Inaugural exhibition of new art centre in Beijing’s financial district draws on ancient Chinese fable.
KWM Art Center launched in Beijing with “Somewhere Only We Know”, co-curated by Chinese artist Qiu Zhijie and sound artist Zhang Ziqian, which was originally presented at UCCA during the Robert Rauschenberg show in Summer 2016.
The inaugural exhibition of the KWM Art Center consisted of an elaborate performance on opening day and an exhibition of over 30 works by the two curators and several of their students entitled “Somewhere Only We Know”, which closed on 25 November. Co-curated by Qiu Zhijie, Dean of the School of Experimental Art at China’s Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), and famous sound artist Zhang Ziqian, guest lecturer at CAFA’s School of Experimental Art. Their students made up the performers and produced the bulk of the art works on display.
As reported by Art Radar in July of 2016 “Somewhere Only We Know” was originally conceived by first year graduate students of China’s Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) School of Experimental Art. The performance was commissioned by the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) on the occasion of their show “Rauschenberg in China” and sponsored by the KWM Art Center. The inaugural performance took place at UCCA among Rauschenberg’s monumental The ¼ Mile or 2 Furlong Piece (1981-1998). A new, revised version of the performance took place on 20 October 2016, the opening day of the KWM Art Center in the heart of Beijing’s financial district.
The live performance and accompanying exhibition reflect on the theme of “Peach Blossom Spring” and evokes a variety of artistic responses. The artworks consist partially of props and puppets used during the performance and represent a wide variety of media including painting, sculpture, installation, video and sound works. This is in keeping with one of the goals of the new KWM Art Center, which according to its press release is planning to “identify and support the best of artistic creativity of different generations and all stylistic innovations”.
Other goals of the new art centre are to “promote astute art collecting and art appreciation, host a weekly art lecture and film series, as well as present other innovative programs to engage in art and culture appreciation”.
KWM Art Center is supported by the law firm King & Wood Mallesons and a KWM Art Center affiliated private art fund. This new art initiative receives its main impetus from one of the law firms international partners Mr Handel Lee, who over the past years has been behind several high profile cultural development projects both in Shanghai and Beijing.
Somewhere Only We Know is adapted from the great Chinese poet Tao Yuanming’s (365–427) The Peach Blossom Springs. It tells the story of a fisherman’s chance encounter with an untouched and isolated “paradise” whose inhabitants live together in harmony and with nature. They live sheltered from the unrest and agitation that prevails in the outside world. The fisherman is asked by the inhabitants to keep this place a secret but upon his return he tells everyone of the paradise he has found. As a result many set out to find it, but in vain – no one ever again succeeds in finding it. The expression “Peach Blossom Spring” is often used in the Chinese language to refer to a utopian place or a land of natural beauty, of peace and prosperity.
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