Art Radar Asia

Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond

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Posts Tagged ‘China’

Video artist Chen Chieh-jen premieres in UK with Empire’s Borders II

Posted by artradar on October 14, 2010


TAIWANESE ARTIST VIDEO ART UK EXHIBITIONS

Following his successful exhibition in the United States, Chen Chieh-jen (b. Taoyuan, Taiwan, 1960), an internationally acclaimed video artist, presents the UK premiere of “Empire’s Borders II – Western Enterprises Inc.” at the Chinese Arts Center in Manchester, UK.

The first iteration of Empire’s Borders, Chen’s critical response to the convoluted systems implemented as a result of Cold War policies, was featured in the Taiwanese Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009. In this commissioned work, Chen Chieh-jen examines the history of Taiwan within a globalisation context.

 

 

Chen Chieh-jen, Empire's Borders II, 2010, video still.

Chen Chieh-jen, Empire's Borders II, 2010, video still. Image courtesy of the artist.

 

The show, which runs from 2 October to 20 November this year, showcases a three-channel film installation including an autobiography of the artist’s father, a member of the Anti-Communist National Salvation Army (NSA), a list of NSA soldiers killed during the China offensive, an empty photo album and an old army uniform. Dr. Marko Daniel with Yu-ling Chou as assistant curated the show.

As profiled in the Taiwanese exhibition information on e-flux, “Chen Chieh-jen was born in 1960 in Taoyuan, Taiwan, and graduated from a vocational high school for the arts. He currently lives and works in Taipei, Taiwan. Chen created a series of photographic and video projects that re-imagine, re-write and re-connect his experience of living in a marginalised region and the intrinsic spirit of Taiwanese society, as well as propose possible ways of subverting dominant neoliberal logic.”

 

 

Chen Chieh-jen, Empire's Borders II, 2010, video still. Image courtesy of the artist.

Chen Chieh-jen, Empire's Borders II, 2010, video still. Image courtesy of the artist.

 

On Taiwanese-UK art blog +8 the artist’s career highlights are described: “He represented Taipei in the Venice Biennale in 2009, has been selected for Artes Mundi 2010, was included in the curated shows at the 1999 and 2005 Venice Biennales, the Liverpool Biennial 2006 and is showing in the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial in 2009-10. He has had solo exhibitions at the Asia Society, New York, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía 2008. In 2000, he was awarded the Special Prize at the Gwangju Biennale in Korea and in 2009 he was awarded Taiwan’s prestigious National Award for Arts for outstanding cultural achievement.”

The exhibition is produced as part of the Abandon Normal Devices (AND) Festival of New Media and Digital Culture in collaboration with the Chinese Arts Centre. It is also supported by the Council for Cultural Affairs, Taiwan.

MS/KN/KCE

Related Topics: Taiwanese artists, video art, art events

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Blog provides ground view of Chinese contemporary art – interview Katherine Don

Posted by artradar on September 28, 2010


INTERVIEW CHINA CONTEMPORARY ART ARTS WRITERS BLOGGING

RedBox Review is one of the most prominent English-language blogs dedicated to Chinese contemporary art. In an interview with co-founder Katherine Don, Art Radar Asia gains some insight into the aims of this sort of online publication, the progressive nature of Chinese art and Don’s personal background.

The blog, which currently has around 8000 subscribers, was founded in 2005 by Katie Grube, Mike Hatch and Katherine Don, also a director of and art advisor for RedBox Studio. It features original articles, event listings, gallery reviews, and commentary on and links to other coverage on Chinese contemporary art. In this way, it is able to provide a unique view of the Chinese avant-garde. RedBox Review is aimed at people who either work with or are interested in contemporary art. Its success is based upon its selection of relevant information vetted by its young, bilingual team of writers who are actively involved in the Chinese art scene.

The homepage of English-language Chinese art blog 'RedBox Review'.

The homepage of English-language Chinese art blog 'RedBox Review'. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Can you tell us about your background and how you became involved in art?

I am originally from Hawaii. I’m American. I’ve always been interested in arts. I went to school in New York at the Columbia University and studied art history there. I happened to spend a summer in China, where I was learning Chinese, and also started to intern for one of the galleries here. That was in 2001. I had travelled to China before then, just with my family. I am third generation Chinese-American…. [It was] through this relationship with China and learning about art when I was in school, that I became involved in the arts. I graduated with a dual-degree in Visual Arts, Art History and East Asian Studies.

So, how did you get involved in writing about art?

I have always wanted to write. The only way to be a better writer is to practice writing. So when I started working for a gallery in New York, focusing exclusively on Chinese contemporary art, I started writing. After two years, I moved to Taiwan to engage more in a faceted art community. But I realised that Beijing is the cultural hub of China, traditionally, but also with the contemporary art scene. So moving here to China was a way for me to get involved with the art scene and to see it on the ground. The curiosity and the desire to learn more about China from on the ground, this is RedBox Review.

You are one of the co-founders of RedBox Review. What is RedBox? What does it mean? How would you describe RedBox Review?

It’s our blog for viewing the contemporary art scene and art in China from [our] vantage point in Beijing. We write it in English, because that’s my mother tongue, but also I feel that there are numerous sites in Chinese that are available for the local audience to give them access to visiting shows or documentation about art. But in English it’s much more limited and if people don’t visit China, it’s very hard to know what’s happening…. RedBox Review is a way to edit the content by selecting which shows, news and articles we feature. We mainly do it objectively, linking to other articles, re-publishing texts that we think are worthwhile for reading. We’re not so interested in writing reviews of exhibitions. We’re more interested in being a research [tool] for people…. We’re not trying to be a critical voice.

Can you tell us the story of how RedBox Review began? What inspired you to start RedBox Review?

