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Posts Tagged ‘The Ministry of Art’

Young Chinese artist Li Hui lights up Netherlands: an Art Radar interview

Posted by artradar on September 28, 2010


CHINESE ARTIST SOLO EXHIBITION LIGHT ART NETHERLANDS

Li Hui at work. Image courtesy of Ministry of Art.

Li Hui at work. Image courtesy of Ministry of Art.

Following his impressive solo exhibition last year in Mannheim, Germany, young Chinese artist Li Hui brings yet another surprise to the European art scene. In the pitch-dark exhibition space provided by The Centre of Artificial Light in Art in the Netherlands, Li Hui presents a spectacular display of four of his light works entitled “Who’s afraid of Red, Amber and Green?. The show, which runs from 16 July to 24 October this year, showcases Li’s experiments with laser and LED light.

The current show, the title of which may remind people of Barnett Newman‘s painting Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue?, exhibits four of Li Hui’s works: Amber, Reincarnation, Cage and Everything Starts from Here. The works were selected jointly by John Jaspers (director of The Centre of Artificial Light in Art), Christoph and Cordelia Noe (co-directors of The Ministry of Art who represent Li Hui) and the artist.

In an interview with the museum, printed on the museum guide, Li Hui describes his works:

“I can imagine that if someone sees my work for the first time, it can have a very strong visual impact. Just like in Newman’s paintings, the bright colors first have to get stored in one’s brain. I also understand that there are elements in my works that might make people feel a little puzzled or even a little scared when first confronted with them. However, from what I have experienced, it is not just the visual impact, but also the ‘otherness’ or their mysticism that can have this kind of result. It is somehow similar to … Shamanism.”

Art Radar Asia spoke to Li Hui about the ideas in his works, the challenges he faces and his future plans.

Light not an intended media

Specialising in sculpture at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, Li Hui learnt to use stainless steel and wood but not light. In fact, he never meant to use light in all of his works, and would not call himself a light artist. It was in the process of production that he thought of light as a possible media for some of his works. He gives an example of how he came up with using LED light for Amber.

“I wanted the transparent material to glow, and I found that LED light is the only light that can produce the effect I wanted. The material is also thin enough for me to install inside the work, so I used it.”

Using LED light led to his discovery of the properties of laser light, a non-heating light which produces pure colors, and he started to experiment with it for other works. Light is not a usual medium for art in China or the world and Li says of this phenomenon,

“Light doesn’t seem like a material that can be used in art – if you do not handle it well, the outcome will be awful. Everyone can use light in their work, but light may not always be a good material to help them express what they want to express.”

"What I want to create is smoke rising from the bed softly and freely. It is a work that would evoke emotions, but this may not be obvious from photos," relays Li Hui. Reader's who are interested in experiencing these emotions firsthand can click on the image to watch a video. (Please note that the video is presented in Dutch.) 'Reincarnation' (200 x 110 cm; height variable) is a sculpture made of laser lights, fog, metal and medical bandage to create a mysterious, psychedelic, religious visual effect. In Buddhism, reincarnation means cycle or life circulation – the recurring process of our spirit being incarnated in another life after we die. Image courtesy of Ministry of Art.

"What I want to create is smoke rising from the bed softly and freely. It is a work that would evoke emotions, but this may not be obvious from photos," relays Li Hui. Readers who are interested in experiencing these emotions firsthand can click on the image to watch a video. (Please note that the video is presented in Dutch.) 'Reincarnation' (200 x 110 cm; height variable) is a sculpture made of laser lights, fog, metal and medical bandages. Image courtesy of Ministry of Art.

At this point, Li hasn’t thought about specialising in light art, and says that he would use whatever materials suit his concepts. Asked about what he is going to do next, Li says that he is interested in the spiritual and the inner world. When asked whether there are particular philosophies that Li Hui wants to convey in his works, he answers no.

“I want to create feelings which cannot be expressed in languages. There are just too many works attached [to] some kind of philosophy, but to me that’s not what art is about. You create feelings in art – if you can feel it, others will feel it too.”

