An exhibition on Chinese contemporary art opens its door to the public in Norwich, east England on Tuesday, aiming to shed some light for British audiences on a vastly changing China through the eyes of highly observant artists.
Launched at the Sainsbury Center for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia in Norwich, China China China!!! is an exhibition which features works from 18 contemporary Chinese artists, who have adopted a realistic discourse and have not been constrained by the rapid expansion in demand for Chinese artworks in recent years.
"This is very different from other exhibitions about Chinese contemporary art. The works are intimate and practical with a strong story to tell," said Li Zhenhua, co-curator for the exhibition, at a press preview held last Thursday.
"I hope visitors to the exhibition will become more curious about global culture, will consider that Chinese culture is relevant to their lives and will appreciate the artists as human beings, responding to the world around them," Li added.
China China China!!!, which has been organized by the Centro diCultura Contemporanea Strozzina in Florence, was produced by three China-based curators, who have cooperated for 10 years - Li Zhenhua, founder of the Art Lab, from Beijing, Zhang Wei, director of Vitamin Creative Space, from Guangzhou, and Davide Quadrio, founder of BizArt in Shanghai, the first and only self-supporting and non-profit cultural organization in China.
The chosen artists' work, including pieces of sculpture, painting, photography, new media and film, gives a new depth to the understanding of life in a society going through immense changes.
The exhibition is divided into three sections due to different perspectives on current art practice in China, with each curator exploring the global market for Chinese art by selecting artists who are not bound by the market's rules, but represent the complex reality of a modern China.
A gigantic Artificial Moon, produced by Wang Yuyang, dominates the Upper Gallery, illuminating it with thousands of low-energy bulbs. Wu Ershan's futuristic Nomadic Plan for Outer Space looks back at the life of Genghis Khan. Duan Jianyu's Art Chickens sit in front of watercolors of Chinese landscapes and Cao Fei explores the lonely online world of Second Life. Chu Yun's photographic work Career, however, documents government officials in their private time.
Also on display will be The Angel, a life-size sculpture by SunYuan and Peng Yu, from the Saatchi Gallery in London.
"The Angel was purchased on the international market, but the inclusion of this fallen angel in China China China!!! is a reaction to the current world economic crisis," said Li Zhenhua.
Davide Quadrio, an Italian who has lived and worked for 15 years in Shanghai, contributed to the exhibition a documentary depicting the complex reality of Shanghai's artistic scene.
"The resulting film, shown on four screens with English subtitles, appears to show the artists in discussion and challenges what we know in the West about Chinese art," said Quadrio, who does not like the generalized symbols of China embodied in the contemporary artworks now flooding the Western art market.
Amanda Geitner, head of the exhibition at Sainsbury Center, was proud to bring this exhibition to Britain.
"After a period when China has been the constant focus of international attention, we are keen to reflect on the impact of this interest, and to offer a thought-provoking show which does not simply feature artists whose work is in high demand in the West at present," she says.
The exhibition takes a long look at the impact of this global art phenomenon and features artists whose work is located beyond the boom and bust of the market. It is scheduled to run until May 3.