Contemporary Chinese art is a hot topic. Emerging Chinese artists are being backed by major galleries, collectors are investing heavily, Haunch of Venison are preparing for an exhibition at the end of the year while Tate Liverpool currently hosts The Real Thing: Contemporary Art from China. It seems everywhere you turn in the art world you encounter contemporary Chinese art, but how can you tell the must-have pieces from simple good workmanship? China Art Book has the solution. The first comprehensive overview of China’s contemporary art scene, it presents the eighty most important and influential artists of today whilst predicting the stars of tomorrow.
The contemporary Chinese art scene has developed rapidly over the last decade with new galleries opening all the time. Greater market freedom and modern technology have played their part in making China’s art market accessible while improved freedom of expression has increased its diversity and appeal. But the sceptical may consider the real key to the current boom to be price, recent works have been sold for astronomical sums of money which has drawn increasing attention to the market. Once considered off-track and exotic, contemporary Chinese art has today gained extraordinary esteem.
China Art Book explores such influences and their effects on China’s contemporary art scene, as well as the effects of the cultural revolution. Many of todays artists lived through those changes but are only now finding a public outlet for the art used to explore their experiences. Artists are returning from long stays abroad looking to share in the boom at home, their experience further fuelling both the rapidly growing art scene and the popular debate over the West’s influence. Many artists combine deeply personal experiences and Chinese beliefs with influences from the West, Zhang Xiaogang for example. Probably the best-known artist of his generation, Zhang bases his art on the combination of family photographs, traditional Chinese portraiture and the work of Belgian surrealist René Magritte. In the pieces selected for China Art Book, Zhang plays with the concept of identity painting emotionless figures in black and white with just a splash of colour across their faces.
‘New’ genres like conceptual art, video works and installations are increasingly shown alongside the more traditional mediums of painting and sculpture. Celebrated performance artist Cang Xin, a bona fide shaman, takes performance art to a new level using his work to promote harmony between himself and nature. In the featured work, Communication, Cang connects with the world through his tongue – a most sensitive part of the body – promoting an ‘at oneness’ and understanding between himself and his location.
On-going cultural development has been stimulated by the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Thousands of private and public galleries are opening across the country ensuring that contemporary Chinese art will go on growing for many years to come. What better time to get to know the big names of today and tomorrow? China Art Book holds the key to everything you need to know about China’s fast-growing art scene.
About the editors:
Uta Grosenick studied history of art and literature; worked as organiser and curator of exhibitions. Editor of such internationally distributed books as Art at the Turn of the Millennium, Women Artists, Art Now, International Art Galleries: Post-War to Post-Millennium and Art Now Vol 2.
Caspar H. Schübbe studied law and history of art, works as a developer and start-up financier. Caspar Schübbe is the founder of a sculpture park and museum at Canton Valais in Switzerland.