Chinese art

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


Go Figure! Contemporary Chinese Portraiture

October 13, 2012
Yu Youhan, ‘Untitled (Mao Marilyn)’, Oil on canvas, 2005. 150 x 149 cm

There is a simple explanation as to why Chinese contemporary art is so relentlessly satirical: 27 years of ideological rectitude, including that final decade of Mao-induced madness known as the Cultural Revolution. From the time the Communist Party took over in 1949 there was nothing much to laugh about. The workers paradise had been achieved, … More


18th Biennale of Sydney

July 14, 2012
Sachiko Abe: Cut Papers # 13, 2012

One of the most striking images in the 18th Biennale of Sydney is that of Japanese artist Sachiko Abe, dressed in bridal white, sitting in a small brick building in Cockatoo Island, cutting paper. Visitors are asked to remain silent, so the only sound is the noise made by Abe’s scissors as she trims sheets … More


18th Biennale of Sydney

July 7, 2012
Liu Zhuoquan: Where are you? (2012) MCA installation

“Between belief in Nature and belief in politics, one has to choose,” writes French sociologist, Bruno Latour, in the stand-out essay in this year’s Biennale catalogue. We have a perfect demonstration of this principle in the hysterical debate about a carbon price. While Nature is forever, politics is an exercise in short-term, strategic thinking that … More


Down the Rabbit Hole

June 9, 2012
Screen shot 2012-06-22 at 3.46.56 PM

Last year, according to The New York Times, 395 museums were built across China. As with most things in this vast, mysterious country, the statistics give only a superficial glimpse of the complexities involved. Firstly one might question the Chinese definition of “museum”, which may be a grandiose word for a lot of small-scale enterprises. … More


Brian Wallace

January 14, 2012
Chen Qingqing (senior artist), No and Keng

Over the past two decades Chinese art has made inroads into the Australian museum and gallery world, prompting Brian Wallace of Bejing’s Red Gate gallery, to put together a travelling exhibition for his native land. To welcome in the year of the Dragon, the City of Sydney will host Two Generations – 20 years of … More


Tokujin Yoshioka, Shen Shaomin & Chun Kwang-Young

December 3, 2011
Tokujin Yoshioka, Waterfall installation

There is an emerging trend in town: slipper art, and it has nothing to do with the new Speaker in Federal Parliament. At two venues this week the viewer is asked to slip a protective covering over his or her shoes, so as not to soil the art. This is slightly at odds with the … More


German idols

November 5, 2011
mgb11_ai_wei_wei_16_portrait_LIGHTHOCH

In Germany, Ai Weiwei is the new Joseph Beuys. I arrived at this conclusion in Berlin, after seeing an exhibition of film footage of Joseph Beuys in Japan, at the Hamburger Bahnhof; and a show of 220 photos by Ai Weiwei, at the Martin-Gropius Bau. I’ve been in Deutschland for a conference on the Chinese … More