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Anthony Yung, Senior Researcher, Asia Art Archive, April 24, 2014

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Anthony Yung, Senior Researcher, Asia Art Archive, April 24, 2014
Anthony Yung, Senior Researcher, Asia Art Archive. (Image courtesy of the Sharjah Art Foundation)

 

Our Conversation Series features intimate interviews with leading experts from around the world: collectors, curators, artists, gallerists, and museum directors.

 

 

The start of this kind of fever of contemporary Chinese art started in the 90s, because of the tendency of something called multiculturalism happened America and Europe. The reason for that was that the art scene or the art circle in Europe or America were sort of saturated since the late 80s and 90s, and they were very eager to look for new and fresh things. It was exactly that moment contemporary Chinese started to appear in front of them.

How different is the generation of Chinese artists born after the Cultural Revolution?
They didn’t experience the same kind of political campaign and actual hardship in life. The whole society has changed so much that now they have a lot of materials, they don't have care a lot about the limitation of resources, and very importantly they have a lot of access to information. It’s more difficult to focus now, just like in Hong Kong or in any other kind of developed society. You have a lot of different temptations, especially in China, because of the market is so strong. A lot of young artists when they just came out of the academy, they would be absorbed by the gallery system. They didn't have a lot of time to develop what they were really interested in, like the way before. Of course there are still a lot artists producing things that reflect very clearly the situation in China, and I would say even more so than before. In terms of contemporary art, they have developed a more mature language, unlike before, because they didn’t have the access to information, a lot of times they had to invent a lot of things by themselves. They didn’t know similar things that happened in the West, things like that. But now nowadays, they know, so they can pick the best way to express themselves.

What defines a good artist?
Being sincere is the most important quality. So being sincere means that you don’t need to take care of a lot of influences of the mainstream culture, or the mainstream value system of the society, especially not the art market. You have to be very sure about what you really like as an artist, and spend time developing the things you like and listening to yourself. I see the greatest artists always have a very strong personality and confidence about what they believe in, so they can keep on to be themselves.

Do you think that censorship is affecting Chinese artists?
I think that censorship is one of the most misunderstood thing that is happening in China. The contemporary Chinese artists have already learnt to play with the game very well. They are artists who deliberately make work to be censored. The worst the situation is, the more successful they were. This is something very rigid, something very stiff, almost like a dialectic relationship. As long as there is something you can’t do, you do it, then you will become the revolutionary.

Do you think that the growth of private museums in China is sustainable?
To be honest, in general speaking, I don’t think that it is very sustainable. But I think it’s also a natural thing to happen within this particular period of time. It was also related to the development of local Chinese collectors. They have got a lot stuff for themselves, and they didn’t know what else they could do, so a lot of them had this idea of setting up a space. You can’t tell if that particular collector will sustain his or her interest in art. One very important point is that the concept of museum we are talking about in China is very different from the concept we think that we know generally. It is not something that is built to share with the public, or to carry out some kind of educational purposes. Museum is very much a privatised property in a lot of ways.

If you could have lunch with any artist, who would it be?
If I can, I would like to meet someone from the future, maybe. If I can know what art is like or what artistic concept would develop into, maybe let’s say two hundred years, then I would probably be rich or something.

 


Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.


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