02 Wang Guangyi, "Red Rationality Revision of the Idols", 1987; oil on canvas

Today Art Museum is the first private, non-profit international contemporary art museum in China. It has long been dedicated to the exhibition and research of Chinese contemporary art and the establishment of linkage with international contemporary art. It has staged many large scale contemporary art exhibitions, and is highly regarded both at home and abroad.

2012 is the 10th anniversary of today art museum. From October 14 to November 27, Today Art Museum will hold the large scale research exhibition “Thing-in-Itself”: Utopia, Pop and Personal theology, supervised by Zhang Zikang and curated by Huang Zhuan.

The idea of the “thing-in-itself” is a core concept in Kantian philosophy, as well as a central theme in the history of modern thought. Things-in-themselves are the source and foundation of phenomena and sensory material, but are also unknowable things that lie beyond human cognition, imbued with a priori spatiotemporal form and universal, absolute metaphysical properties. Dialectically, it is a category that is distinguished from the “thing-for-us,” and in contemporary art history, this category has manifested as a series of multiple and paradoxical relationships between things and words, materials and ideas, reason and belief.

Wang Guangyi has been one of the most representative artists in Chinese modernist art history since the 1980s. His artistic path embodies the complex paradoxical logic of Chinese contemporary art’s progression from its era of enlightenment to avant-gardism, postmodernism and consumerism, but for a long time, critique and research of him has been misconstrued and limited by cold war critical discourse and the commercial capitalist interpretation that is “political pop.” There is a need for an individual case study that takes the history of Chinese thought and visual culture into account.

“Politics, Art and Mythology: the Wang Guangyi Art Research Project” will use the theme of “things-in-themselves” to engage in in-depth academic research of the historical dialectic properties of the rationality and faith, secular and transcendental, political and mythological contents of Wang Guangyi’s art, and will use this research-oriented presentation of a typical case study in Chinese contemporary art history to apply combined art history and intellectual history methods to holistically clarify the internal logic, image methods and situational influences taking place within this period of history. The academic goal of this pursuit is to provide a Chinese-language critical case study for the global theoretical interpretation system of contemporary art.

The exhibition will comprise a retrospective component and a themed exhibition component. The retrospective component will consist of three segments: “Imagining Cultural Utopias – the Logic of Creation”, “From Analysis to Pop – Revision and Requisition” and “The Mythology of Materialism – Material and Form,” presenting a temporal trajectory that spans thirty years of Wang Guangyi’s most representative works from the 1980s to the present. The exhibition will include such oil paintings as Frozen North Pole (1985), Post Classical – the Death of Marat (1986), Black Rationality – Analysis of Purgatory (1987), Mao Zedong No. 1 (also known as the Mao Zedong AO sketch) (1988), and Great Criticism – Marlboro (1994) and such large scale installation works as Visa No. 2 (1994), Foundational Education No. 2 (1996) and Cold War Aesthetics (2008). The exhibition will also present a large number of previously unreleased documents, such as plans, sketches, videos and photographs. The themed exhibition component will feature the large scale installation work Things in Themselves, which the artist is creating for this exhibition.

On October 14, the most famous museum directors, curators and researchers all around the world, including Marko Daniel from the Tate Modern, Jonathan Fineberg and professor Xu Gang from the University of Illinois, will be invited to participate in the academic exchange in Beijing. In addition, an international symposium Ways of Constructing the History of Contemporary Art host by the famous art historian Wu Hong, will be held at the museum, in order to stimulate the academic interaction between Chinese and foreign contemporary art. During the exhibition, Wang Guangyi’s View of Art lecture will be held at the Central Academy of Fine Arts.

As the long-term strategic partner of Today Art Museum, Mercedes-Benz hopes to present more outstanding contemporary art works to the public via the cooperation with the Chinese avant-garde art landmark and push forward the development of Chinese contemporary art by supporting more artists with dreams and talents.

Meanwhile, Martell, also the strategic partner of the Museum, provides a lot of help to this exhibition. Upon its completion, the exhibition will tour Europe, America and Asia.

Courtesy of the artist and Today Art Museum, for further information please visit www.todayartmuseum.com.


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