Posts Tagged ‘Chinese art

17
Jan
20

Review: ‘Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China’ at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 22nd June 2019 – 27th January 2020

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

 

Writing the body politic / broken

Ho hum, ho hum.

The exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria is an extension of the 2008 exhibition Body Language: Contemporary Chinese Photography with many of the same photographs being shown again, with new additions to the collection.

Nothing much seems to have changed in the last 12 years. Contemporary Chinese photography still concentrates on limited narratives based around the performing body, the body positioned in time and space in relation to history, memory, tradition, culture and consumerism. What the “turning points” are in the title of this exhibition remains unclear. Turning points for who? The art, the artists, the stories they tell, or the restrictive nature of contemporary Chinese culture.

Certain things remain constant: an emphasis on the performing body, (its) theatrical style, (in) elaborate tableaux, contemporary consumer society, urban reconstruction, and tradition and change. The body is usually isolated against contextless backgrounds, free floating, paired with a rather stilted iconography derived from Chinese culture – coins, calligraphy, statues, spirits, tattoos as traditional historical painting, calligraphy, buildings, revolution – focusing on “the dismantling of tradition during a period of rampant consumerism and modernisation.”

Even while these artists apparently possess, “an urgent desire to explore individual and social identity in a time of unprecedented change … that reflect the tensions in Chinese society as the processes of social change meet traditional culture and expectations head-on”, no/body mentions the elephant in the room – the repressive and aggressive nature of the Chinese government, it’s suppression of dissent both internally and externally, its appalling human rights record and its expansionist policy in the South China Sea. The paradox is that while, “Hai Bo’s paired portraits illustrate the cultural shifts that have occurred over forty years as people in China have become increasingly able to show their individuality”, that individuality is closely controlled by the State. Step out of line, as many artists have found to their peril, and you are soon done for.

No mention here of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, the current democracy protests in Hong Kong, or the recently released report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) which contains a damning essay on China’s “global threat” to human rights. No other government “flexes its political muscles with such vigour and determination to undermine the international human rights standards and institutions that could hold it to account.” The HRW report cites a slew of violations ranging from the mass detention of Uyghur Muslims in the far-western autonomous region of Xinjiang, to increased censorship, to the use of technologies for mass surveillance and social control. Nothing to see here!

The work of most of the artists in this exhibition seems insular, inward looking – chained to the country’s past and present, memory and history, culture and its re/constitution. Addressing its constitution through supplication. Addressing the representation of institutional power in socialist regimes through images with heroic overtones. It’s almost as if these artists are painting symbols, painting a monosyllabic mythology of how their country was and is now with no turning point in sight. Parsing on ancient and modern to no great effect.

The only two artists who really lay it on the line, who confront the dragon, are Rong Rong’s photographs of a performance by artist Zhang Huan titled 12 square metres (1994, below) in which the artist sat naked, smeared in honey and fish oil in a local public toilet for an hour before cleansing himself in a polluted pond; and Sheng Qi’s Memories (Mother), Memories (Me) and Memories (Mao) (2000, below) in which the artist was deeply affected by the changed political climate following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and uses his disfigurement “as the backdrop for a series of self-portraits that juxtapose his past and present.”

These are the photographs that I will remember. The others, stolid, prosaic, are lost.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to the National Gallery of Victoria for allowing me to publish the images in the posting. All installation images are by Dr Marcus Bunyan and proceed in a clockwise direction around the exhibition. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing Cang Xin (Chinese, b. 1967) Six photographs from the Communication series (1996-2006)

 

Cang Xin (Chinese, 1967) 'Communication' 1996-2006ommunication 1999-b

 

Cang Xin (Chinese, 1967)
Communication
1996-2006
Type C photograph ed. 10/10
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
© Courtesy of the artist

 

Cang Xin (Chinese, 1967) 'Communication' 1996-2006ommunication 1999-b

 

Cang Xin (Chinese, 1967)
Communication
1996-2006
Type C photograph ed. 10/10
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

Cang Xin is a celebrated performance artist who uses photography as an adjunct to his practice. In these photographs he is documenting a ritualistic performance in which he licks various objects that have a symbolic resonance for him. Each object has a link to China and its history, although those meanings remain intentionally obscured and subjective. The artist literally experiences the objects through a sense of taste and a physical action; the intimate act of licking becomes a gesture of communication or communion with the past.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing at left, Qiu Zhijie (Chinese, b. 1969) Tattoo no. 7 (1994); at second left, Rong Rong (Chinese, b. 1968) East Village Beijing no. 15 (1994); and at middle right, Zhang Huan (Chinese, b. 1965) Shanghai family tree (2001)

 

Qiu Zhijie (Chinese, b. 1969) 'Tattoo no. 7' 1994

 

Qiu Zhijie (Chinese, b. 1969)
Tattoo no. 7
1994
From the Tattoo series 1994
Type C photograph, ed. 8/10
101.6 x 76.2 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

In his Tattoo series, Qui Zhijie overlays self-portraits with drawings, images and objects, such as the coins shown here. Discussing this series, he writes, ‘The Tattoo series focuses on the problematic relationship between an image and its background … In this series the two find common ground. The substance of the subject, the weight of the person, and the physicality of the figure all dissolve … This series is a response to the futility and drowning of the individual brought about by the onslaught of the Chinese media culture which began to develop during the 1990s’.

 

Rong Rong (Chinese, b. 1968) 'East Village Beijing no. 15' 1994

 

Rong Rong (Chinese, b. 1968)
East Village Beijing no. 15
1994
Gelatin silver photograph, coloured dyes
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016

 

 

Rong Rong is well known for his images that show the lives and activities of the avant-garde Beijing East Village artistic community during the 1990s. This photograph is one of a series created to document a famous performance by fellow artist Zhang Huan, during which Zhang covered his naked body with honey and fish oil and sat on a stool in a public toilet, allowing flies to swarm over his body. Rong Rong’s photographs, made throughout the performance, form a crucial record of this performative action that was intended to comment on the squalid conditions in which the artists were living.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation views of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing Zhang Huan (Chinese, b. 1965) Shanghai family tree (2001)

 

Zhang Huan (Chinese, b. 1965) 'Shanghai family tree' 2001

 

Zhang Huan (Chinese, b. 1965)
Shanghai family tree
2001
Type C photographs ed. 25/25
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds donated by Jason Yeap and Min Lee Wong, 2008
© Zhang Huan Studio

 

 

The faces of the two young men and the young woman in Zhang Huan’s suite of nine photographs are used like the blank pages in a book carrying an increasingly oppressive weight of words. The Chinese characters inscribed on their faces gradually obliterate their features and identities. In the final photograph, the trio are shown in front of a new housing development in Shanghai. Their features are totally obscured, suggesting a parallel between the loss of personal identity and the rapid pace of development that is rendering the city unrecognisable.

In 1999 the internationally renowned Chinese performance and video artist, sculptor and photographer Zhang Huan wrote of his distinctive approach to his practice: ‘The body is the only direct way through which I come to know society and society comes to know me. The body is proof of identity. The body is language’. The complex tangle of history and tradition that can override the individual appears as a theme in much of Zhang Huan’s avant-garde performances and photographs and, as seen in this work, is frequently expressed through the use of language. In Shanghai family tree Zhang Huan (to the left) poses with a man and woman, their faces becoming increasingly obscured by Chinese characters. This work seems to suggest the importance of language which, while it can overwhelm the individual, undoubtedly also helps define a person’s relationship to society.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation views of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing two photographs from Zhuang Hui’s One and Thirty series (1996)

 

Zhuang Hui (Chinese, b. 1963) 'Untitled' 1996

 

Zhuang Hui (Chinese, b. 1963)
Untitled
1996
From the One and Thirty
Type C photograph, ed. 3/3
61.0 x 51.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh in honour of Tony Ellwood, Director NGV, 2018
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

The series title of these photographs, One and Thirty, is didactic. There are ‘thirty’ portraits in the sequence and ‘one’ figure who appears in each image, the ever-smiling figure of the artist. Each photograph shows Zhuang Hui posed with an individual he has selected as the representative of a particular vocational or social group. In one of the works shown here Zhuang is photographed seated beside an older man holding a baby on his knee, a classic doting grandfather; in the other image he is photographed with a smartly dressed, young professional woman.

