Click here for help on searching.
TIP: If you plan on making multiple searches, you might wish to make a bookmark for this page.

About UsTraditionalBookShopHomePage

Magazine|

Beijing Exhibitions   Table of Contents
Story: Performance by Maizi(June 2001)
'Clues to the Future' Red Gate Gallery 10th Anniversary Exhibition (July 14th to August 29th, 2001)
Mud Nature of Qualitative Change (July 18th - 27th, 2001)
Condition: Art Performance by You Tao (07/17/2001)
'Cure (Liao)'Performances by Dang.com and Glorious Pharmacy (6/30/2001)
To Each His Own: Exhibition of 8 Artists (July 7 - 13 2001)
Wang Yin: Recent Paintings (July 8 - August 19 2001)
Human Scenery - Four Views (13 May - 24 June 2001)
"Beijing, I Want..." Performance by Ya Liang (December 31 2000)
Great Wall People An Event by HA Schult (May 18 - June 3 2001)
'Reflection' Works by Yide'er (June 2 - 8, 2001)
Reinventing the Images and Signs (6/9 - 17/2001)
Opening Art Exhibition (5/19 - 5/30/2001)
'Interface 5' Painting Exhibition (5/26 - 5/30/2001)
A Sight from Afar (5/28 - 6/28/2001)
Red Hot (5/12 - 6/17/2001)
'Clues to the Future'
Red Gate Gallery 10th Anniversary Exhibition
Date: July 14th to August 29th, 2001
Venue: Red Gate Gallery, Beijing.

The Gates of Modern Taste
by Jo Lusby
article courtesy of City Weekend magazine http://www.66cities.com/

Ten years ago, artists couldn't live by art alone. Now contemporary Chinese painters are beginning to take their place on the international arena, thanks in part to the Beijing space that showed it - the Red Gate Gallery

"The way westerners look at our art is different to how we Chinese look at it ourselves," explains artist Qi Zhilong. "So Chinese artists have to be aware of western values of aesthetics. What we put up for sale is largely what we know westerners understand."

As one of China's most successful - read saleable - contemporary artists, Qi should know. As recently as ten years ago, Chinese contemporary art was seldom seen and even more rarely purchased. Beijing's artists had no formal gallery to show or sell their paintings in, and nobody was interested in buying. "The market for modern art really started in 1992," recalls Qi. "And the Red Gate arrived at the right time."

Red Vanguard
The Red Gate Gallery has come a long way since it first opened its doors in July 1991. Housed on the ground and top floors of the cavernous Ming Dynasty Watchtower on the southern stretch of Beijing's crumbling city walls, the gallery was Beijing's first privately-run contemporary art gallery, opened to provide a space where bright young artists could show the most cutting edge modern art. "The ground floor was taken up with an exhibition of the local rock collectors society," recalls Brian Wallace, Red Gate founder, glancing down at an area now filled with contemporary art sculptures.

But aside from lofty artistic aims, the gallery also had to make enough money in order to survive, and that was never a certainty. At that time, the only other contemporary art gallery was the now-defunct Concert Hall Gallery, and Wallace initially opened the Red Gate on the prayer that it would be able to pay its own way for a couple of years, at most. "It was very early days for commercial activity," recalls Wallace. "And it was early days for the contemporary art scene, in terms of people's appreciation and interest, and in terms of the political situation."

There was essentially no commercial interest among the local Chinese in the modern art being produced. The overwhelming majority of buyers were from the ex-pat diplomat/journalist community, and this had a necessary impact on what was being produced. "The art scene then was more focused on the embassies and their tastes," explains Robert Bernell from art portal Chinese-art.com. "And that made it less dynamic, less plural."

Stylistically, the contemporary art of the early '90s was Cynical Realist. Distorted images were suffused with a sense of boredom, and the subject matter was very inward, exploring the artistic medium rather than any transcendent spirituality. "At that time, I only worked in black and white," says artist Wang Yuping. "The general feel was one of depression." One of the foremost contemporary painters at the time, Wang's style gradually changed into his current (more optimistic) trademark theme of brightly colored fish images.

