Chinese art

White Rabbit: Ritual Spirit

October 6, 2017
Peng Hung-Chih, 'Farfur the Martyr' (2009)

Last week I was in China meeting artists from each end of the contemporary art spectrum. In Suzhou I saw a breathtaking show of brush-and-ink painting by Li Huayi (b.1948) an artist who has divided his life between China and San Francisco. In Shanghai I visited Xu Zhen (b.1977), one of the most successful artists … More


White Rabbit: The Dark Matters

April 29, 2017
Tang Nannan, Billenium Waves (2015)

Contemporary culture puts a premium on instant gratification but ancient Chinese thinkers found the greatest value in the contemplation of eternal things. This was brought home to me by Tang Nannan’s Dao-inspired, wide-screen video, Billenium Waves (2015) at the White Rabbit Gallery. It’s nothing more than a four-minute close-up of waves lapping under a dark … More


White Rabbit: Vile Bodies

November 11, 2016
Li Shan, Recombinant, (2002-2006). Image courtesy the artist and White Rabbit Collection

Vile Bodies is a catchy title but there are very few points of comparison between Evelyn Waugh’s novel about the party-going lifestyles of young Londoners in the 1920s, and the current exhibition at the White Rabbit Gallery. In a Chinese context the word “party” takes on an entirely different connotation, and unless you’re on the … More


Tang

June 10, 2016
Tang: Treasures from the Silk Road Capital showing at Art Gallery of NSW

Mention the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE) and I think of Robert Van Gulik’s character, Judge Dee – the Sherlock Holmes of ancient China. Di Renjie (c.630-c.700) was a real magistrate of the Tang period but became the fictionalised hero of a series of detective stories set in those times. The inspiration came from a story … More


White Rabbit: State of Play

June 20, 2015
State of Play exhibition at the White Rabbit Gallery (installation view) (2015)

Certain nations are not renowned for their playfulness. Nicht wahr? Yet this is not the case with the Chinese who found out many years ago the only way to make life bearable is to laugh about it. The Chinese sense of humour is robust and dark. It may have been this way from time immemorial, … More


A Golden Age of China

May 30, 2015
Giuseppe CASTIGLIONE
Italian 1688–1766, worked in China 1714–66. Portrait of Qianlong Emperor in ceremonial court robe Qing dynasty, Qianlong period 1736 coloured inks on silk 238.5 x 179.2 cm (image and sheet). The Palace Museum, Beijing.

Imagine a painting titled: Tony Abbott admiring lotus while playing a zither, and you have glimpsed the cultural chasm that separates our world from that of the Qianlong Emperor. While the rulers of the Qing Dynasty (1644 -1911) were careful to surround themselves with symbols of conquest and martial prowess, they were equally assiduous in … More


Art Basel Hong Kong 2014

May 24, 2014
Art Basel on May 15, 2014 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Hong Kong, China. Photo by Xaume Olleros / Art Basel

Never has brand power been more in evidence at an art event than at Art Basel Hong Kong 2014. This was the seventh incarnation of this popular fair, but only the second under the ownership of the company responsible for the two biggest contemporary art fairs in the world – Art Basel and Art Basel … More


White Rabbit: ‘Serve the People’ & Li Jin

October 19, 2013
Jin Feng, History of China's Modernisation Volumes 1 and 2, 2011, rubber, marble, rice paper, dimensions variable (detail)

Serve the People was the theme of a speech given by Mao Zedong in September 1944, while the Red Army was still engaged in combat with the Japanese. One year later the invader was defeated and the Communist forces would be renamed “the People’s Liberation Army”. In the years that followed, the PLA would battle … More


White Rabbit: Smash Palace

May 4, 2013
Zhou Jie, CBD, 2010

Every exhibition at White Rabbit, the Neilson family’s private museum of contemporary Chinese art, has featured at least one show-stopper. The tour-de-force in the current show, Smash Palace, is Cheng Dapeng’s Wonderful City (2011-12), a 9.6 metre-long 3D print. On a long, light-box table, Cheng has placed a scale model of a city overrun with … More


Shen Jiawei: Brothers and Sisters

December 15, 2012
Shen Jiawei, Shen's Brothers and Sisters Part 1: Revolution (2010-2012), features 128 figures

In the mythology of Maoist China no event is more important than The Long March. It is the foundation story of the People’s Republic even if there is no separating fact from fiction. The March began in October 1934 when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was driven out of the small republic it had established … More