When I moved to China, I started… RedBox Studio. RedBox Studio began as… an art consultancy basically. All our projects are focused on promoting contemporary art in China. [RedBox Review developed as] a platform for my colleagues and I to share the information and the activities that we were seeing and doing here in Beijing.

You are also the co-founder for RedBox Studio. Can you tell us about this organisation?

Basically RedBox Studio is the platform for promoting contemporary art in China. We provide a variety of services, beginning with our graphic design studio. We print and publish artist catalogues, maps and guides for the art scene here. We also provide art advisory services.

Inside RedBox Studio, a China-based art consultancy firm.

Inside RedBox Studio, a China-based art consultancy firm. Image courtesy of RedBox Studio.

There are not many organisations like ours in China. The infrastructure is relatively young. I think that there is a need for art consultancy and people who provide a ladder-role between artists, galleries and museums. We are involved in a variety of different projects, basically introducing the art scene to new cultures, both Chinese and foreign.

We are not a gallery, but we are a consultancy, meaning that as an independent organisation, we work with different participants in the art scene – with galleries, with museums, with artists – directly to realise their projects. I do represent private clients and help them acquire acquisitions.

Over the time period that you have been covering art, what changes have you seen in the Chinese contemporary art scene? What are the biggest challenges facing artists in China?

There are many changes in the art scene in China, and that the artists are facing. But frankly, I think, by selecting shows or different articles and events on our website, we’re trying to provide a complete … picture of what might be happening here. Often the media abroad can only focus on, perhaps, sensational topics or the news [of] very well-known and established artists and often can’t really focus on some of the activities that are going on on the ground in China.

I think that there is a lot of room for development for art… [in] contemporary Chinese society. The way that people view art, the way that people understand art and collect art, is actively changing…. I think that this change is what is really exciting and interesting about the Chinese art scene today.

You also facilitate the sale of artworks. In your opinion, what are the current trends in Asian art?

In the past fifteen years, the Chinese art market has made its mark on the international stage and I think that the diversity of Chinese art, in terms of medium, makes [for] a very rich and engaging art scene in China. Artists are working in performance [and] video, exploiting different scenes such as Chinese painting, … photography, sculptures and oil-painting. There are artists experimenting with all mediums, but all with different kinds of content and different approaches to the art. I think that there is a lot going on in China.

Is there any particular information, news or advice you would like to share with our readers? What advice would you give to our readers about what websites and publications to follow about Chinese art?

Well, my first suggestion to people who want to know more about [Chinese contemporary art] is to read as much as they can. But if those sources are not available, my next [suggestion] is to visit China to take the opportunity to see what’s happening, because things change so quickly. The diversity of Chinese contemporary art goes beyond what can be reported and documented on in a two-dimensional format, meaning online and in pictures.

Installation view of work by Wang Tiande at the NBC Studio, Olympic Media Center (2008).

Installation view of work by Wang Tiande at the NBC Studio, Olympic Media Center (2008). The placement of these artworks was facilitated by RedBox Studio. Image courtesy of RedBox Studio.

How do you see the Internet being used to promote or communicate information about art in China? How important is it? Where and how do you see the art and the Internet evolving in the future?

I know a lot of people involved with contemporary art are trying to use and exploit the Internet and technology as a way to create a wider audience space. And it’s true, there’s a lot of opportunity [that comes] with using the Internet and technology, such as creating a virtual museum or electronic books or websites and blogs. But, I think that the first step is not only to invest in using the Internet, … people need to understand how diverse … art in China is and have an interest in viewing it and understanding what’s happening [here]. The diversity of art in China is really interesting…. It can’t be easily defined into one category. I think that the Internet plays a great role in disseminating information. That is actually quite innovative and I think it’ll continue to change in the future.

What is the biggest problem in obtaining information about Chinese art? What information is difficult to get hold of? What do you think could be improved?

Not reading Chinese. I think the language barrier is one of the biggest problems. I think one characteristic is that a lot more people [from China] can read English than those from abroad can read Chinese. They are very well-read and exposed to international art activity. In regards to writing, practiced critical writing, [this] is something that leaves a lot to be desired in the art scene here. I think objective critical writing is an evolving practice.

Where would you like to see RedBox Review go in the future? Do you have any plans or innovations?

I hope that more people read it and find it useful for understanding the art scene. Our plan is to continue contributing to this site [with] thoughtful and objective descriptions and posts about the art scene.

About Katherine Don

As a writer and specialist in contemporary Chinese art, her writing has been published in local publications, as well as Art in America and Art Asia Pacific. In 2005, she co-founded RedBox Studio, an art and design studio providing a unique combination of art consulting and graphic design services to the art community in Beijing and abroad. As Director, she works with artists, curators, galleries and institutions to realise exhibitions, art programs, and publications dedicated to the promotion of art and design in China.

JAS/KN/HH

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Korean art hit and miss at Seoul Auction Hong Kong: New York Times

Posted by artradar on July 21, 2010


SEOUL AUCTION HOUSE RESULTS

A recent article by The New York Times explains the market trends of recent Hong Kong newcomer, Seoul Auction’s two highly successful auctions held in 2009:  Korean collectors continue to acquire Western contemporary artists, Chinese artists buy modern Chinese paintings and Korean art sales are a hit and miss affair. Read on for more…

Seoul Auction was established in 1998, and was for many years was the city’s only auction house. In 2008, it opened an office in Hong Kong, and since then has been gaining international credibility as a top-rate Asian auction house. Seoul Auction uses the auction platform as a way to introduce Western art to the Asian market, as well as introducing relatively new work from South Korea and other Asian countries to the international market.

Damien Hirst, The Importance of Elsewhere – The Kingdom of Heaven. 2006. Butterflies and Household paint on canvas. 292x243.9 cm

Damien Hirst, 'The Importance of Elsewhere – The Kingdom of Heaven,' 2006, butterflies and household paint on canvas, 292x243.9 cm.