Almost all artists were forced to find regular day jobs in order to support themselves, and pursue their own art in the evenings. "The only option for art graduates then was to become art teachers," recalls Qi, who now lives off the sales of his oil paintings alone. "Either that or editors. That way you could still work towards the purpose of becoming an artist one day."

Floodgates
"Nowadays, probably about one in ten artists don't need to get another job," says artist Lu Peng, himself starting out and still punching the time clock at a Beijing art college. As rapid economic development swept China into the 21st century, though, foreign art markets and a growing international community in major cities broadened horizons and increased the salability of pictures. Buyers in Hong Kong and further a field started zoning in on the art coming out of China, and a breath of optimism swept through the art scene.

"They're describing the changes that have been going on in the society for fifteen years," says Wallace. "As they've grown up, and matured, they've been a part of it, not just observers. Years ago, (the artists) just tried everything that had been done in the west. Now, they're more confident in the range of materials they use, and confident in what they want to express."

"There are people in their forties and fifties who are doing very good work that is coming across as international," Wallace explains. "It's not 'Chinese International' work, which was how it used to be described." International, but not big bucks. Artists like Fang Lijun and Cai Guoqing are considered to be the aristocrats of the market, with price tags of between US$25,000 and US$100,000.

But this is peanuts when compared with other market sales. "A couple of weeks ago, Georgia O'Keeffe's painting of a flower was sold for US$16 million at auction in the States," contextualises Bernell. "If you were to take that US$16 million and collect Chinese contemporary art, you could buy every single major work, by every single major artist, from now until ten years into the future, and still have enough money left to build a museum. You can buy one painting, or a generation."

Trendspotting
It's this generation that the Red Gate aims to represent in its ten-year anniversary show, Clues to the Future. Some of the biggest names in contemporary art - including Sui Jianguo, Wan Huangxiang, Su Xinping, as well as Qi Zhilong and Wang Yuping - will be represented, all artists with international recognition who have formed the mainstay of art over the last ten years. Alongside these sit exhibits from bright young things, including painter Lu Peng and installation artist Shi Zhongyin.

"I had a bit of a sense of humor when I was making the works," says Sui Jianguo of his installation Made in China. The show's centerpiece, the exhibit takes the form of a group of three-meter-tall pink dinosaurs with 'Made in China' stamped on their torsos. The pieces were carried up the historic steps to the gallery under the cover of dark, at an hour when regulations allowed the trucks inside Beijing's city limits, and minor repairs were necessary on some of the prehistoric creatures' extremities after their arduous journey.

"I discovered that almost all the toy dinosaurs in the world are made in China," Sui explains. "Ten years ago, they were all made in Taiwan and Thailand. Twenty years ago, it was Japan and Korea. To my mind, the dinosaurs represent the ancient and increasingly powerful nature of China - partly from the business of manufacturing cheap toys."

Implicit in running a commercial gallery, and a successful one to boot, comes a charge that the works on show are produced for a consumer market rather than for the sake of art. "The things that sell best will always be the most popular, cheesy art," says Lu Peng.

That as may be, but Wallace defends the artistry of the pieces he shows in the Red Gate. "They are distinctive, and genuinely creative," he asserts. "Whether they sell or not is a secondary consideration. Some of them do not sell very well, or at all... (but) the good sellers help to carry the slower ones. All of them contribute greatly to the gallery, and a sales record is not used to measure that contribution." But sell, on the whole, they probably will. "There is an emerging, and growing, market for modern art in China," says Robert Bernell of Chinese-art. "As I understand it, at the last Shanghai Art Fair almost 50% of the sales went to local buyers."

The future also looks good for the Red Gate - the local government plans to raze the apartment blocks from the Watchtower across to the railway station, and create a public park around one of the last remaining sections of city walls, raising the profile of the site from its present position beside a flyover. The artist, for now, have more mundane concerns for the future: "I'll know I've made it when one of my pictures sells for US$100,000 in America," laughs Qi.