 

Wang Qingsong (Chinese, b. 1966) 'Standard family' 1996

 

Wang Qingsong (Chinese, b. 1966)
Standard family
1996
Type C photograph, ed. 8/30
48.2 x 124.4 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2017
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

Wang Jinsong’s Standard family project investigates contemporary Chinese culture and the effects of the one-child policy, which was introduced in China in the 1970s as a means of curbing population growth. Without any clear agenda or critical stance, Wang invited families to participate in photo shoots where the parents invariably elected to pose flanking their lone child. When the images are repeated and presented in a grid, the ‘standard’ nature of the family unit becomes evident, allowing for a reading of generic poses and expressions across the various families, and inviting speculation and commentary on the effects of collectivism when imposed on social structures.

 

Wang Qingsong (Chinese, b. 1966) 'Standard family' 1996 (detail)

 

Wang Qingsong (Chinese, b. 1966)
Standard family (detail)
1996
Type C photograph, ed. 8/30
48.2 x 124.4 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2017
© Courtesy of the artist

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation views of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing Qiu Zhijie’s Standard Pose series (1996-98)

 

Qiu Zhijie (Chinese b. 1969) 'Fine series A' 1996-98

 

Qiu Zhijie (Chinese b. 1969)
Fine series A
1996-98
From the Standard Pose series 1996-98
Type C photograph, ed. 9/10
58.0 x 61.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

In common with many photographers working in China in the 1990s, Qiu Zhijie uses the performing body in his images. Throughout his career he has combined performance, video and photography to create works that explore ideas of history, individuality and identity in contemporary China. The four photographs from the Standard Pose series reference propaganda images produced during the Cultural Revolution and consider the failure of the future that they promised. Photographed in a simple studio setting and wearing contemporary clothes, the models, with their overly dramatic poses and facial expressions, appear comical rather than heroic.

 

Qiu Zhijie (Chinese b. 1969) 'Fine series C' 1996-98

 

Qiu Zhijie (Chinese b. 1969)
Fine series C
1996-98
From the Standard Pose series 1996-98
Type C photograph, ed. 9/10
58.0 x 61.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

Qiu Zhijie (Chinese b. 1969) 'Fine series D' 1996-98

 

Qiu Zhijie (Chinese b. 1969)
Fine series D
1996-98
From the Standard Pose series 1996-98
Type C photograph, ed. 9/10
58.0 x 61.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China explores the work of established and emerging photo-artists working in a time of rapid social and economic change.

In the 1990s, Chinese photography became one of the most dynamic and exciting areas in contemporary international art. Artists in China increasingly began to use photography to not only to document their lives but to question and challenge the status quo. The ‘first generation’ of contemporary Chinese artists included here – those born in the 1960s – examined the societal impact of the Cultural Revolution, and reflected on their own and their families’ personal experiences. The next generation of photographers, born in the 1980s and later, bring not only different life experience, having come of age in the twenty-first century, but are actively engaged with the global community in ways that were not possible in previous decades.

The works included in this exhibition offer commentaries on individuality and identity, cultural change, the transformation of Chinese cities, and the impact of consumerism and globalisation on contemporary society.

The National Gallery of Victoria began to collect contemporary Chinese photography in 2004, and in 2008 presented the exhibition Body Language: Contemporary Chinese Photography. Since that time the Gallery has continued to build this aspect of the collection.

More recently, in 2016 and 2017, the NGV photography collection was transformed through the generosity of Larry Warsh. An American collector, publisher and founder of AW Asia, a private organisation and exhibition space in New York, Warsh presented a suite of twenty-nine contemporary Chinese photographs as a gift to the Gallery. His donation comprises works by some of the most important Chinese photographic artists working in the 1990s and early 2000s, including Hong Lei, Rong Rong and Wang Qingsong. Warsh’s presentation effectively doubled the NGV’s holdings of contemporary Chinese photography, and this exhibition, which includes a number of works from this important gift, was made possible because of his generosity.

Text from the National Gallery of Victoria website [Online] Cited 23/12/2019

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing at left, Wang Qingsong’s City walls (2002); at second left bottom Zhang Dali 2001 42A (2001) from the Demolition and Dialogue series; at centre, Chi Peng’s Apollo in transit (2005); at centre right, Yang Yongliang’s Eclipse (2008); and at right Huang Yan’s Chinese landscape – Tattoo (1999)

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation views of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing Wang Qingsong’s City walls (2002)

 

 

Wang Jinsong’s photograph shows aspects of the architecture and history of Beijing, drawing attention to the abandonment of time-honoured buildings, homes and ways of living. City walls comprises a grid of 360 images of buildings in Beijing. The great majority of the photographs are of generic concrete constructions, printed in a grey monotone. Interspersed among these are richly coloured images showing traditional architecture. The placement of the photographs in a grid creates an immediate visual link to the idiosyncratic brick construction of the older buildings, which are rapidly being replaced by new, uniform reinforced concrete structures.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation views of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing at top, Weng Fen’s On the wall: Guangzhou (4) (2002) and at bottom, Zhang Dali’s 2001 42A (2001)

 

Zhang Dali (Chinese, b. 1963) '2001 42A' 2001

 

Zhang Dali (Chinese, b. 1963)
2001 42A
2001
from the Demolition and dialogue series
type C photograph
63.5 × 114.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

This photograph, showing a partially demolished wall emblazoned with a large-scale painted outline of the artist’s head and his pseudonym, AK-47, brings together several aspects of the practice of multidisciplinary artist Zhang Dali. Zhang went into self-imposed exile from China in 1989 and when he returned to Beijing six years later, he found his home was in the midst of rapid change. Zhang wanted to protest the loss of traditional buildings, document the ruined remnants before they were swept away, and convey his sense of the loss of history and identity that was a consequence of those changes.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation views of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing Chi Peng’s Apollo in transit (2005)

 

 

Chi Peng’s works often contain naked figures spiriting or running through ‘history’, while refusing any start or ending of their visual narrative. Unravelling like a traditional Chinese scroll, the red brick wall surrounding the Forbidden City extends the length of this digitally altered panoramic image. The artist has inserted repeat images of himself running left to right alongside the wall, in front of a variety of onlookers. A metaphor for East / West relations, this theatrical image brings together potent symbols of traditional and contemporary life in China.

 

Yongliang Yang (Chinese, b. 1980) 'Eclipse' 2008

 

Yongliang Yang (Chinese, b. 1980)
Eclipse
2008
From the On the quiet water, heavenly city series 2008
Inkjet print 73.0 x 200.0 cm (image) 81.6 x 208.2 cm (sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by the Mering Corporation Pty Ltd through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2012
© Yang Yongliang

 

Yongliang Yang (Chinese, b. 1980) 'Eclipse' 2008 (detail)

 

Yongliang Yang (Chinese, b. 1980)
Eclipse (detail)
2008
From the On the quiet water, heavenly city series 2008
Inkjet print 73.0 x 200.0 cm (image) 81.6 x 208.2 cm (sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by the Mering Corporation Pty Ltd through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2012
© Yang Yongliang

 

 

Yang Yongliang creates an optical illusion by combining elements of a traditional Chinese shānshuǐ (mountain-water) landscape painting with imagery from modern Shanghai life. From afar, the work appears to be a watercolour on paper, representing misty mountains and an ethereal sea stretching to the horizon. Upon closer inspection, the ghostly formations are revealed as digitally constructed collages of apartment blocks, buildings, construction sites and giant cranes. The built metropolis becomes indistinguishable from the natural landscape, highlighting the insidious modernisation, construction and environmental degradation characteristic of contemporary existence.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation views of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing Huang Yan’s Chinese landscape – Tattoo No. 4 and Chinese landscape – Tattoo No. 1 (1999)

 

Huang Yan (Chinese, b. 1966) 'Chinese landscape - Tattoo (Number 1)' 1999, printed 2004

 

Huang Yan (Chinese, b. 1966)
Chinese landscape – Tattoo (Number 1)
1999, printed 2004
Type C photograph, ed. 2/12
80.1 x 108.0 cm irreg. (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 2004
© Huang Yan, courtesy of Red Gate Gallery, Beijing

 

 

Prior to commencing his photography practice in the 1990s, Huang Yan trained as a painter. His recent work combines the centuries-old, traditional style of landscape painting with new technology; the images are contemporary while also affirming traditional Chinese culture and values. The artist alludes to complex traditions in this ‘self-portrait’ in which his bare chest is painted with a traditional shānshuǐ (mountain-water) landscape painting. The title of the work implies permanence, yet the scenes painted on the body are ephemeral, suggesting the fragility of the natural environment and the transience of the body.

