The artist in the group exhibition “Tales Of Our Time” challenge the conventional understanding of place. By portraying often-overlooked cultural and historical narratives, they explore concepts of geography and nation-state. Their works address specific locations, such as their hometowns, remote borderlands, or a group of uninhabited islands, as well as abstract ideas, such as territory, boundaries, or even utopia.
By Dimitris Lempesis
Photo: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
For the group exhibition “Tales Of Our Time”, Guggenheim Museum in New York commissioned Chia-En Jao, Kan Xuan, Sun Xun, Sun Yuan & Peng Yu, Tsang Kin-Wah, Yangjiang Group, and Zhou Tao to create new works. Working in a range of mediums, including Video, Sculpture, Installation, Mixed Media on paper, and participatory intervention, these artists are unified by their distinctive and independent practices that poetically balance politics and aesthetics. Featuring the new commissioned works, the exhibition offers a heterogeneous view of contemporary art from China and explores tensions between individual narratives and the constructions of mainstream history. Chia-En Jao’s project-based practice stretches across different mediums. After studying, working, and exhibiting in Europe, Jao returned to Taipei. This international experience informs his perspective on the particular conditions of Taiwan’s political, economical, and social situation. His practice, deeply rooted in his local surroundings, has more recently delved into colonial histories and the cross-cultural tensions in the Asia Pacific region. Sun Xun studied printmaking at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou. His interest in traditional modes of representation, such as ink painting and woodcut printing, is reflected in the deft craftsmanship of his animated films. Energetic and hand-drawn, his films are composed of up to five thousand single frames. Layered with metaphors and references, Sun’s work unravels concepts such as time, history, revolution, myth, and humanity through surreal imageries and fantastical episodes. Sun Yuan and Peng Yu are collaborators since 2000, the artists draw inspiration not only from major international social and political events, but also from local news, close friends, and neighbors. Their practice is rebellious and whimsical, addressing provocative topics with a touch of humor and a very individual brand of realism. Tsang Kin-Wah migrated to Hong Kong at the age of six. After completing his undergraduate degree in fine art the Chinese University of Hong Kong, he moved to London for a master’s degree in book arts at the Camberwell College of Arts, the London Institute. This sojourn in the United Kingdom and his subsequent return to Hong Kong—where Tsang has since resided, propelled him to ruminate on questions of identity and existence, especially the interplay between appearance and truth. Yangjiang Group was formed by Zheng Guogu, Chen Zaiyan and Sun Qinglin, that work away from the better-known cultural, economic, and political centers. Such critical distance allows them to create an autonomous zone, cultivating an independent spirit and approach in pursuit of political and social freedom through art practice. Known for playfully attacking traditional Chinese calligraphy and subverting socio-cultural conventions and values, the group produces works in many mediums, such as painting, multimedia installation, performance, and social gatherings. Places and communities in massive flux provide the visual and narrative materials for Zhou Tao’s arresting video works, which are often presented in exhibitions alongside his sketches, drawings, and photographs. His practice includes transforming ordinary surroundings into theaters, where he superimposes and interchanges background and stage, viewer and actor, fact and storyline, documentation and representation.
Info: Curators: Hou Hanru & Xiaoyu Weng, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 5th Avenue, New York, Duration 4/11/16-11/3/17, Days & Hours: Fri & Sun–Wed 10:00–17:45, Sat, 10:00-19:45, www.guggenheim.org