I have just returned from Changsha, Hunan for the opening of a special exhibition on December 26th. The venue was hosted by Mezzi Master bookstore complex， an interesting labyrinth of architecture with multiple levels and various layouts of stairways making the most interesting reading spaces … staircases being a metaphor for the acquisition of knowledge through reading.
The afternoon kicked of with an art talk moderated by Wu Xiaobin (head of culture and art BBK Group along with artists Zhu Zhigang (Wuhan) , Cang Xin (Beijing), myself (on the outside ) and curator Ma Yi Ying .
I spoke a few words on narrative in the visual age and how the stories which we tell ourselves define a particular time and place. Everyone loves a good story (both Ireland and China alike) and in a visual age contemporary visual artists are part of that band of storytellers. Many thanks to translator Luo Wei for helping me with this.
All the participating artists present spoke about their work. The hall was packed with a great response for questions and answers afterwards. Later we traipsed upstairs for the opening ceremony .
The opening ceremony on the next level had speeches by Mr. Wang Lin, Deputy Director of People’s Progressive Central Economic Commission, Mrs Zhang Haixia Chairperson of BBK Investment Group (BuBugao company) also spoke along with other VIPs. ………
Curator Ma Yi Ying spoke on the cultural integration of different nations with the invention of the internet. “Visual Art transforms invisible ideas, concepts and feelings into a distinctive visual form, a prediction of the art itself reflecting a concentration of changes within an entire culture.”
A wine toast was followed by a fashion show by female designer Ma Ying while the stealth-like beauties paced the floors of the exhibition space working the vast spaces of the exhibition hall, they poised high couture with that particular expression.
I was reminded of a story of how certain art schools teach artists never to smile for the camera when standing in front of their works just as the young professional models were reminding me. Sadly I was unsuccessful in this avoidance at this time and recall a memory of 15 years back in a different land smiling suddenly for a rare flash of a traffic speed camera. (It was only once) The smiling issue I guess is still a work in progress.
Ma Yi Ying as always, presented a great exhibition with many impressive artists including Cang Xin, Li Guangbo, Li Wei , Shen Jingdong, Tie Xin , Wang Guofeng, Wu Di, Xiao Ye, Zhang Zhan, and Zhu Zhigang. From the international side Denise Keele-Bedford（Australia）， Girar Bourriau (France), Carlo Bernardini (Italy), Claudio Pieronni (Italy) , Leonida De Filippi (Italy), Leonardo Cevallos (Ecuador) , Monica Lin (USA), Niamh Cunningham (Ireland) Sigurdur Gudmundsson (Iceland) and Stevens Vaughn
Wu Xiaobin, the art director, said the exhibition was more unconventional and innovative, more original than art, and more avant-garde than fashion.
Meeting new artists on projects like this is always a highlight for me. I met Wu Di environmental artist who was just returned from filming the rainforests in Yunnan, of which some film footage I got to see. Also met Wang Guo Feng whose digital pixelated scapes I have seen in previous exhibitions a few years ago at De Sarthe gallery in Caochangdi but this was the first time to meet him. Was delighted to meet again performance artist Cang Xin and see his photographic essays on identity and replacement. I am reminded of the phrase I used to hear in childhood “ walk a mile in my shoes”.
Other artists I met for the first time were such as abstract painter Zhu Zhigang from Wuhan, Zhang Zhan’s and his work of thread thin acrylics, the sweeping suspensions of Li Wei, Xiao Ye’s diverse monochromatics. I was delighted to chat with Tie Xin and his chromed surfaces (which I believe resonate partially with my own practice of portraits and underwater cityscapes). The two international female artist practitioners here in China I have known and worked on previous projects and consider good friends. Monika Lin’s golden fleece of philosophers walnuts and Denise Keele Bedfords micro/macro tree fibre works and of my own portrait of the anti war poet Ingeborg Bachman as a young girl rowing against the tide of fascism (I will be participating in an exhibition next year in Beijing on the writers Bachman and Paul Celon. )
Works by these artists will be featured in the next blog with a few words on what the artists say about their work. Please tune in, in another few days for this nugget of gold or should I call it bit coin?
I would like to say a big thank you to the sponsors at Better Life, curator Ma Yiying , Zhang Haixia (Helen), Wu Xiaobin (Vera) and also Xiang Jing (Catherine) for making this a such an enjoyable and informative event.
Sponsored by Better Life
Undertaken by Ruyi Culture and Meixi Academy
Presented by Zhang Haixia
Curated by Ma Yi Ying
Artistic Director Wu Xiaobin
Venue : L3 , Meixi Academy, Better Life Meixi Land, No 1099, Fenglin No 3 Road Changsha , Hunan.
Exhibition continues till Jan 26th 2018