 

Hong Lei (Chinese, b. 1960) 'After Zhao Ji's loquat and birds (Song dynasty)' 1999

 

Hong Lei (Chinese, b. 1960)
After Zhao Ji’s loquat and birds (Song dynasty)
1999
Type C photograph, ed. 9/10
60.9 x 76.2 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

Hong Lei (Chinese, b. 1960) 'Autumn in the Forbidden City' 1998

 

Hong Lei (Chinese, b. 1960)
Autumn in the Forbidden City
1998
Type C photograph, ed. 7/10
60.9 x 76.2 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing at centre, Wang Qingsong’s Preincarnation (2002) and at right, Shi Guowei’s Cactus garden (2016)

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing one image from Wang Qingsong’s Preincarnation (2002)

 

 

Wang Qingsong works in a theatrical style, constructing and photographing elaborate tableaux in which his models play the roles of characters from traditional Chinese stories and paintings, popular culture and Western historical painting. In the foreground of this work, men carry tools to vandalise or disassemble giant sacred ‘sculptures’ standing atop lotus thrones. The title suggests that the man has been reborn into the past, and upon arriving in Chinese pre-history, is set to destroy it in his relentless pursuit of materialism. This work alludes to China’s relationship with its early history, and the dismantling of tradition during a period of rampant consumerism and modernisation.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing Shi Guowei’s Cactus garden (2016)

 

Shi Guowei (Chinese, b. 1977) 'Cactus garden' 2016

 

Shi Guowei (Chinese, b. 1977)
Cactus garden
2016
Gelatin silver photograph, colour dyes
Purchased NGV Foundation, 2017

 

 

Shi Guowei’s subtly coloured image is created through the application of layered pigment to the surface of the photograph. In some areas of the work, the colour is applied with lifelike precision, in others it registers as being ‘not quite right’. His palette recalls that of early colour photographs in which the colour fades or shifts over time, creating a nostalgic quality; however, it also creates an awareness of the artificiality inherent in the scene. Although the planting in this cactus garden is ‘naturalistic’, it is clearly a constructed landscape, and not the wild arid landscape it would seem at first glance.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing at top, Sheng Qi’s Memories (Mother), Memories (Me) and Memories (Mao) (2000)

 

 

Sheng Qi was a key member of the ’85 New Wave art movement in China that championed freedom of expression in the arts over state-approved Social Realism. He was deeply affected by the changed political climate following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, and responded in a physically direct and shocking way. He cut off the little finger of his left hand, buried it in a flowerpot, and went into self-imposed exile in Rome. When he returned to Beijing a decade later, he used his disfigured hand as the backdrop for a series of self-portraits that juxtapose his past and present.

 

Sheng Qi (Chinese, b. 1965) 'Memories (Me)' 2000, printed 2004

 

Sheng Qi (Chinese, b. 1965)
Memories (Me)
2000, printed 2004
Type C photograph, ed. 2/5
119.1 x 80.5 cm irreg. (image) 126.9 x 86.9 cm irreg. (sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 2004
© Sheng Qi, courtesy of Red Gate Gallery, Beijing

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing at left, Wang Qingsong’s Another battle no. 3 (2001) and at right, Hong Hao’s My things no. 2 (2001-02)

 

Zhuang Hui (Chinese, b. 1963) 'Untitled' 1996

 

Wang Qingsong (Chinese, b. 1966)
Another battle no. 3
2001
Type C photograph, ed. 1/20
100.0 x 66.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Wang Qingsong

 

 

Wang Qingsong works in a theatrical style, constructing and photographing elaborate tableaux in which his models play the roles of characters from traditional Chinese stories and paintings, contemporary life, popular culture, and Western historical painting. In this work he shows a wounded soldier, trapped behind the battlelines, caught between gunfire and razor wire that is littered with soft-drink cans, one of the most common forms of litter found globally. In this highly theatrical image Wang has taken imagery from popular cinema and used it to highlight the challenges presented by Western-style consumerism.

 

Hong Hao (Chinese, b. 1965) 'My things no. 2' 2001-02

 

Hong Hao (Chinese, b. 1965)
My things no. 2
2001-02
Type C photograph, ed. 6/15
59.6 x 101.6 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

Completely filled from edge to edge with ordinary, domestic objects, this image is a visual archive of things used by the artist in everyday life. Describing his creative process, Hong Hao writes, ‘Day by day, I put my daily consumed objects into a scanner piece by piece, like keeping a visual diary. After scanning the original objects, I’ll save them in digital forms and categorise these digital files into different folders [on] my PC, in order to make a collage of them later on. This task, like a yogi’s daily practice, has become a habit in my day-to-day life as well as a tool to observe the human condition in contemporary consumer society’.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing Wang Jinsong’s One hundred signs of demolition #1980 (1998)

 

Wang Jinsong (Chinese, 1963) 'One hundred signs of demolition #1980' 1998

 

Wang Jinsong (Chinese, 1963)
One hundred signs of demolition #1980
1998
Type C photograph ed. 22/30
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

Wang Jinsong (Chinese, 1963) 'One hundred signs of demolition #1995' 1998

 

Wang Jinsong (Chinese, 1963)
One hundred signs of demolition #1995
1998
Type C photograph ed. 22/30
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

The two photographs from the series One Hundred Signs of Demolition show the Chinese character ‘chai’, meaning ‘demolition’, that is commonly painted on the walls of buildings earmarked for destruction. For Wang Jinsong it has become a symbol of the inexorable push for urban reconstruction. In his photographs ‘chai’ came to stand for the loss of the ancient city, where buildings were once on a domestic scale and constructed to facilitate interaction in communal space, and their replacement with more socially isolating multistorey tower blocks.

 

Wang Qingsong (Chinese, b. 1966) 'Last supper' 1997

 

Wang Qingsong (Chinese, b. 1966)
Last supper
1997
Type C photograph, ed. 3/20
30.5 x 100.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

Last supper was one of a number of photographs commissioned for the exhibition Christian Dior and Chinese Artists that opened at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), Beijing, in 2008. The work references the iconography of Western paintings of Christian subjects, in particular depictions of the Last Supper; however, in place of the twelve disciples Wang presents fashion models, and the simple meal traditionally depicted in Western art has been replaced with a feast of digitally enhanced, oversized, unnaturally perfect fruit and vegetables. The result is an image of affluence and excess.

