27 February – 2 August 2015


Artistic experimentation flourishes in freedom; the freer artists feel, the more inclined they are to play. But that isn’t the whole story. Creativity also draws energy from unfreedom, from artists’ reactions to the strictures of political control and social convention, and from their search for unexplored spaces and fresh perspectives within established forms. For Chinese contemporary artists, the tension between surging individual freedom and unrelenting government control has powered an explosion of creative play that shows no sign of abating.

It’s a phenomenon that classical artists would have understood and applauded. For them, great art always had a spiritual ‘vitality’ that arose from the interplay between yin and yang: negative and positive, emptiness and fullness, darkness and light. The works in STATE OF PLAY could hardly be more different from the ink scrolls of Chinese tradition, but their liveliness comes from the same electric source. They explore not only the bright side of play—fun and fantasy, caricature and jest—but its shadowy undertow of dreams and longings, seduction and scheming. Some artists use schoolboy scribbles and surreality to make serious comments about the power games of adults; others respond to these games by retreating into childhood memories and imaginings. Their techniques too are playful—experimental, freewheeling, messing with the rules. Contemporary art may not, as some once hoped, make Chinese society free. But, says the critic Lao Li, “it can make the artists free. And for anyone to be free is no small matter.”

STATE OF PLAY is drawn completely from Judith Neilson’s renowned White Rabbit Collection.
CURATORS: Bonnie Hudson and Barbara Flynn

Please click on the artists’ names below to discover more information about each artist and their work.


Shyu ruey-shiann (Taiwan)
One Kind of Behaviour, 2000-2007 galvanised steel buckets, metal, wood, motors, wire, dimensions variable

he an
What Makes Me Understand What I Know, 2009 neon lights, LEDs, photographs, dimensions variable


Zhang dali
Life, 2011
cyanotype on cotton, 265 x 300 cm

liang tao
Luofu Dream: Pink Pink, 2006
wood, polyester, plastic-coated acetate, plastic beads, nylon, 100 x 180 x 270 cm

Xu Zhen
produced by MadeIn Company
Spread B-041, 2010
synthetic fabrics, cotton, acrylic fur, cord thread, 320 x 508 cm

Sun Hongbin
Girl, 2012
oil on canvas, 35 x 25 cm
Sisters, 2012
oil on canvas, 26 x 26 cm

Yu Xiao
Never Grow Up Nos. 1, 5,  2008 chromogenic colour prints,
each 100 x 100 cm

Bu Hua
Beauty No. 3, 2008,
pigmented inkjet print, 100 x 100 cm

Jian Jun Xi
The Empire, 2013,
wood, mattress, pillow, light, books, clothing, closed-circuit video camera,
280 x 280 x 455 cm

gonkar gyatso
My Identity No. 4, 2003,
chromogenic colour print, 48 x 64 cm

yang yongliang
Cigarette Ash Landscape, 2013, pigmented inket prints, cardboard, paper, wire, foam, dimensions variable

liao chien-chung
Goddamn Life, 2008,
motorcycle frame and parts, bicycle parts, video (colour and sound),
133 x 233 x 93 cm

Zheng Guogu
2000 AD and Rust Another 2000 Years, 2001–2005,
mild steel, brass, 12 x 70 cm (x12)


agi chen
Reproduction—Male, 2011
transparency in lightbox, 120 x 145 cm

Cao yIngbin
Buy and Sell, 2008
acrylic on canvas, 130 x 160 cm
People’s Park, 2009
ceramic, acrylic paint, enamel trays,
36.5 x 46.5 x 3 cm (x3)

chen hangfeng
Logomania Carpet No. 1, 2006
hand-made wool carpet, 200 x 200 cm

Red Star Motel No. 1, 2009
chromogenic colour print, 80 x 80 cm

chow chun fai
Legend of the Fist: China Is Not Ruled By Chinese Anyway, 2012,
enamel paint on canvas, 244 x 488 cm

dong wensheng
Dahlias, 2014
Mayflowers, 2014 hand-coloured gelatin silver prints, each 88 x 68 cm
Chinese Garden Nos. 5, 6, 7, 8, 2005, gelatin silver prints, each 80 x 80 cm

huang jingyuan
Gossip From Confucius City Nos.1, 2, 2012 acrylic on paper on board,
each 55 x 55 cm

Huang Yan
Chinese Shanshui Tattoo No. 7, 1999, chromogenic colour print, 80 x 100 cm

Liao guohe
Loophole (Obey), 2013
acrylic on canvas, 162 x 200 cm

li yaping
Have You Seen All of Me? Nos. 1, 2, 3, 2013 etchings, 30 x 45 x 0.3 cm (x3)

Xu Zhen produced by MadeIn Company
Play 201301 (components), 2013, leather, artificial leather, BDSM accessories, foam, metal, wood, various dimensions

Wang Luyan
Fire at Both Ends Automatic Handgun, 2003 acrylic on canvas, 150 x 200 cm

yang fudong
Ms Huang at M Last Night Nos. 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 10, 2006
digital prints, each 120 x 180 cm

Zhang Lehua
Leave Tomorrow’s Work for the Day After Tomorrow, 2012
marker pen on canvas, 160 x 190 cm

zheng guogu
Computer Is Controlled by Pig’s Brains Nos. 134, 135, 2007–2014,
oil on canvas, each 200 x 200 cm

zhou xiaohu
Even in Fear, 2008,
weather balloon, steel, plastic, air pump, motor, dimensions variable

Zong Ning
Insane Desire, 2008
inkjet print on premium rice paper,
80 x 60 cm

Kwan sheung-chi
Doing it with Chi—Making an Exit Bag, 2009, video (colour, sound), 3 min 44 sec
Doing it with Mrs Kwan—Making Pepper Spray, 2012
video (colour, sound), 5 min 16s
One Million (RMB), 2013 video (colour, sound), 80 min

Guan Xiao
David, 2013
video (colour, sound), 5 min


Zhang Hai’er
Lune Violette in Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, Guangzhou, 2004,
chromogenic colour print, 75 x 100 cm
Lune Violette with a Fake Louis Vuitton Handbag, Guangzhou, 2004,
chromogenic colour print, 75 x 100 cm
Lee Lyna, Royal Court Hotel, Beijing, 2006, chromogenic colour print, 67 x 100 cm
Lin Yuanhua, Guangzhou, 1995, chromogenic colour print, 67 x 100 cm
Zhou Jie Bound by Qiao Mei, Guangzhou, 2005, chromogenic colour print,
67 x 100 cm
Qiao Mei, Guangzhou, 2005,
chromogenic colour print, 67 x 100 cm
Lune Violette, Guangzhou, Nos. 1 and 2, 2006 chromogenic colour prints,
each 67 x 100 cm
Emily With a Fake Dior Vintage Handbag, Guangzhou, 2005,
chromogenic colour print, 67 x 100 cm
Emily and Shi Guobin, Guangzhou, 2009, chromogenic colour print, 67 x 100 cm
Emily with Xiangxiang, Dongguan, 2005, chromogenic colour print, 67 x 100 cm
Chily, Golden Bridge Hotel, Guangzhou, Nos. 1 and 2, 2005, chromogenic colour prints, each 67 x 100 cm
Ma Naxia, Royal Court Hotel, Beijing, 2006 chromogenic colour print,
67 x 100 cm
Zhao Ming, Guangzhou, 1995 chromogenic colour print, 67 x 100 cm
Emily, Xiangxiang and Manna Clubbing, Dongguan, 2005 chromogenic colour print, 67 x 100 cm

Qiu Jiongjiong
Madame, 2009–2010
video (black and white, sound), 120 min

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