Archive for January, 2013

A Potent Force: Hu Xiaoyuan and Duan Jianyu

A Potent Force: Duan Jianyu and Hu Xiaoyuan
Jan 26, 2013 - Mar 31, 2013
At Rockbund Art Museum
Curated by Karen Smith

Rockbund Art Museum will present a duo show A Potent Force from Jan. 26th to Mar. 31st, 2013. A Potent Force brings together the work of two strongly individual Chinese artists, Duan Jianyu and Hu Xiaoyuan, both of whom happen to be female. The distinct sensibilities that they each bring to their art are an amalgam of their respective life experiences, of the incidental features of their personal background and the environs in which they grew up, and of the aspirations of their respective generations: Duan Jianyu was born in 1970 and graduated in 1995 from the oil painting department of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts; Hu Xiaoyuan was born 1977 and graduatedin 2002 from the design department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts.

If these two artists have anything in common beyond their gender, it is how society views them as women and, as a result, what the art world expects from them. The different ways in which they navigate these issues is evident in their work, and by means of two entirely unrelated approaches to artistic expression. Duan Jianyu is one of the finest painters at work in China today, with a visual vocabulary that appears at first as simple as child’s play and, yet, is a highly sophisticated mechanism for capturing her perceptive observations of the world.
Hu Xiaoyuan works with a range of mediums with a particular strength in video, which she deploys as a sensual experience for the viewer, providing the maximum emotive force via a minimum of factual information to draw upon. An encounter with the work of each of these artists engages viewers on a direct and subconscious level and, at the same time, provides a great many ideas to contemplate.

Duan Jianyu’s painting centres on its own universe as created by the artist herself, articulated in a language that parallels a ‘secret emotional code’. This is done using motifs familiar to viewers from any geographical or cultural background, but that combine to form a vernacular that is elegantly “Chinese”, and very much about life in the present tense. Duan Jianyu demonstrates a profound grasp of social realism through personal writings that function as a vast resource of inspiration for her paintings. Social, humanistic affairs unfold in the paintings and are linked by a poetic title given to the various series to which the individual paintings belong. These titles are deceptively romantic; The Mountain and Water Always Echo Our Love, or Going Home. They are also distinctly humorous; How to Travel with a Watermelon, Yes or You Are Welcome. This aura is accentuated in images of animals, particularly chickens, PLA soldiers, air-hostesses, blissful countryside vistas and still-lifes. The narratives that are undercurrents in the paintings interweave places, environments and physical and social character types from composition to composition on a variety of scale and of painterly mannerism. There is always more than meets the eye in Duan Jianyu’s paintings. Whilst every element she presents is recognisably real, the juxtaposition of individual parts is such that in this world of fantasy we become sharply aware that truth can be stranger than fiction. They also affirm the working of a vivid and articulate imagination. As the artist says ‘Imagination is the lubricant of everything’.


As a title, the phrase A Potent Force makes reference to the subtle, lyrical (Duan Jianyu) and introspective (Hu Xiaoyuan), intellectual prowess that characterises these conceptual plays with painting and video works. There is a socio-cultural shift in the generational gap that separates them, which is reflected in the topics they explore as well as the mediums chosen to express these. If a particular concern for Duan Jianyu is the complexity of human society, its bubbling desires, grand ambitions, lofty ideals and the innate weaknesses that are so often its failings, conversely, for Hu Xiaoyuan, art is a means to examine the self, as a purposeful sentient being; as the raison d’être for existence, for if there is no reason then existence becomes a nihilistic, futile void. Hu Xiaoyuan’s formative experiences were more or less devoid of “politics” in the ideological sense, but overrun with the politics of economy and internationalism that governed China’s “peaceful rise” to its present international status. Her generation is, courtesy of the internet as an information platform and the ease of travel, more widely versed in the ways of the international world than her elder peers. She is, as a child of the reform era, precious, precocious, confident and slightly insecure, yet independent in thought and will. Comfortable with her individualism, Hu Xiaoyuan finds reason to challenge the notion of art in China today, as a value system, as a process of visually interpreting the world and as a material object. Recent video installations increasingly undermine the process of reading the works: What we, as viewers, see is not clear in terms of narrative or form. Hu Xiaoyuan asks that we become aware of looking and does so by making it as hard as possible to recognise the work’s content. Her works focuses on what can be done and experienced within the sphere of the self, relying on one’s own sense alone to navigate and understand what is seen and felt of the world.


The art of Duan Jianyu and Hu Xiaoyuan lie at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. A Potent Force, therefore, is not a show about women artists: whilst in one sense the title alludes to the situation of women artists in the art world today, it points more directly to the succinct meaning and enduring resonance of the art of these two artists, Duan Jianyu and Hu Xiaoyuan.


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Spit Gold Under An Empire

A Bespoke Edit of Emily Kai Bock's Cutting-Edge Documentary on NYC’s Rap Underground.
Click here to view Spit Gold Under an Empire in full.  

