Chinese art

Decade of the Rabbit

March 26, 2011
Gao Rong, Unit 8, Building 5, Hua Jiadi, North Village, 2010, cloth, cotton, sponge, variable

As a second Art Month winds towards a conclusion, it’s still not clear that this initiative is winning new audiences for the visual arts. For 2010’s first-ever Art Month the program was even more packed, but the season that followed was a mortifying experience for most of the commercial galleries. It seems that all the … More


The First Emperor

December 11, 2010
Screen shot 2011-07-24 at 10.36.52 PM

For two thousand years the safest place for China’s cultural heritage has been underground. The Chinese may be proud of having the world’s oldest civilisation but they have also been the greatest destroyers and iconoclasts. In China the present has frequently been at war with the past, as the ruler of the day attempted to … More


White Rabbit: The Big Bang

December 4, 2010
Ai Weiwei, A handful of Seeds, White Rabbit Gallery, 2010, ceramic, 500kg

As a squad of entombed warriors takes up temporary residence at the Art Gallery of NSW this may be an opportune time to look at the state of Chinese art two thousand years down the track. White Rabbit, the Neilson family’s privately funded museum of contemporary Chinese art, is currently holding its third exhibition. Like … More


Shen Jiawei: From Mao to Now

November 13, 2010
Shen Jiawei, Standing Guard for our Great Motherland, 1974

It’s a sign of our ignorance about China that the term “Cultural Revolution” is used so promiscuously in the mass media. Art exhibitions, fashion shows, almost anything may be described by this catchphrase, which obviously seems ‘cool’ to a lot of people. But as Mao Zedong famously said: “a revolution is not a tea party.” … More


Australian artists tour China

October 9, 2010
The British pavilion at the Shanghai Expo

With each year China is exerting a greater attraction for Australian artists. This is not simply a reflection of the country’s status as this century’s coming super power, or the fact that the Australian economy is riding on the back of China’s insatiable appetite for resources. There is a pervasive energy in contemporary Chinese art … More


Shen Jiawei: the Art of Politics

August 1, 2010

Shen Jiawei became an artist during the Cultural Revolution, making his first major works in the service of the state, embodied in the figure of the Great Helmsman, Mao Zedong. For roughly a decade, from 1966 onwards, every aspect of daily life in China was politicised in a way that seems to defy logic. It … More


White Rabbit: The Tao of Now

May 8, 2010
Shi Jindian, wire woven motorcycle and sidecar, 2008

There is nothing like the thought of China to make one appreciate life in Australia. Our so-called ‘great population debate’ seems laughable when we put our 22.3 million inhabitants alongside China’s 1.33 billion. We may be duly concerned about the strain that overpopulation puts on the environment, on water resources and infrastructure, but China’s problems … More


I Blame Duchamp: My Life’s Adventures in Art

October 1, 2009

I Blame Duchamp: My Life’s Adventures in Art By Edmund Capon This is not the book many people have been expecting. After more than thirty years as director of the Art Gallery of NSW it might seem that Edmund Capon has earned the right to publish a lively, candid, slightly scandalous memoir. There is a … More


Ai Weiwei

May 22, 2008

Ai Weiwei has spent the past decade swimming against a tide that now looks more like a tsunami. Born in 1957, he spent his youth in the remote province of Xingjian, where his father, the poet Ai Qing, had been sent for re-education. The family was not allowed to return to Beijing until 1975, when … More


Hu Ming

July 1, 2007

“In order to build a great socialist society,” wrote Mao, in his little red book, “it is of the utmost importance to arouse the broad masses of women to join in productive activity.” If we consider the erotic overtones of the English word “arouse”, Chairman Mao’s vision of women’s role sets the scene for Hu … More