Contemporary Art has been developed in the last two decades as a matter of business, of economic assets, objects and tastes. Treated as a targeted status symbol, it has kept on flourishing despite the economic crisis, engendering transactions and attracting aficionados and collectors worldwide. This is not an issue that necessarily implies a positive or a negative connotation, nor it is set apart from the traditional modalities by which artworks have been produced and sold in the past centuries. The proportion and the inflation of the market of the last 20 years though, are indeed to be considered as a new phenomenon.
In the Asian bourgeosified society, Contemporary Art is still positioned in a grey zone, a certain bleary place located in between the decorative taste, the investment and a certain self-image building process. It is also a blending of layers, composed by a long collectivism tradition that is now clashing with the up-and-coming globalized internationalization. Contemporary Art in Asia is strictly engaged with a superficial spectacle of the Western world, perceived in the East as the product of a baroque-like golden past, mixed with contemporary sophistication. This perception is then expressed by the aim of self-awareness and the aspiration of achieving a mature artistic taste, typical of nouveau riche societies.
The acceptance and absorption of modernization and its symbols has been mirrored over the last decades by the rapid development of venues featuring contemporary art, most of them highly influenced by the Western white box concept. Hence the artworks are presented in abstract architectural constructions that somehow alienate them, or, as some people would say, allow them to be displayed in a professional environment.
For several years now I have been flirting with the idea of exhibiting art in an alternative kind of space, not per se a gallery or a museum. The Chinese and the East Asian tradition in general, share a very particular way of showcasing artworks. It is a matter of private spaces, intimate places for the small community of friends and family members. It is conceptually thought as a place where furniture, decoration, art, books, tea and music are all part of the same empirical experience. This consideration is of course general and quite superficial, but certainly describes an extant situation that is worth highlighting, especially in China where the cultural sphere is still touched by the legacies of a millenary culture.
This exhibition curated by Rudy Tzeng in collaboration with Davide Quadrio (Arthub Asia) and with the curatorial assistance of Jenny Lee is an attempt to transport contemporary art from China within this context, making it sharing a world of “intimacy” and private space, far away from the white box experience.
To challenge this even more, the exhibition is divided in two main sections/spaces: Yi&C located in the heart of Taipei city that presents works by MadeIn, Yang Fudong, Charwei Tsai, Julika Rudelius, Yang Zhenzhong, Heman Chong, Liu Jianhua, Li Jun, Geng Jianyi, Qiu Zhijie, Jiang Pengyi, Chen Zhou and Zhou Xiaohu. These artworks are directly related with the home space, trying to challenge and powerfully engage with this place of decoration. The War Art Company, in charge of the installation, has been invited by the curatorial duo to interfere in this process as far as they could together with the artists who are in some cases (Zhang Enli and Chen Zhou for instance) producing site-specific works.
The second venue, Artrans, a new stunning facility located in Neihu that will be used Fine Art storage, it is the place to comment to the previous section via monumental works by Yang Zhenzhong and Zhang Peili and minimalist works by Li Ran, Jiang Pengyi, Heman Chong and Francesco Simeti. The works presented here deal with issues connected to private, social, transitional and psychological spaces that bring the exhibition to a much abstract and universal level of interpretation. Some of the works will be presented in this venue as a continuation of the furniture shop experience, decontextualized from the previous existence in the shop and presented in the white box space here to defy even more their artistic value and existence.
The exhibition will be later recorded in a complementary catalogue that will develop further and critically the above questions, and hopefully bring art from and within China into a much diversified context, more human and closer to the Asian sensitivity for art and its fruition.
This exhibition is an occasion to present three generations of artists from China but also international artists who are connected to this cultural world via multifaceted experiences of China in a broader sense. So, this show is not a Chinese show, it is a show on China and its diversified artist developments and directions. It is China as a platform of artistic experimentation, a place that is still under construction and, for this reason, open to new models, ideas and structure of the contemporary and its perception and value.
I would like to take this occasion to thank all the artists and the galleries that have been supportive of this project and that took the challenge of presenting their works (some) for the very first time in Taiwan together with Rudy Tseng, Jenny Lee, Lorries Chang, Angela Yi, Amber Hsieh, Mao, Guang Ming Lin and etc., for their professionalism and continuous support.
Davide Quadrio, Shanghai, October 2012
Davide Quadrio 乐大豆 after founding and managing for a decade BizArt Art Centre in Shanghai, the first not for profit independent creative lab in the city, he created in 2007 Arthub (www.arthubasia.org) a platform to organize, curate and support artistic endeavors in Asia. With BizArt and its team, and now with Arthub, he organized hundreds of exhibitions, educational activities and exchanges in China and abroad, developing relationships with local and foreign institutions worldwide. Quadrio has been consulting Bund18 Creative Space (2005-2008) curating shows such as Vivienne Westwood’s Exhibition together with V&A, the Droog Design exhibition tour China (Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing) and the solo exhibition by Olivo Barbieri, during the 2006 Shanghai Biennale. In the international arena he curated shows worldwide among others the 9th Biennale 2012, organizing the Inter-city Pavilions (30 cities worldwide with over 100 artists participating) within this project he curated Palermo, Istanbul and Bandung’s pavilions; Survival Techniques (Chulalongkorn University Art Gallery, Bangkok, 2011 and Mocp, Chicago 2012), Shcontemporary special projects (featuring artists such as Jennifer Wenma, Zhang Enli, Fx Harsono, Yto Barrada, Shilpa Gupta, Raqs media Collective and more, 2011-2012), Artissima Cinema in the Museum of Cinema, Turin (with Defne Ayas, 2007-2008) and in Florence at Palazzo Strozzi with the show China! China!China which toured to Sainsbury Art Center (2009). Davide organized a 5 days public art event for the Earts festival, October 2008 in the heart of Shanghai, Xujiahui district featuring artists such as Takeshi Murata, Feng Mengbo and Christian Marclay. In 2009, following the financial crises, Davide created an art production company called Far East Far West LTD to finance new artworks by artists in China and Asia (first production Cao Fei’s “RMB City Opera” in Turin, November 2009, the collection is now available to general public in the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago). Davide has been often invited by Universities such as Leiden University (the Netherlands), La Sapienza (Italy) and East Anglia University (UK), Academy of Fine Arts of Seoul (Korea), Frie Universitaat (Berlin), Cini Foundation (Venice) just to mention few, for lectures, workshops and presentation. Articles written by Davide appeared in various magazines, newspapers and catalogues worldwide, such as Yishu Journal, Flash Art, Artforum etc. and several academic publications. From 2011 Davide is a host lecturer at the Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts, Fudan University.