Li Hui says about his work 'Cage': "There are two cages inside the work made of laser beams. Laser beams are special in a way that they look tangible while in reality they are not. The two cages appear alternatively so that a group of people who find themselves 'trapped' in the cage in one moment would suddenly find themselves outside the cage in the next. This work brings out the contrast between reality and illusion." 'Cage' (each 200 x 200 cm; height variable) is made of laser lights, mirrors and iron. Image courtesy of Ministry of Art.

Li Hui says about his work 'Cage': "There are two cages inside the work made of laser beams. Laser beams are special in a way that they look tangible while in reality they are not. The two cages appear alternatively so that a group of people who find themselves 'trapped' in the cage in one moment would suddenly find themselves outside the cage in the next. This work brings out the contrast between reality and illusion." 'Cage' (each 200 x 200 cm; height variable) is made of laser lights, mirrors and iron. Image courtesy of Ministry of Art.

Technological skill toughest obstacle

You may imagine Li Hui’s laboratory crammed with a lot of professional equipment to support his experiments, but in reality he has to seek technological support from others, such as LED light producers, to create his light works. In fact, technology is one of the greatest challenges in the artist’s production process.

“It is impossible to do the works in my own studio. I have to cooperate with others. I don’t have their professional equipment. It is very costly…. The most difficult [thing] is skill – I am not talking about artistic skill, but technological skill. Sometimes the problems are just impossible to solve.”

For Li Hui, every work is born from rounds of brain-storming followed by rounds of experiments in an effort to work through and predict potential problems.

“Experiments push toward the final outcome. At the initial stage of production, I may draw on the computer. Then I begin experimenting with materials. For example, I test a few shots of laser beams with smoke and find the proportion that suits what I want to express.”

Li Hui says about his work 'Everything Starts From Here': "This is a discovery in an experiment. The light beams strike through the transparent dining goblets to project a very impressive light image on the wall. Most of my works are large but this one is not because it is an experimental work." 'Everything Starts From Here' (20 x 30 x 20cm) utilises laser lights, a metal box with a crank, glass and projectors. Image courtesy of Ministry of Art.

Li Hui says about his work 'Everything Starts From Here': "This is a discovery in an experiment. The light beams strike through the transparent dining goblets to project a very impressive light image on the wall. Most of my works are large but this one is not because it is an experimental work." 'Everything Starts From Here' (20 x 30 x 20cm) utilises laser lights, a metal box with a crank, glass and projectors. Image courtesy of Ministry of Art.

Ministry of Art dedicated to Chinese art in Europe

Art Radar Asia spoke with Christoph Noe, one of the directors of The Ministry of Art, an art advisory and curatorial company based in China which represents Li Hui, to find out more about how European opportunities are secured for Chinese or other Asian artists.

“The Ministry of Art … has a broader scope than [just being] a gallery. Our idea is to give artists the opportunity to cooperate with museums or art institutions in Europe … as a lot of the Chinese artists have already had the opportunity to exhibit their works in China or Asia, and some of them lack the opportunity to exhibit in Europe. We come in with our expertise because of our European origins and networks with European institutions. Once we are excited about a Chinese artist we can find an institution that fits very well for that artist.”

Li Hui will participate in a group show called Internationale Lichttage Winterthur 2010 in Switzerland in November. He will present another solo exhibition in June 2011 in Berlin, Germany.

CBKM/KN/HH

Related topics: Chinese artists, light art, museum shows, emerging artists

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Posted in Advisors, Artist Nationality, Chinese, Curators, Emerging artists, Events, Gallerists/dealers, Installation, Interviews, Laser, Li Hui, Light, Medium, Museum shows, Professionals, Sculpture, Spiritual, Styles, Themes and subjects, Venues, Z Artists | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Young Chinese Artists The Next Generation – book review

Posted by artradar on June 10, 2009


EMERGING ARTISTS CHINA BOOK REVIEW

A new book called Young Chinese Artists: The Next Generation was recently sent to us for review by the editors. We were a little concerned that this might be another ostensibly objective production, the real purpose of which is – yes, you guessed – the promotion of gallery artists.

