Chinese Painting Mania at the Arken Museum of Modern Art, Denmark

Arken Museum of Modern Art, Denmark

27 June – 27 September 2009

ARKEN presents the exhibition CHINAMANIA featuring eleven contemporary painters from China. Most of CHINAMANIA’s 24 works of art were created specially for this exhibition. Colourful, multifaceted and narrative are some of the key words that apply to all the exhibition’s works.

Yue Minjun

Yue Minjun
Outside and Inside the Stage, 2009.
Oil on canvas, 336x267cm.
© the Artist

In Tokyo you can drink green tea latte, and in Israel you can buy a kosher Big Mac. International brands are merging with national customs. This happens not only on the economic market – in contemporary art too international and national perspectives are joining in new ways.

National and international CHINAMANIA shows how contemporary painting in China both abandons and continues China’s classical art forms: ink painting, classical oil painting, woodcut and the social realism of propaganda art. At the same time the classical techniques mix with expressive brushstrokes, a sweet comics aesthetics and the realism of figure painting. In Fang Lijun’s painting 2009. no. 5 a giant fly soars across the sky with a child on its back. The painting manifests a clear parallel to classical Chinese landscape painting in which the landscape can appear dreamy and poetic. At the same time it has a touch of kitsch because of Fang’s use of a realistic painting style and very bright, strong colours.

A key trend is the mix between national and international features: On the one hand the artists consider their own lives and emotions, dealing explicitly with Chinese culture and history. On the other, they turn their gazes towards the rest of the world. A prime example is the artist Wang Guangyi. His painting Collectivism and Art (2007) shows a Communist propaganda subject featuring a band of soldiers holding Mao’s Little Red Book. Scattered across the painting are Chinese identity numbers and serial numbers from commercial products. The style resembles Pop Art. Overall Western art history is often an obvious source of inspiration. Thus, in one of the paintings shown in the exhibition, Yang Shaobin reproduces the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh’s down-at-heel shoes from the painting A Pair of Shoes (1886).

Yang Shaobin

Yang Shaobin
Untitled, 2007
Oil on canvas, 260×180cm.
© the Artist

Qi Zhilong

Qi Zhilong
Untitled, from the series Chinese Girls, 2008, 220x180cm.
© the Artist

Li Jikai

Li Jikai
Mushroom, 2009.
Acrylic on canvas, 100 cm.
© the Artist

Contemporary art puts down roots – and branches off. In recent years the contemporary art scene has seen a boom in China. This is partly due to increasing political openness in general and towards other artistic forms of expression than the propagandistic one. At the same time the economic market in China has expanded. This has increased the opportunities for sales both nationally and internationally. In the early 1990s for instance, there were only five galleries in Beijing; today there are more than a hundred.

Chinese contemporary art, however, is not merely a passive reflection of socio-political changes. Regardless of whether the artists seek towards their own intimate space or embrace the grand global perspective, it holds specific narratives of reality and testimonies of our time which cannot be boiled down to a simple – and national stereotypical – point.

CHINAMANIA represents a selection of Chinese contemporary painters: From established artists to the very young generation: Fang Lijun / Yue Minjun / Yang Shaobin / Wang Guangyi / Zhang Xiaogang / Zhou Chunya / Mao Yan / Qi Zhilong/ Liu Ye / Li Jikai / Wei Jia

Images © The Artists


Stampfli & Turci – Art Dealers

Disclaimer & Copyright


~ by Stampfli & Turci on July 16, 2009.

3 Responses to “Chinese Painting Mania at the Arken Museum of Modern Art, Denmark”

  1. fantastic work

  2. Hello.

    I would like to put a link to your site on my blog roll if you want to do the same for mine. It would be a good way to build up both of our readerships.

    thank you.

  3. Hi
    Seems you are interested in chinese art, we just lauched a website on a private chinese collection which represents 90 of the most important contemporary artists and we would be very happy to have your comments and inputs

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