 

Hai Bo (Chinese, b. 1962) 'I am Chairman Mao's Red Guard' 2000

 

Hai Bo (Chinese, b. 1962)
I am Chairman Mao’s Red Guard
2000
Type C photograph, ed. 9/18
40.6 x 60.9 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

Hai Bo’s paired portraits illustrate the cultural shifts that have occurred over forty years as people in China have become increasingly able to show their individuality. In this image, a photograph of a young woman proudly wearing the uniform of the student paramilitary movement, known as the Red Guard, and holding Mao’s Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (commonly known as the Little Red Book) is shown counterpointed by a contemporary picture of the same person, now a smiling middle-aged woman wearing a floral dress. Such a garment would have been unthinkable – and unattainable – forty years earlier.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing Hai Bo’s Wood horse (1999)

 

Hai Bo (Chinese, 1962) 'Wood horse' 1999

 

Hai Bo (Chinese, 1962)
Wood horse
1999
Gelatin silver photograph ed. 16/20
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

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26
Sep
19

Exhibition: ‘Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality’ at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 24th May – 13th October 2019

 

Censer 灰陶熏炉 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Censer
灰陶熏炉
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Xi’an Museum, Xi’an

 

 

The best thing about this exhibition were the beautiful lidded containers, flasks, everyday vessels and censers; cows, sows, goats, mythical creatures and smaller soldiers. The female attendant was divine.

Other than that I refrain from comment for fear of incriminating myself!

(perhaps a yawn would suffice)

Marcus

 

Many thankx to the National Gallery of Victoria for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. All photographs are iPhone images © Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Epic accounts of China’s ruling dynasties, philosophies, inventions and social customs during ancient times have been passed down through the centuries in the writings of philosophers, imperial scribes and military strategists. However, it was not until archaeologists in the twentieth century unearthed evidence – masterful bronzes, delicately crafted jades and boldly decorated ceramics – that the advanced levels of civilisation, artistry and refined aesthetics that existed in the past were more fully revealed. This provided a greater understanding of the rituals, social customs, preparation for the afterlife and quest for immortality that remained central to Chinese culture.

The greatest discovery of all was in 1974, when local farmers digging an irrigation well in Lintong district, Xi’an, unearthed fragments of the terracotta warriors. With this astounding discovery the legends of ancient China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, were confirmed. In their size and number, the terracotta warriors are unique in world history and signify Qin Shihuang’s quest for immortality, his affiliation with China’s mythical rulers, and his supreme imperial mandate as the son of heaven.

Text from the National Gallery of Victoria website

 

 

Lacquered vessel, Ding 陶胎漆鼎 Warring States period, 475 - 221 BCE

 

Lacquered vessel, Ding
陶胎漆鼎
Warring States period, 475 – 221 BCE
Lacquer on earthenware
Shangluo City Museum, Shangluo

 

Lidded container, He (left) 彩绘陶盒 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

 

Lidded container, He (left)
彩绘陶盒
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Ganquan County Museum, Yan’an

Lidded container, He (right)
彩绘陶盒
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Ganquan County Museum, Yan’an

 

Jar for storing grain (left) 彩绘陶仓 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

 

Jar for storing grain (left)
彩绘陶仓
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Ganquan County Museum, Yan’an

Jar for storing grain (right)
彩绘陶仓
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Ganquan County Museum, Yan’an

 

 

Ceramic ware with boldly painted decoration became widely used as substitutes for bronze vessels during the Qin (221 – 207 BCE) and Han (207 BCE – 220 CE) dynasties. The spontaneous and energetic decoration indicates they were produced in large numbers and therefore affordable to the general public. Vessels like these were used as utensils in daily life as well as modest tomb ware to contain provisions for the afterlife, like grain, wine and other foods. Ceramic ware like water pourers or incense burners also served as affordable utensils used in ceremonies and rituals.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Flask, Hu 彩绘陶壶 Spring and Autumn period, 771 - 475 BCE

 

Flask, Hu
彩绘陶壶
Spring and Autumn period, 771 – 475 BCE
Earthenware, pigments
Longxian County Museum, Baoji

 

 

These Han dynasty ceramic vessels maintain the elegant shapes and decorative features of Zhou dynasty bronze vessels produced 1000 years earlier. Free-flowing painted designs reference nature motifs and auspicious subjects like clouds and dragons. The Four-sided flask displays ringed handles in solid relief on either side in a direct reference to identically shaped bronze vessels from the Zhou dynasty.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Hollow brick with snake and tortoise 玄武纹空心砖 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Hollow brick with snake and tortoise
玄武纹空心砖
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Maoling Museum, Xingping

 

 

The Qin state capital city changed location on numerous occasions before establishing its grandest city and ultimate capital at Xianyang in 350 BCE. Vast palaces were constructed with wooden structures and clay-tiled roofs. Palaces were decorated with magnificent murals that featured geometric and floral designs as well as figures and animals. At the fall of the Qin empire in 207 BCE, the palaces were destroyed, with the grandest of them, Epang Palace, so large it reportedly burned for more than three months. Today, nothing but foundations remain; however, an idea of their grandeur and decoration can be gained from bricks and roof tiles. Four of the bricks display the four protective spirits representing each of the cardinal directions: the turtle (north), dragon (east), vermilion bird (south) and tiger (west).

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Flask, Hu 彩绘陶壶 Spring and Autumn period, 771 - 475 BCE

 

Flask, Hu
彩绘陶壶
Spring and Autumn period, 771 – 475 BCE
Earthenware, pigments
Longxian County Museum, Baoji

 

 

Ritual objects and ancestral treasures

Before the establishment of a nationally unified state by Emperor Qin Shihuang in 221 BCE, China had a long history of opposing kingdoms, self-governing territories and dynasties whose customs, beliefs and refined artisanship influenced the Qin dynasty and its creativity. Family prestige, social harmony and a belief in immortality and the afterlife were central to the creation of auspicious and ceremonial objects used for burial rituals, ancestor worship and encouraging good fortune. This gallery displays some of the most exquisitely crafted of these objects, produced from the beginning of the Zhou dynasty to the end of the Han dynasty (1046 BCE – 220 CE).

Jade was believed to possess magical powers that could maintain the human life force of air or breath after death, and beautifully carved jade objects would often accompany bodies in burial to help purify the deceased’s soul for its journey to the afterlife. Bronze objects with decorative motifs and inscriptions were created to represent a symbolic connection to China’s earliest dynasties and a ‘mandate from heaven’ to rule. Gold is thought to have been introduced to China from Central Asia and was mostly used for decoration on clasps, buckles and ceremonial objects.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Belt plaque 金牌饰 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Belt plaque
金牌饰
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Gold, jade, agate, turquoise
Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Xi’an

 

 

In contrast to jade, which symbolised wealth and spiritual purity, and bronze, used to produce ritual objects, gold was used to a lesser extent and served a primarily decorative purpose. The tradition of using gold for personal adornment is believed to have come to China from Central Asia, and gold became a favoured material from the Spring and Autumn period (771 – 475 BCE) onwards. Objects that represented personal status, such as belt hooks, belt plaques and personal adornments, were usually cast in solid gold and often featured stylised geometric dragon motifs and inlaid semiprecious stones like turquoise and agate.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Door ring holder in the form of a mythological beast, Pushou 四神兽面纹玉铺首 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

Door ring holder in the form of a mythological beast, Pushou 四神兽面纹玉铺首 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

 

Door ring holder in the form of a mythological beast, Pushou
四神兽面纹玉铺首
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Jade
Maoling Museum, Xingping

 

 

This impressive door ring holder (pushou) in the form of a taotie mythological beast mask would support a large ring from its lower section and be positioned in the centre of doors or gateways. Its size is evidence of the grandeur of the palace or mausoleum building it once adorned. Its fierce appearance, with bulging eyes, was believed to ward off evil spirits, and its curling motifs ingeniously incorporate the four protective spirits in each corner. The four holy creatures are (clockwise from top left) the white tiger, the azure dragon, the vermilion bird and the black tortoise.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

 

In a dual presentation of Chinese art and culture past and present, the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series at the National Gallery of Victoria will present China’s ancient Terracotta Warriors alongside a parallel display of new works by one of the world’s most exciting contemporary artists, Cai Guo-Qiang, at NGV International, May 2019.

Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality is a large-scale presentation of the Qin Emperor’s Terracotta Warriors, which, discovered in 1974 in China’s Shaanxi province, are regarded as one of the greatest archaeological finds of the twentieth century and widely described as the eighth wonder of the world. The exhibition will feature eight warrior figures and two life-size horses from the Imperial Army, as well as two half-size replica bronze chariots, each drawn by four horses.

These sculptures will be contextualised by an unprecedented Australian presentation of more than 150 exquisite ancient treasures of Chinese historic art and design lent by leading museums and archaeological sites from across Shaanxi province. These include priceless gold, jade and bronze artefacts that date from the Western Zhou through to the Han dynasties (1046 BC – 220AD). Illuminating more than a millennium of Chinese history, the exhibition will showcase the magnificence and authority of the once-entombed figures and reveal, through the intricate display of accompanying objects and artefacts, the sophistication that characterised the formative years of Chinese civilisation.

Presented in parallel, Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape, will see contemporary artist, Cai Guo-Qiang, create all new art works inspired by his home country’s culture and its enduring philosophical traditions, including a monumental installation of 10,000 suspended porcelain birds. Spiralling over visitors’ heads, the birds create a three-dimensional impression of a calligraphic drawing of the sacred Mount Li, the site of the ancient tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, and his warriors. Cai will collaborate on the exhibition’s design, creating breathtaking immersive environments for the presentation of both his work and the Terracotta Warriors.

Drawing on Cai’s understanding of ancient Chinese culture and his belief that a dialogue with tradition and history can invigorate contemporary art, he will also create a monumental porcelain sculpture of peonies, placed at the centre of a 360-degree gunpowder drawing.

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV said: ‘Thirty-six years ago, in 1982, the National Gallery of Victoria presented the first international exhibition of China’s ancient Terracotta Warriors only several years after their discovery. History will be made again in 2019, when the Qin Emperor’s Terracotta Army will return to the NGV for the 2019 Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition series – this time in a sophisticated dialogue with the work one of China’s most celebrated contemporary artists, Cai Guo-Qiang.’

Of the parallel presentation, Cai said: ‘They are two rivers of time separated by two millennia, each creating a course at their own individual speed across a series of shared galleries. The ancient and the contemporary – two surges of energy that crisscross, pull, interact and complement each other, generating a powerful tension and contrast, each attracting and resisting the other.’

Jeff Xu, Founder and Managing Director, Golden Age Group said: ‘This exhibition will inspire Australian and international audiences to delve deeper into the many rich and diverse facets of China’s heritage. As Principal Partner, Golden Age is pleased to support such an ambitious world-exclusive showing in Victoria,  demonstrating our commitment to Melbourne as the cultural capital. We believe this exhibition will leave a lasting impression on this city for decades to come.’

This exhibition was organised by the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, in partnership with Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau, Shaanxi History Museum, Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre, and Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum of the People’s Republic of China.

Press release from the National Gallery of Victoria [Online] Cited 14/07/2019

 

Armoured general 铠甲将军俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured general 铠甲将军俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured general 铠甲将军俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Armoured general
铠甲将军俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

This general, the largest of the terracotta warriors in the exhibition, has a distinguished beard and moustache and displays a stance of importance. His position of authority is indicated by his headdress, which is the same style as that of the adjacent unarmoured general, and is further enforced by decorative tassels on his chest and back that act as insignias of rank. Generals and other high-ranking officers wore long armoured tunics that tapered from the waist to a triangular shape at the front, protecting their vital organs.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Armoured military officer 中级铠甲军吏俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured military officer 中级铠甲军吏俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured military officer 中级铠甲军吏俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured military officer 中级铠甲军吏俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Armoured military officer
中级铠甲军吏俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

Standing warriors weigh between 150 and 300 kilograms and usually consist of seven different parts: a plinth, feet, legs, torso, arms, hands and head. Clay was kneaded by foot, and the torso section was built up with a coil layering technique. Other parts were created by pressing soft clay into moulds, in a process similar to making roof tiles or drainage pipes. To give each warrior a unique appearance, different moulds were used and the position of fingers and arms was manipulated while the clay was soft. Folds of clothing or armour plates were added to the torso, and head features were developed with additional small pieces of clay to define the cheekbones, chin, ears, nose and hair.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Standing archer 立射俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Standing archer 立射俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Standing archer 立射俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Standing archer
立射俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

The release of energy and sense of movement at the moment of firing an arrow results in archers displaying the most elegant and dramatic stances of all the terracotta warriors. The standing archer’s feet are slightly parted for balance, and he stares intently into the distance as if following the flight of an arrow just released from his bow. Displaying the topknot and braiding of a warrior, he wears a simple gown that allows freedom of movement. When created, the warriors were painted in bright colours and coated with lacquer, but this colouring had mostly been lost by the time of their excavation. New techniques of colour preservation are currently being developed at the terracotta warriors site.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Unarmoured infantryman 战袍武士俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Unarmoured infantryman
战袍武士俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

Unarmoured or light infantrymen are distinguished by their hair gathered in a top knot and their absence of armour. Their simple robes and low-slung belts give them a less military appearance; however, their half-closed right hand would have originally held a sword. We can clearly see that this figure has been reconstructed from many small broken parts. Of more than 2000 warriors unearthed to date, none have been discovered intact. It is speculated that shortly after their completion at the fall of the Qin dynasty, the victorious Han entered the terracotta warriors’ underground passages, smashed the contents and set the wooden passages on fire.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

 

Terracotta warriors

The discovery of the terracotta warriors, one of the most significant archaeological finds of the twentieth century, was made by chance. In March 1974, seeking water during a period of drought, local farmers began digging an irrigation well in Lintong district, Xi’an. Little more than a metre below ground, they unearthed fragments of the terracotta army, including a warrior’s head and a group of bronze arrowheads. Had the farmers commenced their digging a metre to the east, the warriors may have remained undetected.

The enormous tomb mound of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, is located 1.5 kilometres from the terracotta warriors. While this has been the Qin emperor’s recognised tomb site over the centuries, astoundingly the creation of the warriors who guarded it was never recorded and knowledge of their existence was lost over time. It was recorded that the emperor employed and conscripted up to 700,000 workers to construct his mausoleum, the terracotta army and other buried items, making it the largest and most ambitious mausoleum construction in China’s history. To date, approximately 2000 of an estimated 8000 warriors have been excavated, and the pieces on display here represent the variety of individuals created, their positions within the army and their styles of apparel.

 

The first emperor’s mausoleum, according to the grand historian

Han dynasty historian and scribe Sima Qian (145 – 86 BCE) wrote a detailed account of the construction and interior of Qin Shihuang’s mausoleum in his text Records of the Grand Historian – Basic Annals of Qin:

‘In the ninth month, the First Emperor was interred at Mount Li. When he first came to the throne, the digging and preparation work began. Later, when he had unified China, 700,000 men were sent there from all over the empire. They dug through three layers of groundwater, and poured in bronze for the outer coffin. Palaces and scenic towers for a hundred officials were constructed, and the tomb was filled with rare artefacts and wonderful treasure. Craftsmen were ordered to make crossbows and arrows primed to shoot at anyone who entered the tomb. Mercury was used to simulate the hundred rivers, the Yangtze and Yellow River, and the great sea, and set to flow mechanically. Above were representations of the heavenly constellations, below were the features of the land. Candles were made from fat of “man-fish”, calculated to burn and not extinguish for a long time. The Second Emperor said: “It would be inappropriate for the concubines of the late emperor who have no sons to be out free”, [and] ordered that they should accompany the dead, and a great many died. After the burial, it was suggested that it would be a serious breach if the craftsmen who constructed the mechanical devices and knew of its treasures were to divulge those secrets.

Therefore after the funeral ceremonies had completed and the treasures [had been] hidden away, the inner passageway was blocked, and the outer gate lowered, immediately trapping all the workers and craftsmen inside. None could escape. Trees and vegetation were then planted on the tomb mound such that it resembles a hill.’