Trends in Western art

Seoul Auction’s record-breaking 2.2 million dollar sale of Damien Hirsts The Importance of Elsewhere – The Kingdom of Heaven, arguably its most notable achievement, and similarly pricey sales of other Western artists have revealed a flourishing market for Western Art in Asia. Works from Damien Hirst’s “Butterfly” series have proven very sell-able, although Seoul Auction has avoided his brush paintings – a pair of silk screen prints failed to sell at their April sale.

Donald Judds linear block sculpture Untitled (Progression 87-26) and Robert Indiana’s Eight from his number series are among those that fetched the highest prices. Roy Lichtenstein has also been introduced and has had a healthy reception.

According to the chief executive of Seoul Auction, Jun Lee, “Korean collectors are very sophisticated.” He adds that they had been collecting Western contemporary art “for the past twenty years, even when the market was not that active, even in New York. They are very open-minded. It’s a survival strategy under these circumstances, in periods of recession. We’re trying to persuade our contacts with whom we’ve built relationships over the past ten years to sell.”

Popular Asian contemporary artists

The “Infinity Nets” mixed media sculptures by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama have been highly successful. Works by Anish Kapoor, introduced to Korea by Seoul Auction, have also been highlighted as having healthy sales.

A photographer takes a picture of Yayoi Kusama, Venus No.1, Statue of Venus, Obliterated by Infinity Nets, 1998, Oil on canvas and fiberglass, 227x145.5cm, 68 x 60 x 21cm, at Hong Kong International Art Fair. Taken from freep.com

A photographer takes a picture of Yayoi Kusama's 'Venus No.1, Statue of Venus, Obliterated by Infinity Nets' (1998) at the Hong Kong International Art Fair. Taken from freep.com.

Korean art hit and miss

Although Korean works account for forty percent of Seoul Auction’s offerings in Hong Kong, sales of Korean art have been hit and miss. Kim Whanki’s abstract geometry paintings have sold well, but video artist Nam Juin Paik’s work has failed to sell. The article accredits this to the relatively short history of South Korean art in the international market compared to that of Japanese and Chinese artists, although in recent years sales to Western collectors have increased.

Chinese collectors prefer traditional art

Chinese art has been undeniably popular among Chinese buyers. Sanyu’s Flowers in a White Vase, Wang Yi Dong’s Girl and Peaches and Zeng Fanzhi’s Mask Series no 21 3-1 sold for good prices, some even exceeding their estimates.

Also popular among Chinese buyers are traditional paintings, such as works by Impressionists Chagall, Renoir, and Picasso, but they are less interested in less familiar American pop artists. According to an article by the Hong Kong Trader, there is also a trend for crossover art.

With the growing trend for crossover art (Chinese buying Japanese art, Japanese buying Korean art, etc), Ms Shim expects more Asian auction houses will look to set up a base in Hong Kong. By moving early, she says, Seoul Auction will gain a strong foothold. ‘We are preparing now for the good times ahead.’

As expressed in The New York Times article, the buying power of China is told only too well through the popularity of traditional works when contemporary works are struggling to sell.

Read the full article here.

MM/KN/KCE

Related Topics: venues- Hong Kong, collectors, market watch – auctions

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National Art Gallery Singapore pays homage to 1970s leading artist Yeh Chi Wei in a retrospective

Posted by artradar on July 14, 2010


NATIONAL MUSEUM ART RETROSPECTIVE SINGAPORE

The Story of Yeh Chi Wei” at the National Art Gallery, Singapore celebrates the life and times of pioneering artist Yeh Chi Wei, a critical current in the shaping of a unique Southeast Asian style of painting in the 1960s and 70s.

Born and educated in China, Yeh became a well-known artist and educator in Singapore. He is most remembered for his role as the leader of the influential Ten Men group – a group of artists and art educators that would later take on the form of the seminal Southeast Asian Art Association.

Credited with defining the course of the Singapore arts scene in the early days of the 1960s and 70s, Yeh became famous with his unique style that drew from his interests in Chinese woodblock print, Han dynasty carvings, decorations on bronze vessels and oracle and stone drum inscriptions. In his paintings,varied Southeast Asian painting traditions achieve an unlikely unity, evoking a monumentality in both figurative and non-figurative works.

Drummer by Yeh Chi Wei. 1963

Yeh Chi Wei, 'Drummer', 1963.

Yeh took influence from his travels across the Southeast Asian subcontinent with the Ten Men group. Imbibing local painting styles, flavors and colors, Yeh’s works move from representational to an investment in abstraction during his career as an artist.

Boats in Bali by Yeh Chi Wei. 1962

Yeh Chi Wei, 'Boats in Bali', 1962.

In the heyday of Yeh’s popularity as an artist, educator and part of the Ten Men group, Yeh moved to a village in Malaysia where his career took a downward turn. A lot of his works never made it out of Malaysia and the artist fell into obscurity. In an article in The New York Times, Southeast Asian curator Ong Zhen Min said,

It was not until we delved into the archives that we realized how interesting and innovative this artist was, and understood the uniqueness of his art. Most of his paintings were in his Malaysian studio and were not widely circulated beyond that point, so his name faded into obscurity. We hope this exhibition would be able to reintroduce audiences to his art works.

A lot of Yeh’s work stands out for its choice of palette. Of the artist’s unique selection and application of color, Ms Ong says,

Yeh was probably one of the most daring artists of his generation in his use of black. Most artists use black to highlight things, but he actually used black and its different shades as a color. From a distance, it almost looks like a cave drawing, which I think is an effect he was trying to achieve.

Drummer by Yeh Chi Wei. 1970

Yeh Chi Wei, 'Drummer', 1970.

Yeh taught art for 22 years at different schools around Singapore and Malaya and passed away in 1981. This exhibition is the first survey show since his passing, and is an overview of his artistic career and his contribu­tions to the Singapore art scene.

