Performance art has a strong legacy in southwest China, particularly in the city of Chengdu. Sophia Kidd, who previously contributed two texts on performance art in this region (Yishu 44, Yishu 55), updates us on an art medium that has shifted emphasis over the years but continues to maintain its presence and has been welcomed by a new generation of artists.
Painting also figures strongly in Yishu 76. Julie Chun writes on Qu Fengguo, a Shanghai artist who since the 1980s has devoted his career to developing the language of abstraction in his painting. Like Ding Yi, another Shanghai artist of the same generation, he has refined rather than “explored” this genre, in this case creating a body of work that is in dialogue with the passing of time and the change of seasons. In a different vein, Cui Xiuwen, best known for her photographic scenarios of young girls going through adolescence, has more recently turned to abstraction within the context of both Chinese and Western art history.
Outside of abstraction is the idiosyncratic painting of Hangzhou artist Zhou Yilun. Danielle Shang places his work within the realm of “bad painting” and a punk aesthetic, a sensibility that has gained little traction within the mainstream and has come to represent a form of resistance to the accepted art system. Also outside of the mainstream are the paintings of Ying Yefu who brings the tradition of gongbi style painting into contemporary realms. Jacob August Dreyer discusses Ying Yefu’s work within a critique of Shanghai’s current art scene and how the artist maintains his integrity within an industry that is fixated on art as commodity.
Maya Kóvskaya interviews Raqs Media Collective, curators of the 2016 Shanghai Biennale, and queries their approach to curating a large group exhibition and how it has the potential to become an immersive experience that is propositional and conversational.
In conclusion, we present the second installment of Lu Huanzhi’s textual artwork Buried Alive, a comment upon Chinese society and the role of contemporary art within it.
Image (top): Ying Yefu, Samurai Driving Guide, 2015, gongbi ink on Chinese bast paper, 101 x 139 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Art Labor, Shanghai.