Market reports in recent years locate a surge in value and interest in Chinese contemporary art. Wu Guanzhong tops the list with a staggering total of $510 million. Zeng Fanzhi ranks #3 with a grand volume of $226 million; his works The Last Supper (2001) soaring to $23.3 million and Hospital Triptych No. 3 (1992) for $14.6 million. Zhang Xiaogang rakes in a total of $104 million, with signature piece Bloodline: Big Family No. 3 (1995) breaking record at Sotheby’s Hong Kong at $12 million.*
In the face of such erratic notions, what do we make of the torrent of Chinese art today?
“Beyond the Grid” participates in this dialogue through the lens of six solid artists who have paved extraordinary journeys. Acknowledging their traditional roots, and the socio-political and ideological conditions that dog them, these artists propel their visual expressivity towards internationalisation, beyond the realms of painting, and away from the overtly subversive and satirical iconographies present in the more defining styles of Political Pop and Cynical Realism—two commonly held expectations of contemporary Chinese aesthetic.
Featuring distinct works on paper by Hong Zhu An, Lin Tianmiao, Qiu Zhijie, Zhu Wei and conceptualist duo Wu Shanzhuan & Inga Svala Thorsdottir, this exhibition looks at the ways in which these individuals challenge assumptions regarding authentic “Chineseness” in art, through a survey of their creative oeuvre and explorations at STPI.
Exercising individualism outside the aesthetic grid (or system), these artists demonstrate the end of a monolithic creative model in China, steering towards changing and more mature expressions with works illustrating unique artistic sensibilities and bold experimentations in paper and print methodologies.
Enabled by the technical possibilities and spurred by the potentials of the medium, these artists achieve new directions, prescribing nuanced tastes beyond our expectations. Their works are instructive of the shifting social and cultural climate in China today.
*Eileen Kinsella, “Who Are The Top 30 Chinese Artists at Auction?”, artnet.com, 8 September 2014