The Story of Yeh Chi Wei” is on at the National Art Gallery, Singapore until 12 September, 2010.

AM/KN

Related Topics: Singaporean artists, museum showsgroups and movements

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Leading non-profit institutions gathered by Tate Modern for art event: Art Radar Asia lists Asian participants

Posted by artradar on July 8, 2010


TATE MODERN ARTS FESTIVALS ASIAN ART INSTITUTIONS LISTS

In celebration of the Tate Modern‘s tenth birthday, thirteen Asian art institutions were invited to join global arts festival No Soul For Sale: A Festival of Independents in early May this year. The event brought over seventy independent art spaces, non-profit organisations and artists’ collectives from across the world to the Turbine Hall, indicating which institutions the Tate considers leading in the global art scene.

Read on for more about the thirteen Asian art organisations in attendance at No Soul For Sale. (Listed in alphabetical order.)

98 Weeks – Beirut

Initiated in 2007 as an artist organisation devoted to research on one topic in depth for 98 weeks, 98 Weeks has also become a non-profit project space since 2009 and has been organising workshops, seminars, reading groups and other art activities in Beirut. The project space is committed to providing a gallery for artists to research and develop ideas, exhibitions and artworks; a platform where artists, cultural practitioners and neighbors are welcome to propose ideas and a space to enhance self organised initiatives and the sharing of artistic resources.

Arthub Asia – China

Arthub Asia

'Crazy English', a performance by the Shanghai-based Chinese artist Zhou Xiaohu, was staged in No Soul For Sale 2010

Being a multi-disciplinary organisation dedicated to creating arts in China and the rest of Asia, Arthub Asia is devoted to initiating and delivering ambitious projects through a sustained dialogue with visual, performance and new media artists as well as collaborations with museums and public/private spaces and institutions. It is a collaborative production lab, a creative think tank and  a curatorial research platform. Initially conceived to support the non-profit BizArt Art Centre through structural funding in 2007, Arthub Asia has facilitated more than 110 activities in China and the rest of Asia and has become the major provider of structural support not only for artists working in China and across Asia, but also for a global community of leading curators, art professionals and producers.

Alternative Space LOOP – Korea

Devoted to defining alternative Asian art and culture by confronting Western-oriented globalisation, Alternative Space LOOP is committed to the search for young defiant emerging artists, promotion of connections between visual arts and other genres, establishment of international networks of alternative spaces, support for creative activities and better environments for exhibition. The art space, which was established in 1999, has been planning to expand its size since 2005.

Arrow Factory – Beijing

Located in a small hutong alley in Beijing’s city center, Arrow Factory is self-funded, independently run art space that can be visited 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. It is committed to presenting works that are highly contingent upon the immediate environment and responsive to the diverse economic, political and social conditions of the locality. Founded in 2008, Arrow Factory was initiated as a response to commercially defined contemporary art in Beijing, which is also increasingly confined to purpose-built art districts in the remote outskirts of the city.

Artis – Israel

With the firm belief that artists are cultural emissaries and agents of social change, Artis aims at expanding the innovative practices of Israeli artists around the world and aiding them to reach global audiences by holding cultural exhibitions and events. Since its establishment in 2004, it has been running numerous art-related programs including curatorial research trips to Israel, a grant program for international exhibitions and events, international commissions, performances, events, talks and an active website with artist profiles, articles, videos, news, and events.

Barbur - Jerusalem

Barbur - Jerusalem

Barbur – Jerusalem

Founded in 2005 at the heart of Jerusalem, Barbur is an independent nonprofit space for art and artists with the aim of being a platform for critical debate that deals with social issues while developing projects with local communities through monthly exhibitions and weekly screenings, lectures, workshops, music performances and other events.

Collective Parasol – Japan

Founded in January 2010, Collective Parasol is a private organisation for art and social-cultural activity. It is run by its artists, curators, a filmmaker, an art law specialist and an art student. It provides an open-ended platform for a wide range of projects and aims to establish a new form of “collective” that questions the solidarity, essentiality and possibility of artist collectives/communities and alternative spaces. Each member organises his or her own projects, puts together an idea with other members and collaborates with guests from a wide range of fields who are working within creative projects. The platform can take the form of a café, gallery, theater, studio, residency, meeting place for local people… the list is essentially endless. Collective Parasol is open to non-members who can use the space, equipment, and technical support.

Green Papaya Art Projects – the Phillipines

Founded in 2000, Green Papaya Art Projects is the longest running independently run creative multidisciplinary platform in the Philippines which specialises in exploring tactical approaches to the production, dissemination, research and presentation of contemporary practices in various artistic and scholarly fields. It tries to be a platform for critical intellectual exchanges and creative-practical collaboration among the artistic community.

PiST///Interdisciplinary Project Space - Istanbul

PiST///Interdisciplinary Project Space - Istanbul

Para/Site Art Space – Hong Kong

Founded in 1996 in Hong Kong, Para/Site Art Space is devoted to bringing leading international practitioners to Asia, increasing the visibility of Hong Kong artists and facilitating East-West dialogues through an ambitious program of exhibitions, screenings, talks and events.  It is a platform for artists and other art practitioners to realise their vision in relation to their immediate and extended communities with the aim of nurturing a thoughtful and creative society.

PiST///Interdisciplinary Project Space – Istanbul

PiST///Interdisciplinary Project Space is a non-profit art space in Istanbul that produces new and experimental works which explore urban environments, everyday life and public/private space conflicts through collaborative experimental work with local and international art professionals. The art space acts as a runway for local and international art professionals to land on and take off from.

Post-Museum – Singapore

Founded in Singapore in 2007, Post-Museum is an independent cultural and social space dedicated to encouraging and supporting a thinking and pro-active community through providing an open platform for examining contemporary life, promoting the arts and connecting people.

