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'Turning Point – 40 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art' at Long Museum West Bund

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'Turning Point – 40 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art' at Long Museum West Bund
Installation view of 'Turning Point – 40 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art'. Image courtesy of Long Museum

The Long Museum at West Bund presents ‘Turning Point – 40 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art’ from 16 June to 7 October 2018, showcasing around 100 significant works by Chinese contemporary artists. Artists in this exhibition include Cai Guoqiang, Cao Fei, Zeng Fanzhi, Chen Yifei, Chen Zhen, Ding Yi, Fang Lijun, Gu Wenda, He Duoling, Li Shuang, Liu Wei, Liu Xiaodong, Song Yonghong, Wang Guangyi, Xu Bing, Yue Minjun, Zhang Xiaogang and Zhou Chunya.

The works exhibited have been made after 1978, when China began it process of Chinese Economic Reform and Opening-up, with its milestone opening of the Third Plenary Session. This year also saw a turning point for China’s history, alongside prodigious pathways in Chinese contemporary art.
 

Installation view of 'Turning Point – 40 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art'. Image courtesy of Long Museum  

The Twelve Men Exhibition and Stars Art Exhibition triggered the start of Chinese contemporary art in 1979, becoming the two iconic exhibitions that eventually initiated various types of art groups and exhibitions that later emerged throughout China. They revived “human nature” and “the spirit of freedom”, further enabling artists to produce works creatively. The movements that followed as a result were Scar Art, Local Realism and 85 New Wave, all appearing one after another. However, the China Modern Art Exhibition held by the National Art Museum of China terminated these avant-garde movements in 1989.

Installation view of 'Turning Point – 40 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art'. Image courtesy of Long Museum  

In the early 1990s came the evolution of Chinese contemporary art where its traction was incredibly rapid under an utterly new social and cultural framework. Chinese contemporary art slowly merged into the context of globalization, after its participation in the 1993 Venice Biennale and 1994 São Paulo Biennial. What additionally triggered intense discussions about post-colonial discourse, regional experiences and issues around “international identities” of Chinese artists were when notions of Political Pop and Cynical Realism found their place in international arenas. Arriving at the 21st century, we note how China’s modernisation has made Chinese contemporary art more complex and changeable. With regards to concepts and techniques, Chinese contemporary art has found its way in synchronizing with the rest of the world. Chinese artists have increasingly and consistently affirmed their identities, creating art that reflects on current social relations and self-viewing.

Installation view of 'Turning Point - 40 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art'. Image courtesy of Long Museum

‘Turning Point – 40 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art’ takes a chronological approach. Selected from the Long Museum’s collection, the 100 artworks that have been chosen highlight influential milestones amongst the last 40 years. These include oil paintings, traditional Chinese paintings, sculptures, videos and installations. Falling in tune with the 40th anniversary of Chinese Economic Reform and Open-up, this exhibition displays the history of Chinese art since 1978; these are divided into four chapters: 1978-1984, 1985-1989, 1990-1999, and post-2000s. This exhibition seeks to not only portray the artistic practices and explorations of Chinese artists but also the “vigour and vitality” of Chinese art. The Long Museum states that they hope the exhibition will “bring its audience a deeper understanding of the spirit and uniqueness of Chinese contemporary art”.

Commenting on ‘Turning Point – 40 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art’, Lv Peng, a Chinese art historian and art critic states that, “this exhibition proves that the 40-year art history is barely a turning point in the history. It’s a new start, we should appreciate the past achievements and in the meantime clarify the real mission for a brighter future”.

 

‘Turning Point – 40 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art’ is on show at the Long Museum at West Bund until 7 October 2018.
For more information, click here. 



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