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Armoured military officer 中级铠甲军吏俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Armoured military officer
中级铠甲军吏俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

Civil official 文官俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Civil official 文官俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Civil official 文官俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Civil official
文官俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

In preparation for the afterlife, Emperor Qin Shihuang not only produced a terracotta army for his protection, but also ceramic administrators to look after government and civil affairs. This terracotta figure was discovered at a site adjacent to the emperor’s tomb, more than a kilometre from the terracotta army. Twelve civil officials were discovered, as well as the bones of twenty actual horses, one chariot and one charioteer. The officials all feature moustaches and a small tuft of chin hair and wear small hats believed to symbolise their status as officials or public conveyances. The attire of some civil officials includes baggy robes and a belt from which a pouch (presumably carrying a sharpening stone) and knife (to inscribe bamboo slats used for record keeping) hang.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Chariot horse 车马 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Chariot horse 车马 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Chariot horse 车马 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Chariot horse 车马 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Chariot horse
车马
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

Horses were fundamental to the strength of Chinese rulers and sacrificial horse burials had been practised since the Shang dynasty (c. 1600 – 1046 BCE). This is particularly notable at the tomb of Duke Jing of Qi (reigned 547 – 490 BCE), which contained a pit with the remains of over 600 horses. At several separate excavation sites in the vicinity of Emperor Qin Shihuang’s tomb, the remains of real horses and chariots have been discovered. However, the first emperor is significantly noted as the first to create life-sized horse replicas as an integral part of the terracotta army’s military formation. While the adjacent horse features a hole on each side to prevent cracking during firing, this example was ventilated through its detachable tail.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Tomb gate 画像石 Eastern Han dynasty, 25 - 220 CE

Tomb gate 画像石 Eastern Han dynasty, 25 - 220 CE

Tomb gate 画像石 Eastern Han dynasty, 25 - 220 CE

Tomb gate 画像石 Eastern Han dynasty, 25 - 220 CE

 

Tomb gate
画像石
Eastern Han dynasty, 25 – 220 CE
Stone, pigments
Suide County Museum

 

 

This graphically decorated tomb gate depicts animated events and scenes of daily life typical of the Qin (221 – 207 BCE) and Han (207 BCE – 220 CE) dynasties. The lintel displays a hunting scene with men on horseback galloping at full speed – some with lances and others shooting arrows – in pursuit of wild animals. The inner left and right supports feature images of people wrestling, playing instruments, nursing children, performing acrobatics, walking with a horse, carrying goods or climbing stairs. Mythical birds, creatures and people are pictured on the rooftops and on the curling vines of the outer supports.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Mythical creatures 石兽 Eastern Han dynasty, 25 - 220 CE

Mythical creatures 石兽 Eastern Han dynasty, 25 - 220 CE

 

Mythical creatures
石兽
Eastern Han dynasty, 25 – 220 CE
Stone
Xi’an Beilin Museum, Xi’an

 

 

Large stone beasts lined ‘spirit paths’ leading to the tombs of emperors, royals and aristocrats to protect them in the afterlife. These two magnificent Han dynasty examples stride forward with teeth displayed and powerful tails gracefully balanced behind. The female rests her front paw on a playful infant beast, representing natural harmony, and the male beast places his paw on a ball, representing his supremacy.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Female attendant 粉彩女俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Female attendant 粉彩女俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Female attendant
粉彩女俑
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Xi’an

 

 

Excavated from the Yangling tomb of the fourth Han emperor, Jing, this female attendant displays the rounded shoulders typical of a Han dynasty beauty. She wears multi-layered robes with wide sleeves and the splayed lower section fashionable among women of the time. The position of her hands, concealed in her sleeves, elegant stance and gentle expression suggest that she is waiting to attend the imperial household members.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Standing soldiers 彩绘步兵俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Standing soldiers
彩绘步兵俑
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Xianyang Museum, Xianyang

 

Large cavalrymen 彩绘骑马俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Large cavalrymen 彩绘骑马俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Large cavalrymen 彩绘骑马俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Large cavalrymen 彩绘骑马俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Large cavalrymen 彩绘骑马俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Large cavalrymen
彩绘骑马俑
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Xianyang Museum, Xianyang

 

 

A terracotta army of more than 2400 horses with riders and standing figures was discovered in 1965 by villagers levelling land at Yangjiawan, approximately twenty-two kilometres north-east of Xi’an. Due to the large number of military objects found, the site is believed to be a satellite tomb in the burial complex of the first Han emperor, Gaozu, associated with the military generals Zhou Bo and his son Zhou Yafu. Each standing warrior carries a shield and wears a loose rove, and one has painted armour. Colour remains visible on these figures and provides a good indication of their original appearance.

Label text from the exhibition

 

Goat 陶山羊 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Goat 陶山羊 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Goat
陶山羊
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Han Yangling Museum, Xianyang

 

Cow 陶牛 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Cow 陶牛 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Cow
陶牛
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Han Yangling Museum, Xianyang

 

Wild male dog 陶狼犬(公) Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE; Domestic female dog 陶家犬(母) Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Wild male dog
陶狼犬(公)
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Han Yangling Museum, Xianyang

Domestic female dog
陶家犬(母)
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Han Yangling Museum, Xianyang

 

Sow 陶母猪 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Sow
陶母猪
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Xi’an

 

Group of ten soldiers 男武士俑--十人组 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Group of ten soldiers 男武士俑--十人组 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Group of ten soldiers
男武士俑–十人组
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Han Yangling Museum, Xianyang

 

 

More than 40,000 small-scale terracotta warriors were discovered and excavated during the 1990s from pits adjacent to the Han Yangling tomb of Emperor Jing. Created seventy years after Qin Shihuang’s life-sized terracotta warriors, they served the same purpose as tomb guardians but were of a scale that could be more practically produced. The torsos, legs and heads were moulded separately then joined with moist clay before firing. Arms, made from wood, clothing, made from cloth, and armour, made from leather, have all perished during their 2000 years underground. The variety of faces produced from different moulds suggest a multicultural nation and the many regions and ethnicities present in the Han dynasty army.

Label text from the exhibition

 

Wellhead 绿釉陶井 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

 

Wellhead
绿釉陶井
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Glazed earthenware
Xi’an Museum, Xi’an

 

 

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06
May
14

Exhibition: ‘Cai Guo-Qiang: Falling Back to Earth’ at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane

Exhibition dates: 23rd November 2013 – 11th May 2014

 

99 wolves a leaping
99 replicas of animals a drinking
31-metre suspended eucalyptus tree a leaning
170 tonnes of water a seeping
3,000 square metres of GOMA’s ground floor a taking
and not a partridge in a pear tree in sight…

FANTASTIC ART!

.
Many thankx to the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Heritage' 2013

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Heritage' 2013

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Heritage' 2013

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Heritage' 2013

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Heritage' 2013

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Heritage' 2013

 

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957)
Heritage
2013
99 life-sized replicas of animals, water, sand, drip mechanism
Installed dimensions variable
Commissioned for the exhibition Falling Back to Earth, 2013
Purchased 2013 with funds from Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Diversity Foundation through and with the assistance of the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation
Photograph: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

 

 

“Thought-provoking and spectacular new installations inspired by Queensland landscapes will premiere in the first Australian solo exhibition of leading international contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang, opening tomorrow at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). Cai Guo-Qiang: Falling Back to Earth, on display from November 23 to May 11, 2014, builds on a longstanding working relationship between the artist and the Gallery, which dates back to Cai’s participation in the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art exhibitions in 1996 and 1999.

