Contemporary China’s art is expressive, astonishing and mysterious. Artistic works are dominated by fantastic realism, surrealism – all this at the same time is combined with traditional China’s cultural elements as well as it resists and rallies from political ideology. Cai Guo-Qiang, Chen Wenling, Zvang Huan, Ai Weiwei are the most famous Chinese contemporary art representatives.
Since ancient times, people has been focused on painting and calligraphy in China, however nowadays contemporary artists use more techniques than these two in their works. Artists’ creativity is reflected in chaotic sculptures, installations as well as mysterious photographs and performances. All these changes were influenced by the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). In 1982, some part of new generation artists, living during this period, decided to disassociate from the influence of dominant Western art, which, according to artists, was only driven by mechanical copying. These artists were seeking to create something new, which was able to unify theoretical modern Western art with traditional Chinese culture.
One of the first attempts to do this was in 1983, when Huang Jongping with his colleagues organised “Contemporary Exhibition by Five Artists” in his home in Siameny. The technique of this artist highly resembles to the technique of present day artist Guo-Qiang. Reliefs of exhibited sculptures are abstract, paintings are of expressionist style, when everything is mingled into one. In exhibitions of present-day contemporary art artist Guo-Qiang you may see an imitated car explosion, wolfs, tigers sculptures, which resemble to real animal images.
In 1994, when China’s economic reforms took place, the tremendous political pressure started. At this time, with ten other artists Zhang Huan conducted a performance “Adding one meter to an anonymous mountain” (1995); this performance was commemorated making pictures on the top of the mountain. It portrayed naked bodies, lying one on another. With the help of this performance, the artist tried to resist and fight against unjust reality and political regime.
Ai Weiwei is also a representative of contemporary art, who contributed to China’s contemporary art development in 1995-2000. He contributed in creating whitewash ceramic pots, which did not have any aesthetic. He was seeking to destroy pots’ traditional structure. He did the same with another piece of art – fragments. With these works artists demonstrate that they are going against the rules and in this way they abolish all boundaries between cultural differences.
Another artist is Chen Wenling, who is famous by his controversial sculptures. Usually his creations and works try to shock the audience. All sculptures are dominated by the image of boy and red colour, which represents not only traditional Chinese art but a worldview likewise. One of his famous works is called “A red boy”. This boy is depicted as naked and free, having nothing to hide. This work also reflects artist’s honesty in connection with the audience.
Artists from the ninth decade made a strong basis for the future development of China’s art. Since 2000, the number of exhibited contemporary art exhibitions has raised. The beginning of a new millennium was a time-period when artists were able to experiment, conduct performances, installations and go beyond all the rules.
Cai Guo-Qiang / caiguoqiang.com picture
Chen Wenling / artnet.com picture
Ai Weiwei / aiweiwei.com picture
Zhang Huan / zhanghuan.com picture