The Real Thing , Contemporary Art from China

  • 2008.02.07-2008.04.27
    IVAM, Valencia, Spain

    In spite of the proliferation of exhibitions of contemporary Chinese art all over the world, The Real Thing Arte Contemporáneo de China (The Real Thing. Contemporary Art from China) stands out from others because of the depth and variety of the works displayed, which represent the most suggestive and relevant art produced since 2000, and for the degree of collaboration between the curators Simon Groom, Karen Smith and Xu Zhen and the artists Ai Weiwei, Cao Fei, Geng Jianyi, Gu Dexin, He An, Li Yongbin, Qiu Xiaofei, Qiu Zhijie, Wang Gongxin, Wang Peng, Wang Wei, Xu Zhen, Yang Fudong, Yangjiang Group, Yang Shaobin, Zhou Tiehai, Zhou Xiaohu and Zhuang Hui.

    Most of the works that comprise The Real Thing are shown here for the first time outside China or have been specially commissioned for this exhibition. The title, The Real Thing, can be taken literally as a clear sign that the exhibition is a faithful reflection of contemporary art in China today. There is sincerity in the works of many artists which was clearly lacking in the style of Cynical Realism of earlier generations. These predominantly young y artists, mostly based in Beijing and Shanghai, have chosen to remain in their country unlike many members of the generation that went before them. These artists are moving towards a self-confidence and maturity that arises from their understanding of the world today and the place China occupies in it, as well as an awareness of their own individual situation in society at a time of profound and rapid cultural change. The Real Thing can also be interpreted ironically, for humour and irony characterise a great deal of the art currently produced in China.

    The scale, variety and ambition of the pieces, which include some spectacular installations, are a token of these artists’ vivacity, energy, skill and imagination. The Real Thing is an exhibition organised by Tate Liverpool in collaboration with the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (IVAM).

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