For the first time ever, all 3,000 square metres of GOMA’s ground floor will be dedicated to an exhibition of work by a single living artist. Falling Back to Earth features installations of 99 replicas of animals drinking from a pristine lake; 99 wolves leaping en masse and colliding with a glass wall; a suspended 31-metre eucalyptus tree, creating a space for contemplation; and a tea pavilion where visitors can pause, drink tea, and find out more about the artist and the exhibition. There will also be an interactive installation for children and a chronological display of the artist’s career, with photographs, ephemera, and original art works selected by the artist.

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Director Chris Saines said Cai Guo-Qiang’s ground-breaking practice over 25 years used unexpected materials to create transformative event-based and social projects. “This exhibition is a significant evolution for one of today’s most compelling and highly respected global artists, realised with a level of ambition unprecedented for an Australian art museum,” Mr Saines said. “Cai is shifting his focus from the cosmos to the Earth and to humanity’s complex relationship with nature, while maintaining his keen eye on both the seen and unseen forces that impact life.”

Cai Guo-Qiang said the exhibition title Falling Back to Earth was inspired by fourth-century poet Tao Yuanming’s well-known prose poem, Ah, homeward bound I go! “The text captures the concept behind the exhibition, and expresses the idea of going home, returning to the harmonious relationship between man and nature, and re-embracing the tranquillity in the landscape,” he said.

Exhibition curator Russell Storer, Curatorial Manager of Asian and Pacific Art, QAGOMA, said the new commissions drew on the striking beauty of Queensland landscapes and the exquisite imagery in historical Chinese painting and poetry, to express concerns regarding the ecological and social issues of our time. “Heritage 2013 is an installation of 99 replicas of animals including pandas, tigers, bears, giraffes and kangaroos, lowering their heads to drink water together from a lake that is surrounded by white sand, evoking the islands of Brisbane’s Moreton Bay,” Mr Storer said. “Seemingly a peaceful gathering of predator and prey, the menagerie of Heritage conveys an almost reverential solemnity, in a lyrical utopian vision loaded with uncertainty. It embodies Cai’s image of a ‘last paradise’ and his awareness of a sense of crisis in contemporary societies across the world.”

The first single artwork to take up the entire 1,100m2 of GOMA’s largest gallery space, Heritage presents animals drinking from a lake filled with 170 tonnes of water, which is viewable from a walkway that circles the entire installation. The Gallery will acquire Heritage thanks to a generous contribution from benefactor Win Schubert, through the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Diversity Foundation with the assistance of the QAGOMA Foundation.

Eucalyptus 2013, a 31-metre tree suspended along GOMA’s central Long Gallery, came from a plantation earmarked for clearing for urban community development. The work was inspired by the ancient trees of Lamington National Park, and creates a meditative, immersive experience for visitors,” Mr Storer said. “Drawing on his history of socially provocative projects, Cai presents Eucalyptus as an unfinished work to be completed by the audience, who are invited to draw and write their ideas on the tree’s past and future. A third major installation, Head On 2006 – Cai’s signature work of 99 life-size sculptures of wolves, which was commissioned by Deutsche Bank, Berlin – is appearing in Australia for the first time.”

In the free interactive installation, Let’s Create an Exhibition with a Boy Named Cai 2013, Cai Guo-Qiang and the QAGOMA Children’s Art Centre invite children to participate, using the artist’s working methods to create their own exhibition through hands-on and multimedia activities, which include an online ‘gunpowder drawing’ making program. An illustrated storybook written by the artist and created in collaboration with the Children’s Art Centre will be available from the QAGOMA Store.

The Tea Pavilion in the River Room invites visitors to pause, rest and reflect on the works in the exhibition. Visitors can sample Tie Guan Yin tea from Cai’s home province of Fujian and watch a documentary created especially for ‘Falling Back to Earth’ to learn more about the processes behind the exhibition. A detailed chronology of Cai’s work, including early works, ephemera, photographs and artefacts selected by the artist from his private collection and the QAGOMA Research Library, will be presented in the GOMA Foyer. The display will offer insights into the artist’s history with QAGOMA and the complexity and risk involved in Cai’s work. The exhibition will be fully documented in a major publication, available in January 2014. The book will feature photography of the new works and essays from leading curators, as well as reflections from Cai Guo-Qiang on his collaboration with children throughout his career.

Cai’s recent solo exhibitions and projects have included the retrospective Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe, presented at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, the National Art Museum of China in Beijing in 2008 and the Guggenheim Bilbao in 2009. He was Director of Visual and Special Effects for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and his first exhibition in the Middle East was staged in Doha, Qatar, in 2011. In 2012, the artist appeared in solo exhibitions in Los Angeles, Hangzhou and Copenhagen. His first South American exhibition toured to Brasília, São Paolo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in 2013.”

Press release from the Gallery of Modern Art website

 

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Tea Pavilion' 2013

 

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957)
Tea Pavilion
2013
Spotted gum (Corymbia maculata), wooden stools, Fujian Tie Guan Yin tea and video documentary
Commissioned for the exhibition Falling Back to Earth, 2013
Photo by Yuyu Chen, courtesy Cai Studio

 

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Eucalyptus' 2013

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Eucalyptus' 2013

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Eucalyptus' 2013

 

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957)
Eucalyptus
2013
Spotted gum (Corymbia maculata), wooden stools, paper and pencils
Length: 3150 cm (approx.)
Commissioned for the exhibition Falling Back to Earth, 2013
Photograph: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

 

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Head On' 2006

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Head On' 2006

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Head On' 2006

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Head On' 2006

 

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957)
Head On
2006
99 life-sized replicas of wolves and glass wall. Wolves: gauze, resin, and hide
Dimensions variable
Deutsche Bank Collection, commissioned by Deutsche Bank AG
Photograph: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

 

 

Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)

The Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) and Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) are located 150 metres from each other, on the south bank of the Brisbane River. Entrance to both buildings is possible from Stanley Place, and the river front entrance to the Queensland Art Gallery is on Melbourne Street. The Galleries are within easy walking distance to the city centre and South Bank Parklands.

Opening hours:
Daily 10.00 am – 5.00 pm
Closed Christmas Day, Good Friday, open from 12.00 noon ANZAC Day

Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) website

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08
Jul
11

Exhibition: ‘Ai Weiwei – Interlacing’ at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich

Exhibition dates: 28th May – 21st August 2011

 

Many thankx to Fotomuseum Winterthur for allowing me to publish the text and the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for another version of the image.

 

 

Ai Weiwei. '
Dropping a Han-Dynasty Urn' 1995

 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
Dropping a Han-Dynasty Urn
1995
Triptych
C-prints
150 x 166 cm each
© Ai Weiwei

 

Ai Weiwei. '
Profile of Duchamp, Sunflower Seeds' 1983

 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
Profile of Duchamp, Sunflower Seeds
1983
From New York Photographs, 1983-1993
C-print
20 x 28.5 cm
© Ai Weiwei

 

Ai Weiwei
. 'June 1994' 1994

 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
June 1994
1994
C-print
117.5 x 152 cm
© Ai Weiwei

 

 

Ai Weiwei – Interlacing is the first major exhibition of photographs and videos by Ai Weiwei. It foregrounds Ai Weiwei the communicator – the documenting, analysing, interweaving artist who communicates via many channels. Ai Weiwei already used photography in his New York years, but especially since his return to Beijing, he has incessantly documented the everyday urban and social realities in China, discussing it over blogs and Twitter. Photographs of radical urban transformation, of the search for earthquake victims, and the destruction of his Shanghai studio are presented together with his art photography projects, the Documenta project Fairytale, the countless blog and cell phone photographs. A comprehensive book accompanies this exhibition.

Ai Weiwei is a generalist, a conceptual, socially critical artist dedicated to creating friction with, and forming reality. As an architect, conceptual artist, sculptor, photographer, blogger, Twitterer, interview artist, and cultural critic, he is a sensitive observer of current topics and social problems: a great communicator and networker who brings life into art and art into life.

