discourse. While searching for the origin of the traditional culture, he reflects on concrete problems brought by the modernization of Chinese society, re-examining experiences of “modernity” that continuously transformed throughout the history of social modernization but widely shared in a broader sense. Though tracing back in cultural history, Lv has fully recognized the cost of modernization in reality. Hence he decides to say farewell to a tradition which is rooted in our cultural memories but one that we can never return to.
This exhibition, by re-introducing Last Century and its problems, aims to trace our experiences of modernity back to the conjunctive historical moment when the new broke up with the old. Instead of challenging the unrealizable appeals of modernity, Lv is questioning the fashionable notion of “living in the moment”, which is another illusion produced and constructed by a certain history.
Thus we are left with a universal inquiry: For what purpose do we live? It is for everyone to explore in “Last Century”.
About the exhibition
Opening time: 4pm, Nov 8, 2015
Duration: 2015.11.09 — 2016.01.01
Location: 2\3\4 F Exhibition Hall of Building 1,Today Art Museum
Courtesy of the artist and Today Art Museum, for further information please visit www.todayartmuseum.com.