The National Art Center, Tokyo, The National Museum of Art, Osaka,
Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, The Japan Foundation
Venues and Dates
Tokyo: The National Art Center, Tokyo
August 20, 2008 (Wed) – October 20, 2008 (Mon) Closed Tuesdays (tentative)
Osaka: The National Museum of Art, Osaka
December 9, 2008 (Tue) – March 22, 2009 (Sun) Closed Mondays (tentative)
Nagoya: Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art
April 3, 2009(Fri) – May 24, 2009(Sun) Closed Mondays (tentative)
In the late 1970s, when China started its “open door” policy, social realism in painting emerged in the Chinese art scene. In 1979 the Star Group, insisting on the freedom of artists, organized an ambitious exhibition which marked a new stage for modern art in China. From the mid-1980’s, artists in various parts of China started forming avant-garde groups. This movement, which is known as the “’85 New Wave”, created a great cultural impact on the Chinese art scene. Deriving from the Western modern art and discourse as their main source of inspiration, the ’85 New Wave artists expressed their social concerns not only in their paintings and sculptures, but also by embarking on new forms of expression, i.e. performance and installation. It was also around this time that some artists such as Cai Guoqiang and Huang Yongping emigrated abroad to further pursue their interests in this area.
The avant-garde movement peaked in February of 1989, when these artists’ works were exhibited in the “China/Avant-garde” show at the National Art Gallery, China. The exhibition was marked by the police intervention followed by the use of live ammunition. This incident, portending the Tiananmen Square Incident that occurred only a few months later, forced artists to go underground for a period of time. But from the early 1990s, those working in styles of political pop and cynical realism emerged and put China on the map of international art scene. Performance art, video art, and other forms followed. From the 2000’s onwards, Chinese contemporary art, together with the booming art market and rise of international exhibitions in the age of globalization, has become China’s symbol of its open door policy and the authority has remained a silent observer.
In Japan, introduction of Chinese contemporary art became more common from the mid-1990’s, through artists working in cynical realism and performance art. From the 2000’s, young artists’ works have been shown in several exhibitions, including the Yokohama Triennial. But a comprehensive exhibition, covering the span of about twenty years of rapid development in Chinese contemporary art scene, is yet to be organized in Japan.
This exhibition traces the historical lineage of contemporary art in China, by introducing significant artists, ranging from the established to the promising young artists. It aims to investigate and reveal which artists were influential and what activities took place in China, while the Japanese art scene was experiencing the bubble economy in the 1980’s and economic stagnation in the 1990’s. The works in this exhibition are representations of the powerful and attractive contemporary art that have emerged in China.