6 March – 3 August 2014
REVIEWING THE NEW
The story of modern China is one of reformations. Few nations have changed so much in so short a time, or been so traumatised in the process. In the 1890s, an emperor who ordered Western-style reforms was promptly overthrown by his courtiers. In the mid 20th century, the Maoists modernised China by force, killing all who stood in their way. When their Soviet-style reform program failed, in 1978 Deng Xiaoping launched a counter-reformation, easing the Party’s grip on people’s lives and ‘opening up’ China to the world.
Many Chinese struggled with the new freedoms and outside contacts, but artists revelled in them. Contemporary art was alien, its idioms and vocabulary borrowed from the West. But its limitless possibilities opened up artists’ imaginations. With energy, wit and finesse, they set about learning this new creative language. In doing so, they made contemporary art speak Chinese.
Today China is home to a creative reformation that is changing Chinese and contemporary art alike. It draws inspiration from calligraphy and Impressionist painting, Taoism and the Internet, Beijing street life and global business, kung fu and genetic science. Some artists are reinventing traditional Chinese forms using video, plastic and robots. For others, the message is all that matters; their artistic language is a global one, with hardly a hint of ‘Chinese’. REFORMATION shows this vibrant avant-garde at their best: confident, audacious, commercially savvy, the boldest experimenters in what the head of China’s national art academy calls “the most experimental country in the world”.
REFORMATION is drawn completely from Judith Neilson’s renowned White Rabbit Collection.
CURATOR: Bonnie Hudson
Please click on the artists’ names below to discover more information about each artist and their work.
multiple works, various artists
One Metre of Democracy, 2010, photographs and video of performance, 32 x 46 cm (x6), 12 min 7 sec
XU ZHEN (MADEIN COMPANY)
Physique of Consciousness Museums 1 and 2, 2012–13, glass, fibreboard, wood, foam 200 x 80 x 60 cm (x2)
SHYU RUEY-SHIANN (Taiwan)
Eight Drunken Immortals, 2012, metal, wheels, wires, ink, motors, transformers, sensors, 480 (L) x 240 (W) x 250 cm (H)
Close to the Warm, 2013,
incandescent bulb, electrical wire, paper stickers dimensions variable
Silver Salmon 00001, 2013,
handwritten and illustrated notes on paper, 32 pages, each 29.7 x 21 cm
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know, 1 and 2, 2013
silica gel, clothing, video animation, video screen 180 x 60 x 50 cm (x2)
Gossip from Confucius City Nos. 1–4, 2011, acrylic on paper, 55 x 55 cm (x4)
I Am Your Agency Nos. 16, 22, 26, 31, 38, 2013, oil on canvas, various dimensions
XU ZHEN (MADEIN COMPANY)
Play 201301, 2013, genuine and artificial leather, BDSM accessories, foam, metal, wood, 545 (L) x 300 (W) x 330 cm (H)
Dog in Wind; Fat Lady; Girl; Lady; Nude; Sisters; Small Family With One Baby; Untitled; Yawning Baby, all 2012, oil on canvas and plywood, various dimensions