Time­less ties

Young artists flaunt their works around the ‘Chi­nese pose’ at on­go­ing ex­hi­bi­tions in East China, Lin Qi re­ports.

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

A ret­ro­spec­tive of the work of UK-born artist An­thony Stones in Bei­jing shows his in­ti­mate con­nec­tions with China, where he lived for 15 years.

For nearly a decade, Bei­jing-based artist Liu Qing has zoomed in on the lives of ur­ban dwellers with his life­size in­stal­la­tions.

The 34-year-old sculp­tor has pro­duced copies of re­al­life sit­u­a­tions, mostly from public spa­ces such as el­e­va­tors, sub­way coaches or wait­ing halls of train sta­tions.

In such scenes, he cre­ates fig­ures that are at once to­gether and yet in­dif­fer­ent to each other, fo­cus­ing on their own busi­ness — talk­ing on the phone, sleep­ing or eat­ing.

In his lat­est work Self-Ser­vic­ing Tick­et­ing, Liu shows a jammed bus on which mi­grant work­ers, of­fice work­ers, young stu­dents and for­eign­ers are tightly pressed to­gether like salmon in a tin can. Their faces tell of a dis­com­fort that would make them shout out at any mo­ment. Some stretch out their hands for sup­port but grab noth­ing.

Un­der­neath the dra­matic feel of his work, Liu presents a calm, in­sight­ful ob­ser­va­tion of peo­ple’s anx­i­eties be­cause of a breath­less pace of life and re­mote in­ter­per­sonal re­la­tion­ships thanks mostly to theweb ad­dic­tion in to­day’s world.

Liu’s ap­proach re­flects a keen in­ter­est among many Chi­nese sculp­tors in re­spond­ing to a chang­ing world. The va­ri­ety of their ex­pres­sions shows a “Chi­nese pose” with which artists tell sto­ries of con­tem­po­rary so­ci­ety, ac­cord­ing to Zeng Cheng­gang, a sculp­tor and the head ofChina Sculp­ture In­sti­tute, an aca­demic or­ga­ni­za­tion un­der the Min­istry of Cul­ture.

“Chi­nese pose” is also the theme for the Fourth China Sculp­ture Ex­hi­bi­tion, which has been or­ga­nized by Zeng’s in­sti­tute and runs at Shan­dong Art­Mu­seum, in Ji­nan of East China’s Shan­dong prov­ince, through Nov 13.

Some 100 works on show re­veal the trends in style and tech­nique over the past two years, and 60 per­cent of the fea­tured artists are aged 36 or be­low.

The ex­hi­bi­tion opened on Oct 18.

The dis­played sculp­tures have been se­lected by a jury com­pris­ing artists and scholars from more than 1,500 ap­pli­cants across the coun­try. Liu’s work is among the top five pieces that won the most votes from judges.

The ex­hi­bi­tion was launched in 2008 to dis­cover up-and-com­ing artists who make mul­ti­ple at­tempts at creation and in dif­fer­ent ways. Liu’s works were dis­played at the same ex­hi­bi­tion in 2011 and 2013.

“I feel the show’s ap­praisal process has raised the thresh­old, but I also see young artists mak­ing suc­cess­ful en­tries here, which is en­cour­ag­ing for us,” Liu says. VanGoghAlive—TheEx­pe­ri­ence TheBe­d­room.

Zeng says the ex­hi­bi­tion is pro­vid­ing a stage to young artists whose view­points are re­shap­ing Chi­nese sculp­ture. Such artists are sen­si­tive to so­cial trans­for­ma­tion and they trans­late their thoughts into the lan­guage of sculp­ture, he says, which is an out­come of eco­nomic and ed­u­ca­tional de­vel­op­ments as well as the ex­am­i­na­tion of Chi­nese cul­ture by them.

In his shown work, 2016.2.29, Dawn, Sunny, Guangzhou-based artist Ke Ji­amin, 32, hails the in­di­vid­u­al­ity of hand­i­craft that was once re­placed by fac­to­ries but has won back peo­ple re­cently.

Ke dis­plays a video of how he turned a piece of wood into a key over three hours. He also shows the tools he used, the key and a locker that view­ers can un­lock with the key.

“It was an ex­per­i­ment to see if I could sit peace­fully and fo­cus on a work that seemed boring,” Ke says.

“While in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion has been rapid, I still be­lieve there is space for a small stu­dio where a man can de­vote time to hand­i­work, with­out much care about its com­mer­cial prospects.”

Zeng also notes that mo­ti­vated by cross-dis­ci­plinary de­vel­op­ment, Chi­nese artists are adopt­ing dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy to cre­ate a strong chem­istry be­tween their works and the au­di­ence — bring­ing more “vis­ual and spir­i­tual stim­u­la­tion” to peo­ple.

Xu Jin­long, a 27-year-old artist from Guangzhou, is in­ter­ested in daily use items and he ex­plores their re­la­tion­ship with peo­ple. His work

Dis­tance of 0.2Meter is shown at the ex­hi­bi­tion, in which he re­cy­cles dis­carded things such as an old bed, desks, chairs and posters, to re-cre­ate a room.

He has in­stalled a sen­sor and wheels on some of the ob­jects so when view­ers come closer to them — within 20 cen­time­ters — they will move away.

He hopes the old ob­jects will awaken peo­ple’s mem­o­ries of their child­hoods, dur­ing which things were used and main­tained for lengths of time thereby de­vel­op­ing an in­ti­macy with the users.

“I be­lieve things get a soul af­ter be­ing man­u­fac­tured. De­spite be­ing used or thrown away, they still em­body an in­ner power that keeps re­mind­ing peo­ple of their value,” Xu says.

Also be­ing held at the Shan­dong mu­seum is the Eighth Sino-South Korean Sculp­ture Ex­change Ex­hi­bi­tion where dozens of works show the lat­est de­vel­op­ments in South Korean art.

Han Jin-sub, pres­i­dent of the South Korea Sculp­ture In­sti­tute, notes that artists from his coun­try and China are seek­ing to present fea­tures of their own cul­tures and ori­gins, a move for­ward from the ear­lier gen­er­a­tions that stud­ied mainly West­ern artists.

He also says Chi­nese and South Korean artists are dis­cussing ways in which sculp­tures can be linked more deeply with the lives of or­di­nary peo­ple.


The Fourth China Sculp­ture Ex­hi­bi­tion runs at Shan­dong Art Mu­seum through Nov 13. Works by up-and-com­ing artists are among the high­lights of the show.


The on­go­ing ex­hi­bi­tion in Rome fea­tures pho­to­graphs and videos on the art of Vin­cent Van Gogh, in­clud­ing the painting

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