Li Yu Liu Bo She follows you and sleeps in your bed naked? Who is this lady? 2006 C Print and Lightbox

Li Yu Liu Bo, She follows you and sleeps in your bed naked? Who is this lady?, 2006, C Print and Lightbox

We were, however, surprised and delighted to find that it is a book to roll around in, play with and draw inspiration from. At 300 pages long it provides an introduction to thirty artists (six of whom work as duos) born in mainland China between 1975 and 1981, roughly half a decade.

Buy here

Click to buy

This era and time frame – unusually short for a survey – are two of the factors which make this book particularly engaging.

The p0st-’70s era was selected because it marks the end of the Cultural Revolution and artists born in this period are witness to China’s continuing frenetic social and political development: a rich source for artistic inspiration and expression.

But, perhaps just as significantly for the success of the book, these artists, born no later than the seventies, have had enough time to build a body of work large enough for in-depth assessment. At the same time many are sufficiently unknown to allow us a tantalising sense of discovery.

The short time period of 1975-1981 astutely recognises the velocity of change in China in the last thirty years: a shorter time-frame allows for a more rigorous and meaningful analysis of the themes preoccupying artists which are teased out in a series of essays by experts and writers.

The team of twenty writers and editors include influential figures such as Huang Du who was curator for the Chinese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2003 and Philip Tinari who curated the selection of Hong Kong artists at the big-name Louis Vuitton show in Hong Kong 2009.

Xu Zhen, Fitness, 2007

Xu Zhen, Fitness, 2007

Each artist is awarded one chapter which contains an interview, eight or so images, a listing of principal exhibitions and a one-page overview of the development of the artist’s work by one of the team of writers, usually written in a somewhat academic style. This is an extract from Philip Tinari’s essay ‘The Merry Prankster’ about Xu Zhen:

“Xu Zhen’s recent work has grown more light-hearted, if predicated on the notion of elaborate fictional scenarios. In one 2007 work Fitness he rigged exercise machines with remote control technology so that the viewer can get a virtual ‘workout’ by pressing buttons.”

Perhaps the least successful sections are the promising-sounding artist interviews where responses turn out to be  perfunctory. “Do you believe in true love?” “Yes”. Perhaps the fault lies in the skills of the interviewers who use closed-ended questions without follow up. But then again the snappy style was ubiquitous across the responses and could in fact be a telling reflection of the essential culture of this generation of artists: a time-starved, light-chat-as-snack culture propagated by the internet social media.

What we liked most was the sense that the editors had tried to reflect the real art scene as they experience it on the ground, even though their take may be viewed as controversial.

“In the past several years outside of China a number of contemporary art exhibitions featuring young Chinese artists showcased artistic forms such as video, multimedia and installation which gave the impression that painting was passe… while we have observed that the employment of these ‘new media’ is widespread (quite a few artists work in more than one discipline), painting is very much a driving force in the contemporary art scene.”

Find below more facts about the how the artists have been selected and their names.

Further criteria used for selection:

  • representative of the generation – themes which reflect the mindset of the generation
  • origins in mainland China – born and raised there
  • the variety of media actually used by artists – while ” new media is widespread, painting is still a driving force in contemporary art scene”
  • local/international exposure
  • body of work showing discernable artistic development
  • independence of thought and
  • authenticity

No account was given of the market value of the works.

Artists are:

Birdhead, Cao Fei, Chen Ke, Chen Quilin, Chi Peng, Gong Jian, Han Yajuan, Li Hui, Li Jikai, Li Qing, Li Yu and Liu Bo, Liang Yue, Liu Ding, Liu Ren, Liu Weijian, Ma Yanhong, Qiu Xiaofei, Ta Men (THEY), Tang Maohong, Wang Guangle, Wei Jia, Wen Ling, Wu Junyong, Xu Zhen, Yang Yong, Zhang Ding, Zhou Jinhua.

To buy Young Chinese Artists: The Next Generation click here

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Posted in Books, Chinese, Emerging artists, Generation art, Overviews, Profiles, Research, Resources, Reviews, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »