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Posts Tagged ‘Xu Zhen’

Xu Zhen takes on Middle Eastern identities and cultures as the new artists’ collective alias Madeln at the Ikon Gallery, UK

Posted by artradar on June 16, 2010


MADEIN ARTIST COLLECTIVE CHINESE ART UK GALLERY SHOW

Seeing One’s Own Eyes is the first European exhibition by MadeIn, a new artists’ collective founded in 2009 in Shanghai by Xu Zhen (b. 1977, Shanghai), often heralded as one of the most important and renowned conceptual artists to have emerged from China since the 1990s.

While the work is all made in China, Madeln impersonates a fictional group of Middle Eastern artists, creating a kind of exhibition in disguise, “an exhibition of an exhibition.”  The use of this technique enables Xu to play down his personal identity.

Derived from “Made In”, two words that refer to manufacturing (with country of origin not specified), the name Madeln also phonetically translates into Chinese for “without a roof ” (‘méi d˘ı∙ng’), suggesting an openness to the collective’s work.

Through a range of media including sculpture, video and mixed-media installation, Madeln presents clichéd images of the Middle East, as a war-torn part of the world, associated with the oil industry, death, violence, human suffering and religious conflict. By raising issues of cultural perception, the exhibition encourages us to take a clearer view of current affairs in that region of the world.

The most recent work titled Hey, are you ready? (2009–2010) comprises of three large white sculptures made from polystyrene, one of the many by-products derived from the distillation of oil. These objects form neat, crisp packaging for the protection of loaded symbols including mosques, crescents, oil barrels and Kalashnikov rifles, revealed by negative space.

Spread (2009), a series of wall hangings covered with cartoon imagery, deal explicitly with the geographical politics of Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, China, Europe and the USA. Key political figures and scenarios are starkly drawn and exaggerated to billboard proportions, provoking and highlighting the often unconstructive and negative debates that are encountered in this area.

'Spread' by Madeln (2009) Mixed Media on Canvas, Courtesy the artist and ShanghART Gallery

'Spread' by Madeln (2009), mixed media on canvas. Courtesy the artist and ShanghART Gallery.

In Perfect Volume (2009) the toe-ends of combat desert boots create a circle on the floor representing a row of absent soldiers as imagined casualties. This references the eternity and infinity of the circle, and is further depicted in the piece Machine for Perpetual Motion (2009), a model of an oil pump, constructed meccano-style but made from razor wire. The energy needed for its movement is blatantly taken from an electrical socket.

The illusionary installation Calm (2009) is made of building debris, a carpet of bits of brick and rubble that is still at first glance. Slowly it reveals itself as animated, gently moving up and down as if it were breathing like the survivor of a bomb blast, trapped and awaiting rescue. This notion of destructive power also features in the low-level floor-based installationThe Colour of Heaven (2009), where mushroom clouds from atomic bomb explosions are placed under assorted glasses.

'The Colour of Heaven' by Madeln (2009) Glasses, painting Courtesy the artist and ShanghART Gallery

'The Colour of Heaven' by Madeln (2009), glasses, painting. Courtesy the artist and ShanghART Gallery.

The title of this exhibition refers to a verse in the Koran, “My way, and that of my followers, is to call you to God, on evidence as clear as seeing with one’s own eyes” (Sura 12, verse 108). Freely translated it is an opportunity for to reflect, a consideration of how we see – by “seeing one’s own eyes” – as much as what we see.

Seeing One’s Own Eyes” is a collaboration with S.M.A.K. (Belgium) and is on display at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK, until 11 July, 2010.

