The Hohhot Experience -The First International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Inner Mongolia



This was my first visit to a snow covered Hohhot, the exhibition was held in the south campus of the University of Inner Mongolia. As a participating artist I had just arrived (by the skin of my teeth) on the overnight train for the 10 am opening ceremony on Monday morning, Dec 14th.



I was showing some of my  portraits  from the Transparent Milk Series  which I based on the young generation of China. I taught all of these young students during my first year in China, some were tutored individually so I knew them well and others were from art workshops at a migrant school. Before this point my portraits were heavily saturated  in colour but I needed to paint my students differently.  I began to paint my students in milk colours  in reference to the earlier story of powder milk contamination.

N & work 2









This exhibition titled “Recombination and Mutation of Gene” was curated by Gu Zhenqing and Wu Rijin. Four of the participating artists  at this exhibition are Irish Wave Artists: Jia YouGuang, Ma Yanling, Fion Gunn and myself.

Girl with rabbit






On the second floor the Danish artist group “Corner” showcased a large number of works, this was organised by Lars Ravn with the support of artist Tong Wang.

One of my personal favourites was this tiny stone sculpture no taller than 10 cms by  Jens- Peter Kellermann. It was accompanied by several other pieces .


Ding Xin Hua from Yanan combines photography and oil painting. His work merges everyday situations with interesting surrealism .

















He said he is “searching for some elusive truth in the image” resulting in some interesting juxtapositions. The different polarities of photography and painting sit so well together here.  I feel these works have that magic that makes you want to return just to check again if you saw what you think you saw.
Tong Wang


Tong Wang has lived in Sweden for 20 years and since 2006 often returns to work here in China for parts of the year. His large scale works above include large modelled female figures merging humour with a Chinese vs West dichotomy.

Fion Gunn - Falling on Beijing, paper, acrylic, gold leaf, 220x180cm




Falling on Beijing by Fion Gunn  is part of a series of work based on the idea of falling as a metaphor for how we react to what happens in our lives, do we embrace it or fight against it.







Chen Xue Gang is an animation director living outside Songzhuang, Beijing. His 10 minute video art made me think of the mountain of drawings required to photograph in sequence. We sample the fantasy animation of the GIF internet generation where  the hurdy gurdy motions , rhythms and rotations, pulsing lights which can oddly transform from chaotic dazzle to a strange calming effect.


Chen Xuegang


















Jia Youguang ‘s two banners stretching 6 meters long called “Blind Spell” is based on ancient Mongolian folk songs. The lettering made from asphalt , industrial lino, hair and glass glue . The work explores cultural changes that exists with ethnic civilizations.  Interestingly it is Inner Mongolia that retains the traditional Mongolian script while in Mongolia the Khalkha dialect is written in Cyrillic.


Guan Weis work

















Guan Wei’s work called Enigma is the search for a spiritual home. The centre boats brimming with human cargo echoes current media images of the Mediterranean sea this year. Guan says the surrounding animal and human universal constellations are a guide for the cargo of humanity guiding them to a needed home. A year or so ago I had first come across Guan Wei’s work with his “Promised Land” series where he poses the question who did the promising and to whom was it promised?


The exhibition was organised by:

Inner Mongolia Art Centre, Inner Mongolia Taisho consultative Investment Management Lt  and Ordos Contemporary Art Center

Chinese ArtRon link