Sala-Manca + Mamuta – Jerusalem

Sala-Manca is a group of independent Jerusalem-based artists who stage performances and create videos, installations and new media works which deal with the poetics of translation (cultural, mediatic and social), with textual, urban and net contexts and with the tensions between low tech and high tech aesthetics, as well as social and political issues. Having produced and curated Heara (comment) events, it has also published the art journal (H)Earat Shulaym without any external official, political or economic support.  It founded and directs Mamuta, a platform that promotes artistic experimentation as well as social and political engagement through providing studios, a residency program and production labs that facilitate exchange and dialogue between artists.

Sàn Art – Vietnam

Sàn Art is an independent, artist-run exhibition space and reading room in Ho Chi Minh City that supports the country’s thriving artist community by providing an exhibition space, residency programs for young artists, lecture series and an exchange program that invites international artists and curators to organise or collaborate on exhibitions.

CBKM/KN

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Compound Eye: RongRong and inri retrospective at He Xiangning Art Museum

Posted by artradar on June 16, 2010


CHINESE CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY MUSEUM EXHIBITION

Compound Eye: Works by RongRong & inri (2000-2010)(website in Chinese) is the first retrospective exhibition of collaborative works by RongRong and inri since they started working as a husband-and-wife team in 2000. In 1999, the Chinese photographer RongRong met inri, a Japanese artist, at his solo exhibition in Tokyo. They did not understand each other’s languages at that time, but they “understood each other deeply from their works.” Built on the foundation of their individual styles, their collaborative works surpass the limits of their individual vision.

Untitled Series, 2008, No.25 180x134cm, Courtesy of He Xiangning Art Museum and artists

Untitled Series, 2008, No.25 180x134cm. Courtesy of He Xiangning Art Museum and artists.

The lens naturally became a “compound eye” for the pair, enabling them to document themselves and their encounters with nature and their living landscape in depth and from perspectives only made possible by this “eye”. Feng Boyi, the exhibition’s curator, defines the unique quality of their works as such:

“Their collaborative method gives their works a romantic exterior, but the circumstances of their work and the narrative context overturn this romanticism, thus deconstructing their individual memories, dreams, and imaginations. This uniquely beautiful romantic language reflects their combined vision and a different side of nature and reality.”

In Fujisan, No.13 100x134cm , 2001, Courtesy of He Xiangning Art Museum and artists

In Fujisan, No.13 100x134cm , 2001. Courtesy of He Xiangning Art Museum and artists.

RongRong and inri’s freeze frame genealogy

The exhibition is divided into 13 series, each centering on a location and time, as well as the particular emotion associated with it. “In Fujisan, Japan” series (2001) was created after the pair made the decision to be together. This series concentrated on the spontaneous passion of discovering nature and each other, their realisation of their chance to live and create fully. “Caochangdi, Beijing” series (2004-2009) documents the births of three sons into their family. “Three Shadows, Beijing” series (2008), documenting the founding and operation of the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, can be read like a family genealogy. The freeze frames, shaped in circles, add a timeless flavour to the family portraits. The use of this circle shape can also be found in “Untitled 2008″ series, suggesting the continuity of life in the universe and their creative process.

When asked about the challenges and decisions involved in putting together this exhibition, curator Feng Boyi replied:

Uncertainty is an important element of experimental contemporary art, because artists themselves are in the phase of exploring new ideas and methods. For a general audience not familiar with the art critical discourse, contemporary art seems distant. Everyone has grown up with a relatively fixed aesthetic preference, while the general art education in China is not very helpful in fostering individual taste. Hence, I am very careful in my curatorial process to take this dynamic into consideration. RongRong and inri’s works are less abstract, so the barrier to understanding should be lower. I also try to engage the audience by providing interactive opportunities – pinhole camera workshops are run every weekend.

Caochangdi, Beijing Series, No.1 102x109cm,  2004, Courtesy of He Xiangning Art Museum and artists

Caochangdi, Beijing Series, No.1 102x109cm, 2004. Courtesy of He Xiangning Art Museum and artists.

He Xiangning Art Museum an important part of China’s art landscape

He Xiangning Art Museum (website in Chinese) is located in Shenzhen, a small fishing town which was designated as a “special economic zone” in the 80s. From these humble roots, it has grown into the cosmopolitan city in Guangdong province you can visit today. Shenzhen has always been well known as a trading centre for business and industrial production, and is the hub of the Pearl River Delta economic region. Lacking an innate infrastructure for art, Shenzhen has seen its government working with private partners to initiate and build quite a few arts clusters.

As a young migrant city without broad art heritage, Shenzhen has gone through a very fast urbanization process in the past thirty years. It is open and welcoming to new ideas and attempts. We have worked with a roster of curators, both Chinese and international. Shenzhen has a leading position in the design discipline in China. We also focus on Shenzhen’s critical location as a regional hub connecting Guangdong Province, Hong Kong, and Macau. The recent exhibition “The Butterfly Effect – An Artistic Communication Project of Cross-Strait Four Regions(website in Chinese) pays tribute to this very idea. (Feng Boyi, curator)

The museum was founded in 1997 and is the first Chinese national museum named after an individual. Since its inception, He Xiangning Art Museum has put on programmes with high aspiration and an international view: the Shenzhen Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition, first held in 1998; Wang Guangyi (website in Chinese) and Yue Minjun‘s (website in Chinese) solo exhibitions; Xu Bing’s Primer for the Mu, Lin, Sen (木, 林, 森) Project in 2009; a number of shows collaborating with Italian and French artists and curators.

