Cathy Breslaw's Installation

Cathy Breslaw's Installation
Cathy Breslaw's Installation:Dreamscape

Thursday, July 16, 2015

My Generation: Young Chinese Artists - Revealing Glimpses Into Life in China at Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach CA

My Generation: Young Chinese Artists
Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach CA
On View Through October 11

Article by Cathy Breslaw
Chi Peng    Sprinting Forward 4         C-Print      55" x 81"          2004

It is a remarkable fact that the work of contemporary artists can be a powerful tool for understanding a culture, its’ people and their challenges. Having visited China several times for both business and pleasure, this exhibition made me realize how little is understood by visitors, only scratching the surface of a complex country that since the end of Mao Tse-tung’s Cultural Revolution, continues to undergo tremendous industrial, technological, political and social change. My Generation: Young Chinese Artists, curated by Barbara Pollack, represents the work of over 25 artists who were born after 1976.  Pollack, an arts journalist covering the Chinese art scene since the 1990’s, interviewed over 100 young artists from every region of China who have grown up in relative freedom and with opportunities of a rapidly expanding economy. They have been exposed to a global dialog and art movements via the internet and by historical comparison, a liberalized education at China’s art academies. The show comprises a range of painters, video artists, installation artists, photographers, and artist collectives addressing issues of alienation, identity, the effects of rapid and largely unregulated industrialization, and massive movement of the population from country to urban landscapes. In artist Ma Qiusha’s video From No.4 Pingyuanli to No.4 Tianqiaobeili, 2007, we learn about being a product of the ‘one child policy’ China enforces. In the video, Ma Qiusha stands alone in front of the camera in face to face confessions to the viewer. Through stories told in a dispassionate manner, she describes her conflicts with personal, parental and societal pressures to be successful as an ‘only child’ while holding a razor blade on her tongue. Her piece is a psychological portrait as well as a performance. Video
Flying Blue Flag by Hu Xiangqian is a light-hearted somewhat humorous yet poignant story of a young man
soliciting votes to be leader of his town, showing residents business development plans, ‘bribes’ with cigarettes, while listening to the advice of elders. Though it is a ‘false’ election on his part, folks think he is actually running for office and he manages to receive many votes. This video could be a parody on an election in any democratic country where the vote is up to its’ citizens.  Painter Qiu Xiaofei’s Utopia, an oil on canvas 118” x 157”, (2010), portrays a headless statue rising from a cluster of empty high rise buildings, desolate and devoid of people, commenting on the destructive and alienating aspects of the ‘new’ urban landscapes. In keeping with alienation of the urban landscape, photographer Chi Peng’s Sprinting Forward 4, 2004 is a C print of a naked young man in the distance, standing on stairs with his back to us, in front of a large complex of glass buildings while red birds swirl and fly above.  Another photographer Liu Di’s series of Animal Regulation C-Prints,  deal with conflicting relationships between nature and human society in the urban environment generated by rapid industrialization. Fearless, a humongous complex mixed media wall tapestry 124” x 253” (2012), by Xu Zhen, contains a combination of Chinese imagery as well as western images of political cartoons, a portrait of Nietzsche, and the head of Medusa, pointing to influences of the west on China as well as the west’s preconceived notions about China’s cultural identity. These descriptions are only a small selection of the over 100 works contained in this richly constructed exhibition.  These young artists are technically sophisticated and are among this generation’s celebrated Chinese artists helping to define and converse, and to wrestle and identify with the challenges and progress being made in a globally aware culture with multi-dimensional concerns.
Liu Di    Animal Regulation No. 4    C print      23" x 31"     2010
    Qiu Xiaofei    Utopia    oil on canvas    118" x 157"    2010

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