Yishu - Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art

Yishu Journal’s 10th Anniversary Year – the January/February 2012 Issue Now Available

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Editor’s Note:

The pages of Yishu have often served as a voice reflecting the need for the historical grounding of contemporary Chinese art. However, with China’s booming economy and art scene, the “immediate” seems to hold a more urgent role in securing an international presence for that art. While the texts in Yishu 48 are not devoted solely to the four-decade history of China’s contemporary art history, it is something that resonates throughout this issue’s content.

Orianna Cacchione discusses a 1993 work by Xu Bing, Wu Street, and brings into question the slippery veracity of cultural translation within what was termed at the time The New Internationalism. Through the contemporary paintings of Duan Jianghua, Robert C. Morgan explores the ironic dissonance between desire for revolution and the hope for power in the US and China in the 1960s and 1970s. Two texts by Abby Chen focus on Lam Tung-pang, a Hong Kong artist who is acutely aware of the historical trajectory his city is experiencing in its shift from a British colony to its apparent absorption into the People’s Republic of China. And in spite of what appears in this context to be an unpredictable relationship with one’s identity, he suggests the climate for artistic activity has improved. Celine Lai, on the other hand, identifies the lack of viable studio space in Hong Kong as a problem in creating a healthy, productive art scene.

Marie Leduc interviews Wang Chunchen who eloquently discusses the social role of art in China both historically and in the context of today. This leads into a review by Jonathan Goodman of the first exhibition in the US to explore the pioneering art associations in mainland China who saw themselves as contemporary artists and not agents of the state. This is followed with a review by Xhingyu Chen of two exhibitions in Shanghai that propose a history of new media and video in China. Finally, we offer a review by Robert Linsley of two recent books—one by Gao Minglu and one by Ai Weiwei—that examine the ongoing problem of national identity in contemporary art.

One example of the complexity of defining this history: a number of the texts in Yishu 48 make reference to an early contemporary artists’ association in mainland China—Xing Xing Hua Hui—which is translated into either The Stars Group, The Star Society of Painting, or the Stars-Stars Association. That there is no consensus upon the official name reiterates how potentially confusing this history can become.

Keith Wallace

image (top): Lam Tung-pang, A Letter, 2006, acrylic, charcoal, and postage stamp on paper, 59 x 87 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

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