He Xiangning Art Museum has always championed slightly marginalized artists in China. They still keep on creating original works without receiving overwhelming media attention. In the past few years, the characteristic of Chinese contemporary artists has shifted from being critical, avant-garde to being less so, especially after the intervention of capital in the art creation process. To some degree, the desire for fame and status has replaced their critical spirit. RongRong and inri remain experimental. They are exactly the type of artist that He Xiangning Art Museum is interested in. (Feng Boyi, curator)

When asked how He Xiangning Art Museum views the current status of art museums in China, museum director Yue Zhengwei said:

“Competition amongst museums should not be our primary concern. Founding an art museum is not the most difficult thing, but maintaining a well-run programme requires a lot of efforts. Each museum in the same city or region should develop its own unique positioning to differentiate from the rest, to avoid the wasting of resources. This is crucial to maintaining a healthy art museum eco-system.”

As an example, in the factory-converted creative and posh residential zone Overseas Chinese Town (OCT) in Shenzhen, He Xiangning Art Museum co-exists with the OCT Art and Design Gallery (website in Chinese) next door. OCT showcases a fusion of art and design, a perfect fit for a city recently named as China’s first “City of Design” by UNESCO.

“Compound Eye: Works by RongRong & inri (2000-2010)” is on at He Xiangning Art Museum until 11 July, 2010. It has been organised by He Xiangning Art Museum, with assistance from the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

SXB/KN

Related Topics: museum shows, photography, venues – China

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3 young Chinese artists awarded prizes at inaugural Caochangdi PhotoSpring

Posted by artradar on May 21, 2010


PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL BEIJING AWARDS

As part of the launch of the first annual Caochangdi PhotoSpring festival, held in Beijing, China, from 17 April to 30 June this year, three young Chinese artists were awarded a prize for their outstanding work in photography. The three award winners were selected out of 20 semi-finalists who in turn had been chosen from over 200 submissions from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other parts of the world.

International panel of experts awards photography prize

A panel of international photography experts including Eva Respini (Associate Curator, Photography Department, Museum of Modern Art, USA), François Hébel (Director of Les Recontres d’Arles, France), Karen Smith (Photography Critic and Curator, UK), Kotaro Iizawa (Photography Critic, Japan), and RongRong (co-founder of the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, China) made up the members of the jury and selected the recipient of the Three Shadows Photography Award 2010.

The festival was directed by well-known artist couple RongRong & inri, founders of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, together with Berenice Angremy. The director of Les Rencontres d’Arles, François Hébel, acted as guest curator. According to the event’s website, the award aims to support and encourage new talent and give them greater exposure both locally and internationally.

This year’s 3 winners

The winner of the third annual Three Shadows Photography Award and the 80,000 RMB cash prize was 28 year old Shandong province native, Zhang Xiao. In his They Series of 2009 he deals with ordinary people who, because of their jobs, are often relegated to the fringes of society. The artist describes his work: “In real life, they are a group of very ordinary people, with their own lives and careers, but in these photographs, they seem strange and absurd, and very unreal. Behind this ostentatious city there is always grief and tears, indifference and cruelty. I met them by chance and I longed to understand each of their lives and experiences. Perhaps our daily lives are all absurd. I long to understand the meaning of our existence.”

Zhang Xiao, They Series No.01, 2009. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre

Zhang Xiao, They Series No.01, 2009. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre

Winner of this year’s Shiseido Prize and a 20,000 RMB cash prize was Wang Huan. Born in Shandong Province in 1989, her Alley Scrawl Series (2009) of black and white images was taken of the people, animals and places of the small town of Zhuantang, near Hangzhou. The artist was drawn to recording the lives of its “simple, decent” inhabitants. “It was this simplicity that… made me want to record their lives and engage in this narration about life’s vicissitudes” says the artist.

Wang Huan, Alley Scrawl series No. 2, 2009. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre

Wang Huan, Alley Scrawl series No. 2, 2009. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre

The haunting black and white works of the winner of The Tierney Fellowship a and 5,000 USD cash prize, Huang Xiaoliang, deal with memory and a yearning for a better future. The Hunan Province-born artist (1985) presented his An Expectation or a New Miracle Series (2008-2009), with its shadows and dream-like images drawn from the artist’s memory. The artist states, “Many things from my memory appear in these works; these things are from scenes that I remember.”

Huang Xiaoliang. An Expectation or a New Miracle Series No. 15 2008-2009. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre

Huang Xiaoliang. An Expectation or a New Miracle Series No. 15 2008-2009. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre

Caochangdi PhotoSpring and Arles in Beijing

The photo festival was held at one of Beijing’s top art districts, Caochangdi. Caochangdi PhotoSpring partnered with 40 year old French photography festival Les Rencontres d’Arles. This is the first time that the Arles’ exhibitions have been shown outside of France.

Caochangdi PhotoSpring offered a myriad of exhibitions from 27 participant galleries featuring both Chinese and international artists. The festival also featured slide shows and discussions, documentary film screenings, book launches and even musical concerts. Some exhibitions and activities run into the month of July.

The main hub of activity, including the venue for the opening ceremony and the announcement of the festival winners, was at the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre. This centre, which was opened in 2007, focuses solely on photography and video art. The Centre was designed by Chinese artist/architect Ai Weiwei.

Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre

The courtyard of the Ai Weiwei designed Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, China. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre

The semi-finalists: 20 young and upcoming Chinese artists

The semi-finalists, whose work was showcased at the Three Shadows Photography Centre Galleries, are: Chen Ji’nan, Feng Li, He Yue, Huang Xiaoliang, Li Chunjun, Li Liangxin, Li Yong, Liao Wei, Liu Jia, Liu KeMu Ge, Qi Hong, Song Xiaodi, Tian Lin, Wang Huan, Xiao Ribao, Xue Wei, Zeng Han, Zhang Jie, and Zhang Xiao.

Tibetan-born artist Qi Hong submitted hand-painted black and white images of the three gorges damn 15 years after they were taken with the intent “to gradually develop the landscape and life of the Three Gorges that I remember.” His images depict the inhabitants going about their activities of daily life such as boatmen pulling a boat against the current, or mountain inhabitants moving a house.