Two other articles regarding Xu Zhen’s Madeln and “Seeing One’s Own Eyes”, when the show was on display in other international locations, are:

RM/KN

Related Topics: Chinese artists, venues – UK, gallery shows

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Posted in Art as meditation, Cartoon, Chinese, Conceptual, Consumerism, Events, Fact and fiction blur, Found object, Gallery shows, Illustration, Installation, Middle Eastern, Political, Sculpture, Shows, UK, Video, War | 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 »

UBS collecting video and global art, showing four decade survey National Art Museum Beijing to Nov 2008

Posted by artradar on August 15, 2008


CORPORATE COLLECTORS SHOW 

Moving Horizons: The UBS Art Collection 1960s to the present day, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, 29 September – 4 November 2008

 
The UBS Art Collection embodies four decades of collecting, from the 1970s to the present day. Most of the works from the 1960s-1980s were assembled for an American investment company, PaineWebber, which was acquired by UBS in 2000. These works joined the artworks that UBS had been collecting for its sites across Europe to form what is today The UBS Art Collection.

Change in collecting pattern: local to global

The Collection reflects the change in collecting from local to global, from a world in which most artists lived in the country where they were born and the art market was led by New York City, to a world in which artists migrate or divide their time between continents, and the art market has multiple centres across the globe. The Collection also reflects the change in visual arts practice from one that was prescribed by movements to one that is diverse and fluid.

1960s: pop art

This exhibition of approximately 150 works demonstrates these changes. Beginning with a large group of Pop Art prints and drawings by artists including Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol and Edward Ruscha, the exhibition then presents a group of prints and drawings by Minimalist artists such as Ellsworth Kelly and Frank Stella.

1970s: conceptual art

The 1970s ushered in a quieter conceptual aesthetic, represented in the exhibition by Vija Celmins and, although very different, Alighiero e Boetti. Here too is Chuck Close, who used a structure of grids and symbols in his multiple series of portraits.

1980s: explosion of figurate painting

Then came the explosion of highly expressive figurate painting in the 1980s. Reacting against the performance-based and ephemeral conceptual practice of the 70s, these paintings and drawings often contained personal metaphors to reflect the lives of their makers. In Italy Sandra Chia, Francesco Clemente, Enzo Cucchi and Mimmo Paladino were grouped under the banner of Transavantguardia. In Germany Neo-Expressionists such as Georg Baselitz had an influence on the younger sculptor Stephan Balkenhol, included here, and painters such as Eric Fischl, Susan Rothenberg, David Salle and Julian Schnabel received wide acclaim in the United States. The British artist Lucian Freud had consistently focused on figurative painting since the 1940s, but didn’t receive international attention until the 1980s, the decade marked by this “return to painting’. He is represented in the exhibition by both paintings and prints.

1990s: photography and YBAs

In the 1990s photography was a critical medium, used to record the physical world with apparent objectivity by artists such as Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff, Peter Fischli/David Weiss, Candida Höfer and Beat Streuli. The ’90s was also the decade of the much fêted ‘YBAs’, the group of young and savvy British artists represented here by Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Gary Hume and one of their mentors, Michael Craig-Martin.

2000 on: global diversity, migration and video

By 2000 thriving markets were by now established across the globe – from Mexico City to Mumbai, from Berlin to Shanghai. Biennials and triennials in Brisbane, Yokohama, Istanbul, Sarjah, São Paulo and Singapore, to name a few, had shifted and expanded loci of interest, and The UBS Art Collection now hopes to mirror this diversity and expand the possibilities for displaying art in its corporate environment with the acquisition of video in particular.

Navin Rawanchaikul

Navin Rawanchaikul

The final part of the exhibition includes large-scale photo-based installations by American artist Susan Hiller and Chinese artist Xu Zhen as well as videos by Chinese artists Qiu Anxiong and Cao Fei, as well as Chen Chieh-jen from Taipeii, Navin Rawanchaikul from Thailand, Adrian Paci from Albania and Oscar Muñoz from Colombia. Their work addresses political concerns pertinent to their own experiences, but relevant across the world, issues of rapid industrialization, migration, memories of painful pasts and hopes for brighter futures.

Joanne Bernstein, Curator, The UBS Art Collection, May 2008

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