Updated: Jan 19
Can't hold myself from publishing few more pages of DSL book! And of course special thanks to Sylvain Levy for letting me share this beautiful content.
OLD GHOSTS NEW SPIRITS
This section looks at the controversial and provocative figures of the Chinese art scene from the 1980s to the early 1990s.
Regarded as the first decade of contemporary Chinese art, the 1980s, a decade of general opening and relative liberalism was a period of exceptional creative fervour and artistic experimentation. An unprecedented access to a range of newly translated and published Western literature, philosophy and art, as well as to re-editions of traditional Chinese books allowed the artists to develop new languages and concepts. Using their new stylistic and conceptual tools the artists dealt with their “old ghosts”, like for example recent history, in particular the Cultural Revolution, or with socialist realism and what they called the excess of meaning, the semantic redundancy of their culture.
They developed their individual utopias alongside the official utopia of the modernization of Chinese society and culture. The resulting proliferation of artistic activity makes it difficult to generalise this period, particularly since it was a nation-wide, decentralised movement with groups of artists coming together to exhibit works in areas as diverse as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Hunan, Hebei, Hangzhou or again Xiamen. Yet, the artistic endeavours of this decade share a common ambition – to break away from traditional norms and to develop a new culture: Old ghosts making their way for New Spirits.
Ghosts in the machine
This chapter reunites works developing autonomous artistic positions, positions of resistance, difficult to digest within the general system. Even though these positions often act from the margins, they have the potential to change the long- term behavior and the conditions of the system. They represent a kind of erratic factors, unpredictable apparitions, mistakes - ghosts - modifying in the end the course of events.
2005.03.05 is a single project that comprises a series of different artworks. The use of the opening date as the exhibition’s title signifies the handover of the exhibition by the artist to the general public. Using a large number of apples, bananas, and artificial materials for various site-specific installations, Gu encourages the audience to participate in the exhibition. The audience can consume the fruit at will and thus become included in the process of reshaping the artwork as the exhibition progresses. Deliberately placed inside gallery’s atrium is a large-scale plinth. A close examination shows that the plinth was conceived with the proportion of the whole atrium in mind. One would normally expect to see a classical sculpture on the top of it to sanctify the architecture of that space. Gu subverts such a trope by painting the plinth with bright red paint, thereby making the object self-referential. Furthermore, Gu deflates the imposing spectacle of such an out-of-proportion plinth by placing a "sea" of bananas on the marble floor. Within a short time, the rotting bananas have left their marks on the marble floor. If the very identity of the atrium is derived from the art object, Gu’s strategy is to counter this architectural conceit with a completely natural phenomenon. The viewer is confronted with a sense of helplessness, witnessing thousands of bananas gradually rotting away.
2005.03.05 (left) Installation, Canvas - H: 350; Base - 150, W: Canvas - 250; Base - 150, D: Base 150 2005.
Artist statement "The way the audiences perceive an artwork or an exhibition should not be confined by the use of language. From my personal perspective, the inscription of a date also signifies the opening or closing of an event. For me, this date is a closing. But for others, it is a beginning."
2004.05.09. Installation. 10,000 porcelain vehicles. 2004.
A simple wooden chair that could have been found in any ordinary room; painted in bright red with a black rubbish bag carelessly crumpled on the seat. The entire front of the chair and rubbish bag appear to be encrusted with red molecules. It is only on closer inspection that one notices the shape of the rubbish bag. Contrary to initial glance, the bag forms the shape of a woman's breasts. Strategically covering both breasts, the red droppings also form a distinctive bikini-like shape that flow over the edge of the seat. Using his characteristic combination of shock and humour, Gu is raising an existential question about the female body and sexuality.
Diminutive god statues became very popular during the gambling craze in Taiwan during the 1980s. These statuettes were believed to be able to come up with the winning numbers. After failing to deliver these winning numbers, many of the "gods" were dumped at recycling centers, similar to abandoned dogs being sent to pounds. Thus, in what seems a rather extraordinary reversal of fortune, humankind has taken the liberty to punish the gods, seemingly without fear of retribution. For this work, Peng filled the entire gallery space with 606 statuettes. In a projection on the wall, a dog recounts the tale of the deities’ passing from idolized vessels to abandoned remains, reminding us of the parallel between the god pound and its canine counterpart.
God Pound 1300 abandoned statues and a single-channel video “The Chronicle of the Misfortune Deities”. 2006.
Lim expresses his conceptual art through painting, installation and self performance. His work highlights his interest in, and critique of, the dissimilation inherent in the everyday living reality of consumerism.
Details about the further adventures Painting. Mixed media on panel. 250 x 350cm. 2009