Chinese Pavilion at 57th Venice Biennale announces artists

Tradition and innovation will mark works in the Chinese Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale.

Curated by artist and curator Qiu Zhijie, the Chinese Pavilion’s exhibition will be entitled “Continuum – Generation by Generation”, featuring four artists.

Qiu Zhijie. Image courtesy Phoenix Art media.

Qiu Zhijie. Image courtesy Phoenix Art media.

The China Pavilion at this year’s edition of the Venice Biennale, running from 13 May to 26 November 2017, will be curated by artist and curator Qiu Zhijie (b.1969), Dean of the School of Experimental Art at China’s Central Academy of Fine Arts. The theme of this year’s exhibition will be “Continuum – Generation by Generation” and will include the works of four artists namely Tang Nannan, Wu Jian’an, Wang Tianwen and Yao Huifen.

In an interview with Phoenix Art media’s Zhang Fu, Qiu explained that to him the theme of the Pavilion is not about the work of a single Chinese artist but a collective creative process that has lasted over 5000 years. Qiu revealed that he plans to organise a comprehensive cross-cooperation among the four artists for the Chinese Pavilion. Each of the four participating artists will cooperate with the other three artists. They will also work together on a large multimedia show. He says they plan to set up a special area to show the interconnectedness of all these artists and their teachers that influenced them and their teachers in turn.

In answer to Wang Fu’s question as to how he understands this year’s them “Viva Arte Viva”, Qiu responded that the title can easily be misconstrued as emphasising the idea of individual artist’s ability. He believes, that this is not the case and that Christine Macel not only emphasises the artist’s working capabilities but that she also stresses that the art circle is not closed. That the artist acts as a link and an intermediary.

Tang Nanan. Image courtesy Artron.

Tang Nanan. Image courtesy Artron.

Tang Nannan’s (b. 1969, Fujian Province) core theme revolves around nostalgia in modern urban settings. His works also touch upon time and memory, myths and poetry, as well as nostalgia around the themes of life and death. He is also concerned with contemporary life and his own life experiences and incorporates these in his practice, which encompasses ink painting, installation, photography and multi-screen video projection. His ink works range from figurative to landscape to abstracted scenes.

He obtained a PhD from the School of Inter-Media Art of the China Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou where he now works as an associate professor. He also teaches at the Art College of Jimei University.

Artist Wu Jian’an. Image courtesy Chambers Fine Art.

Artist Wu Jian’an. Image courtesy Chambers Fine Art.

Wu Jian’an (b. 1980, Beijing) combines traditional Chinese folk art with contemporary sensibilities. His gallery Chambers Fine Art (Beijing and New York) describes his oeuvre in these terms:

Wu Jian‘an has established himself as a unique figure in contemporary Chinese art. Having chosen paper-cut as his primary means of expression in his early work, he has continued to use this technique in increasingly complex multilayered compositions and installations that frequently utilize thousands of components. Simultaneously, the range of references embodied in his works has grown enormously, embracing a multitude of mytho-logical, esoteric and contemporary references.

Wu is currently an associate professor and a graduate student supervisor in the Department of Experimental Art at the China Academy of Fine Art. He is also a member of the Experimental Art Committee of China Artists Association. Moreover, Wu works as a researcher at the Chinese Traditional Techniques Research and Preservation Center, at Prince Kung’s Palace Museum, under the Ministry of Culture in China.

Fan Dian, President of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), says of Wu:

Wu has…endowed the ancient culture and traditions with a new vitality, which makes him an outstanding representative in the field of contemporary art, with a focus on the transformation and innovation of traditional resources.

Arts and Crafts Master of shadow puppet carving Wang Tianwen. Image courtesy greatseed.com.

Arts and Crafts Master of shadow puppet carving Wang Tianwen. Image courtesy greatseed.com.

Wang Tianwen was born in Shaanxi Province and is a state-level Arts and Crafts Master of China of shadow puppets. The craft of shadow puppet carving is on the National Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Wang is said to have a deep understanding of the process of puppet carving and is considered well versed in the history of shadow play in Shaanxi. He is a key figure who inherited the “Carving with Moving Leather” technique, as well as being known for his innovation in this field. He also devotes time to collecting and reproducing lost puppet designs, as well as identifying and repairing old puppets.

Senior Research Fellow and craftsman of Su embroidery Yao Huifen. Image courtesy greatseed.com.

Senior Research Fellow and craftsman of Su embroidery Yao Huifen. Image courtesy greatseed.com.

Yao Huifen (b. 1967) is Senior Research Fellow and craftsman of China’s famous Su embroidery and a National Intangible Cultural Heritage successor. Born in Jiangsu Province in 1967, she is the fourth generation descendent of the “Needle God” Shou Shen. Yao has practiced the art of embroidery for more than thirty years. She is said to be proficient in a variety of embroidery techniques, specializing in portraits and Chinese freehand ink painting embroidery. Some of the collections where her work can be found include the British Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, University of London.

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Other Chinese artists that will be part of its main exhibition entitled “Viva Arte Viva” and curated by Christine Macel will comprise of Geng Jianyi (b. 1962), Guan Xiao (b. 1983), Hao Liang (b. 1983), Liu Jianhua (b. 1962), Liu Ye (b. 1964) and Zhou Tao (b. 1976).

Nooshfar Afnan

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Related Topics: Chinese artists, biennales, news, events in Venice, 57th Venice Biennale

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