Read more…


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MA QIUSHA at Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester, UK.
Date & Time: 2013.01.17 - 3.2
Venue:Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester, UK

Born in the ‘80s, Ma Qiusha is an up-and-coming artist living in Beijing, China. For her first UK solo exhibition with Chinese Arts Centre, the artist will showcase her key works to date, using the repeated motif of the blade or razor as a curatorial focal point.
Ma Qiusha’s work reflects a special sensitivity with ordinary everyday objects and materials. She carefully re-stages them in unfamiliar environments to tell a story or express suppressed emotions. Mainly working with video and painting, at first glance her work is calm and expressionless. Only if you spend a certain amount of time to read through the work, will the underlying story and emotion slowly reveal itself.
Ma Qiusha often uses parts of the body or a simple physical action to represent a greater psychological pain. In her most famous work, From No.4 Pingyuanli to No.4 Tianqiaobeili she places a razor in her mouth whilst telling a monologue of her childhood art experiences. At the end of the video, she removes the razor blade from her mouth to reveal to the viewer. This symbolic action reveals her feeling of the unbearable love from her parents. This love, in the artist’s eyes, is often fraught with pain.

Beijing Commune invites you to MA QIUSHA's solo exhibition "MA QIUSHA" at Chinese Arts Centre in the UK.
艺术家 Artist:  马秋莎  Ma Qiusha
开    幕 Opening:  5:30-7:30pm  1. 17. 2013
展   期 Exhibition Dates:   1.18 - 3. 2. 2012
地 址Venue :  英国曼彻斯特华人艺术中心 Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester, UK
“出生在北京的马秋莎是目前中国十分活跃的一位80 后艺术家。在华人艺术中心的这次展览是马秋莎在英国的第一个个展。
Similarly to From No.4 Pingyuanli to No.4 Tianqiaobeili, Ma Qiusha’s video piece All My Sharpness Comes From Your Hardness shows the artist as the subject matter. She wears a pair of ice skate boots which the audience follows on the screen, as they move along a city road scratching their way along the concrete floor. The artist is forcing herself and the viewer into a highly sensory and uncomfortable situation yet the appealingly effortless movement of the ice skates keep the viewer entranced with the moving image put before them.
Windows are another common motif in Ma Qiusha’s work. She sees them symbolically as a barrier, but at the same time a channel to understand the outside world. One particular series of works, Fog is an on-going project for her. Working with the curtain material often found across the windows her home in Beijing, Ma Qiusha transforms the light opaque fabric into something much darker. On first glance the work appears to be a single black painting with a harsh white mark scratched out from it, but on closer inspection the original delicate material and floral patterns of the curtain appear through the black paint. This contrast between the delicate and domesticated with the harsh sharpness of the black and white markings echo the ideas of Ma Qiusha’s work beautifully.
Two years younger than me is a work created using found objects from her grandfather’s household. Ma Qiusha’s grandfather had a particular habit of saving his beard shavings each time he shaved. Bottled like specimens and exhibited in order of their years the work represents a personal memory of her Uncle and physical passing of time.
Ma Qiusha graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts (BA) and the Alfred University (MFA). Her works have been widely exhibited nationally and internationally. In 2009, she had a solo exhibition in Beijing Commune and received widespread attention, important group shows including Soft Machines (2011) at The Pace Gallery, New York, Media Landscape-Zone East (2010) at Contemporary Urban Centre, Liverpool Biennial, Move on Asia 2010 at Loop Gallery, South Korea


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January 13th through April 14th, 2013
Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing

Curated by Bao Dong and Sun Dongdong

“Since its founding in 2007, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art has been a passionate platform for presenting the freshest artistic voices in China, and for placing them into the twin contexts of Chinese art history and the international conversation around contemporary art,” said UCCA director Philip Tinari. “We are extremely excited to mount an exhibition that will showcase the wide range and high caliber of work being made in China today.”

Participating artists: Birdhead, Chen Wei, Chen Yujun + Chen Yufan, Chen Zhe, Chen Zhou, Cheng Ran, Fang Lu, Ge Lei, Gong Jian + Li Jinghu, Guo Hongwei, He Xiangyu, Hu Xiangqian, Hu Xiaoyuan, Huang Ran, Jiang Pengyi, Jin Shan, Lee Fuchun, Li Liao, Li Ming, Li Ran, Li Shurui, Liang Yuanwei, Liu Chuang, Liu Xinyi, Lu Yang, Ma Qiusha, Qiu Xiaofei, Shang Yixin, Shi Wanwan, Song Ta, Song Yuanyuan, Sun Xun, Tang Dixin, Wang Guangle, Wang Sishun, Wang Yuyang, Wen Ling, Wu Junyong, Xie Molin, Xin Yunpeng, Xu Qu, Xu Zhe, Yan Xing, Yang Jian, Yang Xinguang, Zhang Ding, Zhang Liaoyuan, Zhao Yao, Zhao Zhao, Zhou Tao.
Chen Wei, Cheng Ran, Guo Hongwei, and Liu Chuang, Artists from Leo Xu Projects present their new works


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Survivors’ Hunting by Guan Xiao

Survivors’ Hunting by Guan Xiao at Magician Space Beijing

Date: Jan. 12 – Mar. 24, 2013

In this era of the new media, information is presented to us multi-dimensionally. Everything is potential material to be read and processed – the key to digesting knowledge depends on how we program choices.

Guan Xiao has a unique judgment and control with her use of materials. She has the ability to employ extreme visual language as a method of conveying conceptions artistically, and through her practice, presenting her vibrant individuality to her audience to its fullest.

In Survivors’ Hunting, the artist takes on the role of a collector and projects the mind in the form of a hunting ground. All works presented are the result of her hunt and at the same time a hunting target for the audience. Guan Xiao employs a collage method to interweave different knowledge systems, presenting the artist’s own process of thinking and her understanding of the “ways of seeing”. She aims to engage the audience in reading with both visual language and linguistics simultaneously, thereby renewing the way they see and think.


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