Qi Hong. Backpacker in the Ra, Three Gorges series. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

Qi Hong, Backpacker in the Ra, Three Gorges series. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

With regards to his Stone City Series 2009, He Yue states, “Cities are created by piling things up and such is the case with life and thoughts.” For example, in Moth (2009) we admire the beautiful pattern on the wings of a moth only to realize that it is resting on a toilet seat. Or in Electric cables (2009) we can still find beauty in the pink hued cloud that is hovering in the blue sky, even if this view is intersected by electric cables.

He Yue. Dove, 2009. City series. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

He Yue, Dove, 2009, City series. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

Li Yong presented his Daily Series 2006-2009 in which he documents the effects of rapid economic development in China and its often harmful impact on the environment. One of his photographs depicts a man fishing in a pond that has a partly submerged building in it without any concern as to how this might affect the toxicity of the fish he will later consume. Another depicts a man calmly sitting in the water surrounded by submerged buildings and trees heedless of its possible effect on his health. The artist states, “The people in these photographs are like me in the sense that we cannot change this environment; we can only indifferently accept it and calmly live in it.”

Li Yong. Fishing, 2008. Daily series. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

Li Yong, Fishing, 2008, Daily series. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

Song Xiaodi has no formal training but managed to capture the attention of the judges and the public with her images of fish and flowers in ultra-bright colours.

Song Xiaodi. Light Series, 2009. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

Song Xiaodi, Light Series, 2009. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

Haunting images of China’s Xinjiang region were taken between 2005-2009 by Tian Lin, her series, Children of Yamalike Mountain, depicts the inhabitants of the main shanty town in this region, known as the “slum of Urumqi.” These children, from migrant families, play and live in this dusty rubble with a sprawling modern city as their distant backdrop. According to the artist, tens of thousands of migrant workers from different ethnic backgrounds, such as Uighur, Hui, Han and Kyrghiz live here but with no legal papers or standing.

Tian Lin. From the series Children of Yamalike Mountain, (2005-2009). Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

Tian Lin, from the series Children of Yamalike Mountain, (2005-2009). Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

Taiwanese artist Xue Wei used a scanner to construct full-size images of her body. She had to scan her body section by section between 18 and 24 times to reach her desired effect.

Xue Wei. Self-Portrait - Side, 2005. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

Xue Wei. Self-Portrait - Side, 2005. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

For more information about the festival visit the website.

Watch for part two of Art Radar Asia’s coverage of Caochangdi PhotoSpring which will highlight a number of exhibitions including some from the Arles program.

Read part two here: Beijing first to host Arles program outside France

NA/KN

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Is China shooting a cultural missile at Taiwanese art? Taipei Times examines

Posted by artradar on April 2, 2010


CHINA TAIWAN CULTURE CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS

More on China’s use of cultural power to influence social change

In January this year Art Radar Asia published a summary of an article printed in Canada’s Toronto Star regarding the Chinese government’s use of the “soft power” of the arts for international influence, specifically their growing recognition that media and culture can be a powerful tool to spread political, social and economic ideologies beyond its borders.”

Drunken Beauty, the star attraction in a recent popular Taiwanese exhibition of works by Chinese artist Liu Linghua. source

In a recent editorial in the Taipei Times, J. Michael Cole develops this notion further, discussing the possibility that Beijing is beginning to proactively and openly push Chinese culture into Taiwan, hoping to increase acceptance of its “one China” policy.

Under President Ma Ying-jeou, there has been a strong push by both China and Taiwan to better develop cross-strait relations and this has meant that the creative industries of both countries have been “cross-pollinating”. Coles warns that this could lead to “an assault on the Taiwanese consciousness through cultural means. By dint of repetition and subtle changes here and there (on television, in schoolbooks and academic forums), the Chinese plan could succeed in eroding Taiwanese cultural identity – at least to a certain extent.”

But just how much influence can this cultural “soft power” have on a nation with such a strong cultural identity. As Cole counteracts, “The willingness of Taiwanese to engage in more discussions with Chinese, to watch Chinese movies, attend Chinese art expositions (or gaze at pandas) is simply natural curiosity. By no means does this signify, however, that by doing so Taiwanese accept the so called Chinese nation…”

Rare artworks from China’s Palace Museum went on display in Taiwan’s National Palace Museum during a three month exhibition in late 2009. source

So, while the Chinese government has made it clear that their “cultural influence is no mere collateral – it is, in fact, the tip of a missile aimed straight at the heart,” Cole writes that “if Beijing subscribes to the belief that interest in seeing things Chinese means acceptance of its dominion over Taiwan, it is in for a very unpleasant surprise.” It does seem, however, that “for Beijing, nothing is sacred, or off limits, in its pursuit of unification.”

You can read the full editorial on the Taipei Times website: Beijing sees culture as a weapon J. Michael Cole, 5 March, 2010.

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KN/KCE

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Top 6 research sources for contemporary Chinese art by Asian art history major

Posted by artradar on January 21, 2010


TOP BLOGS, BOOKS, NEWSPAPER SOURCES FOR CHINESE ART

What do you read? What information are you looking for? Where do you find it? These are the questions on our lips every day when we talk with art world movers. We have learnt that, despite exploding levels of activity in the art scenes across Asia, reporting remains sparse and uneven and that people have a surprisingly diverse range of sources depending on their base country and background.

In this post we ask Ashley Lee, one of our new intake of interns who  studies Asian art in the US and London, to give us her perspective. 

As a young full-time scholar based in the west, what Ashley are your favourite sources of information about Chinese contemporary art?

