11 September 2019 – 26 January 2020
THEN celebrates the great adventure of White Rabbit’s first decade: ten exciting years of showcasing the creative energy, daring and technical accomplishment of Chinese contemporary art. The gallery’s tenth anniversary exhibition presents works by more than 60 artists, all produced during the first ten years of Judith Neilson’s private collection (2000-2010). Some were highlights of the very first White Rabbit exhibition, in 2009.
Sweeping social change at the end of the 20th century meant that Chinese artists at the start of the 21st found themselves in a world that had been utterly transformed. They responded by embracing new influences from overseas and from within China. Re-examining and reinventing Chinese art traditions, playfully fusing them with the best of international contemporaneity, they created an eclectic mash-up of past and present, and east and west.
Their provocative work celebrated – and satirised – a society in flux. A fire-engine red, pig-like car with an 11-metre protruding tongue; a giant pair of pink, neon-lit underpants with a soundtrack of Shanghai love songs; a dusty minivan that ‘breathes’; an installation of 1500 knitted strawberries – the sheer inventiveness of artists revelling in new-found freedoms challenged clichéd perceptions of China. From embroidered portraits of grinning world leaders to American and Chinese flags made up of corporate logos, the artists in THEN examine the paradoxes of a nation on fast forward.
The first decade of this ‘Chinese century’ was the moment that Chinese contemporary art exploded into the international arena. THEN tells the story of White Rabbit’s first, boldly adventurous decade – a journey into the unknown that parallels the ambition and audacity of contemporary Chinese art.
THEN is drawn completely from Judith Neilson’s renowned White Rabbit Collection.
CURATOR: David Williams