Telling the story of modern and contemporary art, 27 young
Chinese artists will have a joint debut in the US next year thanks
to a cooperative program between the Tampa Museum of Art
and the Museum of Fine Arts, St Petersburg in Florida.
"Together, we recognized a unique opportunity to offer our
visitors a glimpse into the world of art in what is becoming one
of the most engaging and intriguing centers for art today," said
Todd Smith, executive director of the Tampa Museum of Art.
"This will be the largest and most significant engagement with
art from China in our history."
When Smith visited Beijing and Shanghai earlier this year, he was
struck by the freshness of the artwork he saw and the
wonderfully insightful way in which the many artists he met saw
the world within and outside of China, he said.
The exhibition focuses on a group of artists aged 26 to 37, he
said, because he felt that theirs were stories that he wanted
others to see and experience.
He began working with curator and art critic Barbara Pollack six
months ago on the original concept for this exhibition. Pollack,
who has been covering contemporary Chinese art for US art
magazines for years and began focusing on young, emerging
artists three years ago. Her book Wild, Wild East, which offers
readers a first-hand account of the expanding world of
contemporary Chinese art and the art market, was published in
Traveling to China, Pollack was so impressed by the work of
young Chinese artists and the fascinating lives they were
leading, that she caught "the bug" and wanted to do a show,
Earlier this summer the Tampa Museum of Art entered into a
partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, St Petersburg to
present the exhibition in two parts, half at each of the venues at
the same time. In total, they will show about 50 works, some of
which will be created specifically for this show.
The museums are working with several other organizations to
organize a traveling show.
The exhibition is organized to highlight several important
characteristics of the art being produced by this young
generation, addressing issues ranging from the generation gap
and the difficulties of intimate relationships to the urbanization
of the Chinese landscape and pessimism about political
In addition, the exhibition also argues that the commonly held
view of artists as narcissistic, apolitical, and unengaged needs
to be rethought.
"As the international art world has become more
interconnected and collectors around the world have greater
and greater access to information about artists around the
block and around the world, it is inevitable that collectors in the
US will grow in their interest and knowledge of contemporary
Chinese artists," Smith said.
"This exhibition is meant as an introduction for US collectors and
museum goers to a generation of Chinese artists who have
begun to establish careers within China, throughout Asia and
who have just started to find followings in the US and Western
Europe," he said.
Contemporary Chinese artists have begun to be shown fairly
regularly in galleries and museums in New York or Los Angeles,
but in a city like Tampa, most of US visitors have very little
knowledge about China's latest art movements.
"It is important to bring these artworks from China to our
museum-goers, and perhaps through this exchange, our visitors
will get a better understanding of what is happening in China,
beyond the news headlines," he said.
Many people in the US, even with little knowledge of Chinese
contemporary art, probably have the impression that Chinese
artists are still fascinated by the "cultural revolution" (1966-76).
But this younger generation goes beyond these first impressions,
creating works with a greater range of styles and issues, he said.
"I believe that these works, made in the last ten years, will be
more accessible to US audiences because they demonstrate a
wider range of individuality and personal expression," he said.
Younger artists are also more knowledgeable and comfortable
with international art movements and are therefore more easily
understood by Western audiences, he added.