As an art history major specializing in contemporary Asian art, here are the list of sources that I utilize regularly in my studies to keep up with the fast-paced scene. These are my absolute favorite sources—everything that I read and recommend frequently.

e-flux – http://www.e-flux.com – A basic yet comprehensive list of new exhibitions and announcements in the art world. Its journal, which has been published online since November 2008, raises questions about contemporary art issues.

Art AsiaPacific – http://www.aapmag.com – One of my favorite periodicals: it covers the Middle East and Central Asia as well as East Asia.  AAP also has articles that describe the major successes and progressions of major Asian artists and movements, which makes it especially helpful for research—for example, in the last issue, Zhang Huan and Roberto Chabet were mentioned.

ArtRadarAsia – https://artradarasia.wordpress.com – As a student, I appreciate ArtRadarAsia for its broad range of topics covering all of the Asian art world. It’s an excellent resource for finding a paper topic or finding an overview of a movement or a specific area of Asia.

New York Times exhibition reviews – http://www.nytimes.com – The New York Times art critics often review Asian art shows in the New York area. I would especially recommend reading reviews by Holland Cotter because they contain valuable specialist information on Asian art.

Asia Art Archivehttp://www.aaa.org.hk – A library of contemporary Asian art resources in Hong Kong which contains reference materials, exhibition catalogues, periodicals, pamphlets, exhibition invitations, newspaper articles, among other things. It’s comprehensive (it has over 25,000 catalogued materials), especially for East and Southeast Asia, and its catalogue is viewable online. It also has a listing of special events related to contemporary Asian art.

Wu Hung, Exhibiting Experimental Art in China: This is my favorite book about the development of contemporary Chinese art. Wu Hung, one of the foremost scholars of Chinese contemporary art, wrote this book as a catalog for Cancelled: Exhibiting Experimental Art in China, a 2000 show at Chicago’s Smart Museum. It explains the reconstruction of Song Dong‘s installation Father and Son in the Ancestral Temple, which had originally been shown in the 1998 exhibition It’s Me, which was shut down by the Chinese government. It also lists all the exhibitions that were shut down or censored in the 1990s.

AL/KCE

Related posts:
Top 5 Sites for Japanese Contemporary Art News by Matthew Larking – June 2009
Top 14 Books on Southeast Asian Art by Adeline Ooi – April 2009
Top 5 Books on Chinese art by Chinese art specialist, Pippa Dennis – October 2008

 

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Posted in Books, China, Chinese, Lists, Research, Resources, Reviews, Scholars | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

China to use “soft power” of arts for international influence

Posted by artradar on January 5, 2010


CHINESE ART AND POLITICS

China wants its own version of  Hollywood. An intriguing article in the Toronto Star examines China’s growing recognition that media and culture can be a powerful tool to spread political, social and economic ideologies beyond its borders much in the manner of the USA’s film industry.

The economic revolution in China began thirty years ago. Back then, there was nowhere to create or exhibit art works and the Chinese government hardly had time to think about art and international cultural standing. China was opened up to Western investment and the country has since surged toward becoming the world’s second largest economy. Now, China has begun to realise the power that can be gained by having a successful cultural industry.

“…a carefully calibrated gambit is playing out that links cultural production with economic development and the ruling party’s deep desire to shift from a service-first manufacturing centre to a serious, full-fledged player on the international stage.”

China is seeking the benefits of what it calls developing its “soft power”. The country has spent many years creating a booming primary and secondary industry and as a result has spent little time focussing on becoming a cultural world entity.

“…in modern China, soft power translates to a full-scale public relations campaign designed to bolster its image – and influence – by selling an in-tune, culturally savvy version of itself to the world.”

Considering China’s significant history in contributing to world culture in centuries past it is now seeing the value in developing its cultural identity again. China is opening itself up to the international art circuit and some of its artists are gaining widespread popularity and success.

The government is trying to use the arts to disseminate its political views to the world. China’s political administration increasingly views cultural production as a valuable tool for building a strong nation and is rapidly pouring millions of dollars of government money into this sector as well as opening it up for private investment.

1500 new museums to be built by 2015

“China plans to spend untold billions to build 1,500 new museums nationwide, most of them with budgets in excess of $100 million, by 2015. Meanwhile, the state-run media and entertainment bureaus announced this fall that they would spend billions themselves to help build gargantuan media and entertainment juggernauts to rival such American monoliths as Time Warner and News Corp., with the stated intent of producing content in multiple languages for export. It also said that increased private ownership, still under state scrutiny, would also be allowed.”

Many developments have been occurring over the years where old factories and former industrial areas are being rejuvenated by the government as new “art villages”, such as Beijing’s 798 Art District. These places consist of clusters of artist studios and galleries where art can be produced, viewed and sold.

798 art district third most popular tourist draw in China

“The 798 Art District has been a remarkably successful model. In its short life, it has become the third most popular tourist draw in the country, after the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. Dozens of such districts dot Beijing’s urban landscape. In Shanghai, an unofficial number has such areas at close to 300.”

Beijing's 798 Art District

While there may be a move by the government to celebrate local cultural achievements on a world scale, they still want to have control over the ideologies being expressed. However, more widespread access to and use of the Internet and digital cameras has allowed distribution of Chinese art works that critique party ideals.

“…a new kind of expression that has sprouted amid the state-mandated cultural flowering. It’s a thriving underground scene that, through the portability of technology and government indifference, is slowly beginning to promote an idea alien to Chinese thinking – that individual expression can find a place, and an audience, however small, outside the party machine.”

It seems China’s political powers hold an increasingly modern and accepting view in terms of developing the country’s cultural domain. However, even China’s most celebrated artists are finding that they still must toe the ideological line in order to continue to produce their work. There is a dark side to this cultural push and many artists have found out the hard way what happens to those who challenge the government of China.

This is a summary of How China is using art (and artists) to sell itself to the world (Murray White, Toronto Star).

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KN/KCE

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