Fifteen contemporary Chinese artists, including Ban Lei, Gu Wenda, Pan Xi, Qiu Anxiong, Qiu Zhijie, Sun Liang, Wang Dongling, Wang Lihua, Wu Jianan, Xu Bing, Xu Cong, Xu Min, Xu Min, Yang Yongliang, Yu Hong, Yuan Yuan, and Zheng Chongbin will display several of their works at MoCA Shanghai as part of the museum’s new exhibition, Shanshui Within. The works will provide viewers with the artists’ unique interpretations of traditional Chinese culture and how it evolved as a result of the rapid development of society, not only illuminating the emotions and state of the modern era but also providing assistance in the search for lingering traces of Chinese tradition.
While it may bear the title “Shanshui Within” (with “Shanshui” referring to mountains and waters), neither the landscape commonly portrayed in ancient Chinese paintings and scrolls nor the development of new ink and wash in a modern context or far-fetched connections between contemporary art and traditional ink painting will be put on display. Waters and mountains will instead be featured as a poetic representation, a spiritual refuge from worldly life, a channel for Chinese people to communicate with the universe, and a hometown for every delicate, untutored, and loyal Chinese heart. Contrary to Western aesthetics, Chinese artists, ancient and contemporary alike, engage themselves in a dialogue with nature with an air of grandeur, simple elegance, and deep introspection. They are also able to express an object’s shape, brightness, and texture in a variety of artistic forms and styles thanks to their insights from astronomical observations and geographical surveys. The way that these artists transmit the messages pouring out from their own egos, blending internal mental subjects with the external physical world, shall therefore be the primary focus of this upcoming and awaited event.
Serving as an outlook between contemporary and historical art and a reflection between the macro and personal world, Shanshui Within hopes to display the kaleidoscopic contemporary art world along with its creative approaches. With an assembly of works by artists of many ages who use numerous mediums and express in diverse formats, the exhibition will reveal the transformations and connections between artistic practices from different eras through the concepts of various subjects, types of imagery, landscapes, mediums, and observations. This, in turn, allows for the subtle instinct and infinite imagination portrayed in the artwork to present in full the undefined reflection, interaction, and intermingling of Chinese tradition and contemporary art.
The ultimate goal of this exhibition is for the works to move beyond the restrictive enclosures of museums and find themselves on display within schools and communities as part of the “Art Momentum” project, which aims to bring contemporary art to the people. This is based on the portable museum concept brought forth by Marcel Duchamp in his work Boîte-en-valise, and MoCA’s intent, as suggested by its mission “Art for the People’s Sake”, for the public to have more direct and up-close access to multifaceted art.