Ai Weiwei was born in 1957, the son of the poet Ai Qing. Following his studies at the Beijing Film Academy, he cofounded in 1978 the artists’ collective The Stars, which rejected Social Realism and advocated artistic individualism and experimentation in art. In 1981 Ai Weiwei went to the USA and 1983 to New York, where he studied at Parsons School for Design in the class of the painter Sean Scully. In New York he discovered artists like Allen Ginsberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, and, above all, Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp is important for him because he understood art as part of life. At this time, Ai Weiwei produced his first ready-mades and thousands of photographs documenting his life and friends in the Chinese art community in New York. After his father fell ill, he returned to Beijing in 1993. In 1997 he cofounded the China Art Archives & Warehouse (CAAW) and began from then on to deal with architecture as well. Ai Weiwei opened his own studio in 1999 in Caochangdi and set up the architecture studio FAKE Design in 2003. In the same year, he played a major role, together with the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, in the construction of the Olympic stadium, the so-called Bird’s Nest. Following its completion, it became a new symbol of Beijing. In 2007, 1001 Chinese visitors traveled, at his instigation, to Documenta 12 in Kassel (Fairytale). In 2010 the world marvelled at his large, yet formally minimal carpet of millions of hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds at the Tate Modern.

Ai Weiwei deliberately confronts social conditions in China and in the world: Through photographically documenting the architectonic clear-cutting of Beijing in the name of progress, with provocative measurements of the world, his personal positionings in the Study of Perspective, with radical cuts in the past (made to found pieces of furniture) in order to create possibilities for the present and the future, and with his tens of thousands of blog entries, blog photographs, and cell phone photographs (along with many other artistic declarations). This first, large exhibition and book project of his photography and videos focuses on Ai Weiwei’s diversity, complexity, and connectedness, his “interlacing” and “networking” with hundreds of photographs, blogs, and explanatory essays.

The artist as network, as company, as activist, as political voice, as social container, as agent provocateur: at every moment – in the past, present, and future – every society on Earth needs outstanding unique figures like Ai Weiwei in order to stay awake, to be shaken awake, to be made to recognise their own obstinacy, and to be able to avoid tunnel vision. We are therefore deeply saddened that the completion of this book coincides with Ai Weiwei’s arrest which we deplore. We are extremely concerned about the artist. And we wish that this great thinker, designer, and fighter will remain a resistant public voice for all of us – and especially for China.

The exhibition and book were developed in close collaboration with Ai Weiwei. For reasons already mentioned, however, he was unable to be involved in completing the book. We continue to hope that he will be personally present for the installation of the exhibition.

Press release from the Fotomuseum Winterthur [Online] Cited 06/07/2011 no longer available online

 

Ai Weiwei.
 'Provisional Landscapes' 2002-2008

 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
Provisional Landscapes
2002-2008
Diptych
Inkjet prints
66 x 84 cm each
© Ai Weiwei

 

Ai Weiwei
. '10/29/04, Hebei Carpet Factory, China'
 c. 2005-2009


 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
10/29/04, Hebei Carpet Factory, China
c. 2005-2009
From Blog Photographs
© Ai Weiwei

 

Ai Weiwei
. '6/1/08, Wenchuan, China'
 c. 2005-2009

 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
6/1/08, Wenchuan, China
c. 2005-2009
From Blog Photographs
© Ai Weiwei

 

Ai Weiwei
. 'Study of Perspective - Tiananmen' 1995-2010


 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
Study of Perspective – Tiananmen
1995-2010
C-print
32.5 x 43.5 cm
© Ai Weiwei

 

Ai Weiwei from 'Bird's Nest' 2005-2008

 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
From Bird’s Nest
2005-2008
C-print
46.5 x 60 cm
© Ai Weiwei

 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957) 'Fairytale 1' 2007

 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
Fairytale 1
2007
From Fairytale
Inkjet-print
92.5 x 92.5 cm
© Ai Weiwei

 

Ai Weiwei.
 'Ai Weiwei. Williamsburg, Brooklyn' 1983


 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
Ai Weiwei. Williamsburg, Brooklyn
1983
From New York Photographs 1983-1993
C-print
29.2 x 20 cm
© Ai Weiwei

 

 

Fotomuseum Winterthur
Grüzenstrasse 44 + 45
CH-8400
Winterthur (Zürich)

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 11 am – 6 pm
Wednesday 11 am – 8 pm
Monday closed

Fotomuseum Winterthur website

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16
Aug
10

Review: ‘How Nature Speaks’ at Arc One Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 27th July – 21st August, 2010

Artists: Justine Khamara, Lyndell Brown and Charles Green, Imants Tillers, Sam Shmith, Janet Laurence, Murray Fredericks and Huang Xu

 

 

Janet Laurence. 'Carbon Vein' 2008

 

Janet Laurence (Australian, b. 1947)
Carbon Vein
2008
Duraclear, oil pigment on acrylic
235 x 100 cm

 

 

This is an excellent group exhibition at Arc One Gallery, Melbourne. Together the works form a satisfying whole; individually there are some visually exciting works. There are two insightful paintings by Imants Tillers, Nature Speaks: BP (2009) and Blossoming 21 (2010), a digitally constructed landscape by Sam Shmith, Untitled (Passenger)’ (2010) that the online image doesn’t really do justice to, a large photographic landscape of a storm over Lake Eyre Salt 304 (2009, see image below) by Murray Fredericks and two layered transcapes by Janet Laurence (see image below) that just confirm the talent of this artist after the exciting installation of her work at the Melbourne Art Fair (I call them transcapes because they seem to inhabit a layered in-between space existing between dream and reality).

For me the three outstanding works were the large horizontal photograph Hair No.2 (2009) by Huang Xu, in which hair hangs like a delicate cloud on a dark background and his photograph Flower No. 1 (2008, see below) in which the white petals of the chrysanthemum, symbol of death or lamentation and grief in some Western and Eastern countries in the world, seemingly turn to marble in the photographic print (you can see this online in the enlarged version of the image below). What a magnificent photograph this is – make sure that you don’t miss it because it is tucked away in the small gallery off the main gallery in the Arc One space. The third outstanding work is the sculpture you are a glorious, desolate prospect (2010) by Justine Khamara (see photographs below), a glorious magical mountain, twinkling in the light, all shards of reflectiveness, cool as ice. I would have loved to have seen this work without it’s protective case – in one sense the case works conceptually to trap the speaking of the mountain but in another it blocks access to the language of this work, the reflection of the light of the gallery, the light of the world bouncing off it’s surfaces.

This is not, of course, how nature speaks but how humans speak for nature – through image-ining and seeking to control and order the elemental forces that surround us. This construction of reality has a long tradition in the history of art, the mediation of the world through the hands, eyes and mind of the artist offering to the viewer, for however brief a moment, that sense of awakening to the possibilities of the world in which we all live.

.
Many thankx to Angela and all at Arc One Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Justine Khamara. 'you are a glorious, desolate prospect' 2010

 

Justine Khamara (Australian, b. 1971)
you are a glorious, desolate prospect
2010
Mirror, perspex, plinth
80 x 186 cm

 

Justine Khamara. 'you are a glorious, desolate prospect' 2010 (detail)

 

Justine Khamara (Australian, b. 1971)
you are a glorious, desolate prospect (detail)
2010
Mirror, perspex, plinth
80 x 186 cm

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green. 'Galatea Point' 2005

 

Lyndell Brown (Australian, b. 1961) and Charles Green (Australian)
Galatea Point
2005
Digital photograph on duraclear film edition of 5
112 x 112 cm

 

Huang Xu, 'Flower No.1' 2008

 

Huang Xu (Chinese, b. 1968)
Flower No.1
2008
Type C photograph
120 x 120 cm

 

Murray Fredericks. 'Salt 304' 2009

 

Murray Fredericks (Australian, b. 1970)
Salt 304
2009
Pigment print on cotton rag
244 x 88 cm

 

 

Arc One Gallery
45 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, 3000
Phone: (03) 9650 0589

Opening hours:
Tues – Sat 11am – 5pm

Arc One Gallery website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

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