Yishu - Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art

Yishu Journal – the July 2010 Issue Now Available

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Beijing and Shanghai are generally considered the primary centres for contemporary art in mainland China. But there are other cities that have dynamic and distinctive art scenes. Guangzhou is one of them. Several of China’s most significant contemporary artists have emerged from there, but many of them have moved to Beijing, leaving behind something of a cultural void. Yishu 39 includes three texts covering a generation of younger artists and initiatives that are bringing about a renewed interest in this city and region and who are making art that is different from that found further north.

One current that runs through Yishu 39 is of what represents “Chineseness” in contemporary art, a question that is unlikely to reach resolution anytime soon. It is the primary subject of J. P. Park’s essay, in which the more obvious and expected manifestations of what constitutes Chineseness are taken to task with the suggestion that the notion’s parameters require rethinking. Tianyue Jiang’s text on the important Chinese modernist, Lin Fengmian, takes a more historical perspective by examining the influence of Cubism and the inherent Chineseness that remains embedded in his work in spite of his employment of a Western stylistic genre. Natasha Degan’s review of an exhibition by Zhang Enli discusses his recent paintings of mundane objects and scenes that can be found most anywhere in the world and argues that because of their universal iconography, there is nothing recognizably Chinese about his work.

Gu Wenda and Zhang Huan are featured with new work that provides us with an update on two leading artists who are realizing increasingly ambitious projects. Beatrice Leanza and Micki McCoy, with their reviews of two very different kinds of exhibitions, one in Beijing and one in San Francisco, one contemporary and one historical, bring into consideration how curatorial strategies affect the conception and reception of group exhibitions. In November of 2009, the Contemporary Art Academy of China was inaugurated, and many are curious to know more about it and what it means; Christina Yu offers a text on the debates that have emerged around it during the past few months and the impact the Academy may have on contemporary art in China.

Keith Wallace

photo (top): Gu Wenda, china park. it is not just green china, it is china green. Courtesy of the artist.

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