The ongoing thoughts of an art teacher in China - and home in Sydney

A continuing diary about my travels in China, and thoughts about China and Chinese art from home and abroad

Sunday, April 24, 2016

半 边 天 : Half the Beijing Sky Part 2

Ming City Wall Park, Beijing
 Blue sky continues, the air is fresh(ish), and trees are in green leaf everywhere you look. Three reasons to be cheerful in Beijing. Only the apocalyptic traffic today could put a dampener on my mood, the day after the big book launch and "Half the Sky" exhibition opening at Red Gate Gallery. The exhibition is causing a bit of a buzz around town, I hear, and I am hoping there will be at least a few people turn up for my talk tomorrow evening at the Beijing Bookworm. It seems that "Half the Sky" has hit some kind of zeitgeist - people are definitely interested, and warmly enthusiastic.

Half the Sky opens at Red Gate Gallery
How interesting that shows of women artists are in the news again, with Hauser and Wirth in LA re-writing the history of abstract sculpture in America in Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947 – 2016. Despite the apparent success of individual women - in that case Louise Bourgeois, or Lee Bontecou; in the Chinese context Cao Fei or Lin Tianmiao - they are still an absence in the larger narrative. The debate about the rightness or wrongness of all-women shows continues, and I must admit I had secret worries about whether it was a good strategy. But in the end, writing the book was a curatorial process, and an exhibition was a logical move.
Dong Yuan, Grandmother's Cabinet, installation view
When I began writing "Half the Sky" there were many anxious moments when I thought I must be mad. I continued to succumb to moments of doubt and despair throughout the process: was it a kind of hubris that made me think that I could - or should - write a book about artists in another culture, another language? But I really was determined to tell the story of this particular group of artists, representative in so many ways of the extraordinary phenomenon that is contemporary Chinese art.

Installing Gao Rong's "Sitting in a Chair and Thinking About My Future" - an armchair covered in embroidered mould, and lamp with knitted light rays
Installing Li Tingting works

Tao Aimin and Ma Yanling with Tao's "In an Instant" installation

In conversation with Lin Jingjing before the opening begins

  Visitors examining Dong Yuan's "Grandmother's Cabinet"

Tao Aimin, "In an Instant"

Brian Wallace, Red Gate director, with Xiao Lu and Guo Chen

With Dong Yuan

Gao Rong signs a copy of the book

Looking at Cui Xiuwen's "Existential Emptiness"

With Lin Jingjing

Brian Wallace introduces the Australian Ambassador at the opening

Australian Ambassador Jan Adams and a line-up of Chinese artists: 
L to R Zhou Hongbin, Cui Xiuwen, Li Tingting, Xie Qi, Jan Adams, Ma Yanling, myself, Bu Hua, Tony Scott, Bingyi, Xiao Lu, Lin Jingjing, Han Yajuan, Gao Ping. Not pictured: Gao Rong, Tao Aimin, Dong Yuan and Huang Yajuan