A cultural revolution: UCCA’s “ON | OFF” young China artists exhibition – picture feast

UCCA’s sprawling survey of young artists stresses individual practice over trend-watching.

Beijing’s Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art (UCCA) has opened up its entire exhibition space for the show “On | Off: China’s Young Artists in Theory and Practice”, which will run from 13 January to 14 April 2013. The survey is the most comprehensive show, to date, of artwork by young and mid-career Chinese artists born after the Cultural Revolution.

Yang Xinguang, 'Hello', 2013, branches, styrofoam. Photo by Dora Tang, courtesy of UCCA.

Yang Xinguang, ‘Hello’, 2012, branches, styrofoam. Photo by Dora Tang, courtesy UCCA.

Curated by Bao Dong and Sun Dongdong, the exhibition brings together commissioned works from fifty Chinese artists born after 1975. This generation of artists emerged while Chinese contemporary art practice was shifting from the underground scene of the 1990s to the more commercial and institutionalised art world seen today.

According to the UCCA exhibition text,

Today’s most notable young artists are the recipients of formal art educations, and many are gradually fitting into a rising gallery system. They exhibit a strong tendency toward self-organisation and collective practice, yet represent a wider diversity of individual subjectivities and styles than ever before seen in China. They actively participate in the emergence of new art institutions even as they question and mediate these developments. Unlike previous generations, they stay informed of international developments in real time, even as they continue to run up against a distinct and specific set of constraints and challenges.

Artists participating in the UCCA exhibition include

Installation view of "On | Off: China's Young Artists in Theory and Practice".

Installation view of “On | Off: China’s Young Artists in Theory and Practice”.

Chen Yufan and Chen Yujun, 'Mulan River | Home', 2012, wooden board, books, corrugated paper, polyester foam, plexiglass, cotton rope, 1000 cm x 890 cm x 52 cm. Image courtesy Boers-Li Gallery.

Chen Yufan and Chen Yujun, ‘Mulan River | Home’, 2012, wooden board, books, corrugated paper, polyester foam, plexiglass, cotton rope, 1000 x 890 x 52cm. Image courtesy Boers-Li Gallery.

Yang Jian, 'Sooner or Later, Lightning Will Strike Us All', 2013, video installation. Photo by Dora Tang, courtesy of UCCA.

Yang Jian, ‘Sooner or Later, Lightning Will Strike Us All’, 2011-2012, video installation. Photo by Dora Tang, courtesy UCCA.

Tang Dixin, 'Reverse', interactive installation. Photo by Dora Tang, courtesy of UCCA.

Tang Dixin, ‘Reverse’, 2012, interactive performance installation. Photo by Dora Tang, courtesy UCCA.

Li Liao, 'Consumption', 2013, performance and installation. Photo by Dora Tang, courtesy of UCCA.

Li Liao, ‘Consumption’, 2012, performance, ready-made materials. Photo by Dora Tang, courtesy UCCA.

Xin Yunpeng, 'No Problem', 2013, mixed-media installation. Photo by Dora Tang, courtesy of UCCA.

Xin Yunpeng, ‘No Problem’, 2013, PVC inflatable model, silica gel, pneumatic equipment. Photo by Dora Tang, courtesy UCCA.

He Xiangyu, 'Tank Project', 2013, leather sculpture. Photo by Dora Tang, courtesy of UCCA.

He Xiangyu, ‘Tank Project’, 2011-2013, leather sculpture. Photo by Dora Tang, courtesy UCCA.

The curators see the exhibition as not just a museum show, but also as an extensive research project. To prepare for the exhibition, they visited over 200 artist studios in cities all around the country, from Beijing to Guangzhou to Shenyang. Their investigations into the diversity of artistic practice in China was made into the documentary On | Off: Young Artists in China by filmmaker Xie Meng. The film is in Chinese with English subtitles, and it will screen at UCCA on 6 and 13 April 2013.

Wu Junyong, '7 o'clock', 2012, acrylic on wood.

Wu Junyong, ‘7 o’clock’, 2012, acrylic on wood.

Zhao Zhao, 'Repetition', stone. Photo by Dora Tang, courtesy of UCCA.

Zhao Zhao, ‘Repetition’, 2012, white marble, limestone. Photo by Dora Tang, courtesy UCCA.

Wen Ling, 'One Day in My Life', 2012, ink on paper, 109 x 79 cm / piece (20 pieces in total).

Wen Ling, ‘One Day in My Life’, 2012, ink on paper, 109 x 79cm / piece (20 pieces in total).

Jiang Pengyi, 'Everything Illuminates No. 9', 2012, achival inkjet print, 251x180cm.

Jiang Pengyi, ‘Everything Illuminates No. 9’, 2012, achival inkjet print, 251 x 180cm.

“On | Off: China’s Young Artists in Theory and Practice” will run from 13 January to 14 April 2013 at the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art in Beijing. The show is accompanied by a series of weekly panels entitled “Discrepancy and Commonalities: Regarding the Particularities of Artistic Practice”, which invites artists and other key cultural figures to discuss individualism in Chinese artistic practice.

PR/KN/HH

Related Topics: Chinese artists, museum shows, emerging artists, art in Beijing, picture feasts

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