1 March – 4 August 2013
An Artists’-Eye View of a Fracturing China
In the metastasising mega-cities where more than half of China’s people live, change is the only constant. As residential districts make way for gleaming skyscrapers, social structures are being shaken by overcrowding, isolation, and the dog-eat-dog struggle to get ahead. As new possibilities emerge, old ways and old certainties are breaking down.
Under Mao, the Communist Party set out to “smash the Four Olds”: customs, culture, habits and ideas. Now the “new China” they built is itself under assault, and not only from growing wealth and freedoms. Greed, corruption, and official heavy-handedness are generating anger and anxiety. The immovable edifice of Party rule—depicted literally in Wang Guofeng’s huge photographs of Maoist monuments—is starting to show cracks.
SMASH PALACE showcases the reactions of China’s best artists to the shocks of the new century. Some question the solidity of the status quo; others lift the shining masks and find monsters beneath. Some artists find reality so absurd that fantasy or mockery seems the only proper response; others seek anchors in the same Olds the hard-liners were so determined to erase.
Cheng Dapeng and Zhou Jie create surreal cities using cutting-edge 3D printing and traditional ceramics. The weather balloon of Zhou Xiaohu’s Even in Fear inflates almost to bursting point, then shrinks to a wizened sack. Tu Pei-Shih’s teeming animations depict history as a path to confusion and chaos. Tzeng Yong-Ning sees his furious scribbles of red ballpoint as a direct link between traditional calligraphy and contemporary chaos. Zhang Tingqun’s intricate abstractions call to mind digital networks, but they were inspired by the cracks in old China.
SMASH PALACE is drawn completely from Judith Neilson’s renowned White Rabbit Collection.
CURATOR: Paris Neilson
Please click on the artists’ names below to discover more information about each artist and their work.
Dead Bird, 2008, Jie, 2008, Insane Desire, 2008, Slum, 2008, inkjet prints on rice paper, 80 x 60 cm each
Await, 2006, transparency on lightbox, 136 x 323 x 8 cm
Inter-Nation, 2006, transparency on lightbox, 136 x 406 x 8 cm
acrylic and pen on linen, 100 x 90 cm
acrylic and pen on linen, 300 x 200 cm
Wonderful City, 2011-12,
resin 3D prints, 960 x 200 x 80 cm
Cola Landscape II, 2011,
pen on canvas, 200 x 200 cm
Adventures in Mount Yu 01, 2010,
HD video projection, 4 min 50 sec
Adventures in Mount Yu 05, 2011,
HD video projection, 7 minutes
Order 2006.06, 2006.08, 2006.09, 2006, ink, pencil, propylene on yunlong paper, 90 x 90 cm each
Drugs, Poisons, Good Living and the General Secretary, 2011,
acrylic on canvas, 65 x 80 cm
Fifth-Round Thinking About Bananas and Their Rights—Tell A Smartass Chicken Joke to the Party, 2011,
acrylic on canvas, 192 x 218 cm
Ah! Secretary Pork-Liver Monster, Save the Country, Save the People, Prevent People from Being Heartless, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 65 x 80 cm
Ah! Secretary: Elf and Wukong [Monkey], 2011, acrylic on canvas, 65 x 80 cm
Chairman “Who”, If You Marry the General Secretary’s Wife, You Will Become Chairman Hu, 2011,
acrylic on canvas, 65 x 80 cm