Yishu - Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art

The 2011 Yishu Awards for Critical Writing on Contemporary Chinese Art

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art is pleased to announce the recipients of the Second Yishu Awards for Critical Writing on Contemporary Chinese Art. Two jurors each made an independent selection: Karen Smith, an independent curator, author, and critic who specializes in contemporary Chinese art, selected Huang Zhuan; and Hou Hanru, Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs, San Francisco Art Institute, and curator of numerous important international biennials, selected Zhu Qi. Both recipients are based in Beijing.

Each award carries a value of $5,000 CAD, and each of this year’s recipients has a text published in the current issue of Yishu. The Yishu Awards for Critical Writing were established to encourage and recognize writers who are making an outstanding contribution to understanding the history and current issues of contemporary Chinese art.

Upon graduating from the Central China Normal University History Department in 1982, Huang Zhuan studied for a master’s degree in Chinese fine art history at the Hubei Academy of Fine Art. He is currently a Professor at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Art, where he leads masters students; he also serves as Director of the OCT Contemporary Art Terminal of He Xiang Ning Art Museum (OCAT) in Shenzhen.

Huang Zhuan edited the magazine Art Trends (Meishu Sichao) from 1985 to 1987, and from 1994 to 1996, he helped to revamp Gallery Magazine (Hualang). His published works include Issues in Contemporary Art (Dangdai Yishu Wenti) (1992), The Schema, Tastes, and Values of Literati Painting (Quwei yu Jiazhi) (1993), Pan Tianshou (1998) and Ideas and Actions in the Art World (Yishu Shijie zhong de Sixiang yu Xingdong) (2010).

In her nomination, Karen Smith remarked: “Huang Zhuan has been known and respected as a writer and critic for more than two decades. Since the late 1990s, much of his most important writing has been done in conjunction with exhibitions he has curated. The point here is that Huang Zhuan has always remained close to art and to the artists themselves. It sounds obvious, but this awareness of the creative process and of the individual’s thought processes informs his writing as much if not more than conceptual or theoretical notions. . . . The influence of Huang Zhuan’s writing and criticality has been demonstrated in the initiatives he leads at OCT Art Terminal, which focuses on mentoring the next generation in a systematic and considered fashion through seminars, workshops, and curatorial projects . . . within a framework for analysis and open debate where ideas get tested and affirmed, or negated, as necessary.”

Zhu Qi, born in Shanghai in 1966, holds a doctorate degree in art history. He is a Beijing-based independent curator and art critic and has curated notable contemporary art exhibitions since the early 1990s. In addition to curating, he has written numerous critical and academic essays on contemporary Chinese art since 1994. He was the Chief Curator of the inaugural edition of the Beijing 798 Art Festival in 2007 and Artistic Director of the inaugural edition of the Beijing 798 Biennale in 2009.

Hou Hanru notes: “Zhu Qi, an independent critic and curator who has not gone through any classical beaux-arts training system, has proved to be one of the few truly critical voices who dares to take ethical and artistic positions through his consistent and audacious writings over the past two decades. He has developed the courage to confront the art scene with the most urgent and sensitive topics currently influencing it. His critical scrutiny not only covers the field of visual arts, but is extended to all cultural, and even sociopolitical, terrain, and he challenges the social consensus that has transformed artistic and intellectual production into profit-making systems. What is particularly remarkable is that Zhu Qi has brought his critical insights into profound investigations of history and philosophy, taking his work far beyond the limits of the Chinese academic discursive system. Zhu Qi’s intellectual integrity and critical consistency are also unique, and he represents an exceptional but urgently needed example in the art world today.”

The awards is a project of the Yishu Initiative of Contemporary Chinese Art and is supported by the Canadian Foundation for Asian Art, and Stephanie Holmquist and Mark Allison.

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