Clues to the Future, Red Gate Gallery at the Watchtower, Dongbianmen, Beijing, until August 29. Check http://www.redgategallery.com/ for more details


Qin Yifeng
"Linefield Series #381"
Installation: painted wood panels
2001



Wang Yuping
"The New Eight Banners"
Oil on canvas
2001



Wang Yuping
"The New Eight Banners"
Oil on canvas
2001



Wang Huaxiang
"Mirror"
Oil on canvas
2001


Shi Zhongying
"Homage to Giacomatti"
Sculpture: wire mesh
2001


Wang Huaxiang
"Human Being"
Oil on canvas
2001


Sui Jianguo
"Made in China"
Sculpture: fiberglass
1999


Sheng Qi
"Digestion"
Oil on canvas
2001


Li Xiao
"Child Warrior"
Oil on canvas
2001


Guan Wei
"Horoscope No. 8"
Oil on board
2000


Lu Peng
"Capital Night"
Oil on canvas
2001


Qi Zhilong
"Good Girl"
Oil on canvas
2001


Qin Yifeng
"Linefield Series #381"
Installation: painted wood panels
2001


Tan Ping
"Untitled"
Colored paper
2001


Han Congwu
"Beheaded Emissary"
Color photograph
1997



Qin Yifeng
"Linefield Series #379"
Oil on canvas
2001



Wang Lifeng
"Ancient Palace #8"
Mixed media, oil on canvas
2001



Liu Qinghe
"I'm Here"
Ink on paper
2001



Li Gang
"Untitled"
Sculpture
2000



Liu Qinghe
"Safe Zone"
Ink on paper
2001


Zhang Hongbo
"Peephole"
Oil on canvas
2001


He Sen
"Boy with Stuffed Toy"
Oil on canvas
2001


Liu Manwen
"Soliloquy Liu Manwen"
Oil on canvas
2001


Liu Fei
"Taking Your Photo"
Oil on canvas
2001


Su Xinping
"Holiday #7"
Oil on canvas
2001


He Sen
"Boy with Stuffed Toy"
Oil on canvas
2001

 

To receive Chinese-art.com
e-bulletin, leave email here:

 
Chinese-art.com
Screensavers!
Download Now!
 
     
 
From the Edge of Beyond: Artists Probe the Mundane and the Horrific
by Britta Erickson
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 
Racing through Forbidden Territory: 'Sex' in the Work of China's Female Artists
by Liao Wen
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 
Mundane and Profound
by Yi Ying
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Back Issues 2001 (Volume 4)

Issue 2 Edited by Wang Nanming
Criticism of Current Trends

Issue 1 Edited by Wu Meichun
China's New Media Art

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Back Issues 2000 (Volume 3)

Issue 6 Editedby Zhu Qi
Shanghai Biennale


Issue 5 Edited by Wu Hung
Experimental Exhibitions


Issue 4
Edited by Britta Erickson
Cultural Revolution


Issue 3
Edited by Yin Shuangxi
Contemporary Sculpture


Issue 2
Edited by Huang Du
'Post-Material'

Issue 1
Edited by Wang Lin Conceptual Art

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Back Issues 99 (Volume 2)
Issue 6 Edited by Hou Hanru
Beyond the Chinese


Issue 5
Edited by Pi Daojian/Pi Li
Ink and Wash Political Art


Issue 4
Edited by Francesca Dal
Lago Venice Biennale '99


Issue 3
Edited by Zhu Qi
Cultural Issues


Issue 2
Edited by Li Xianting
Art since the mid 90s


Issue 1
Edited by Yi Ying/Ai Weiwei
Views on the CCAA

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Back Issues 98

Issue 5
Edited by Leng Lin
Nine Chinese Artists

Issue 4
Edited by Yang Xiaoyan
Art in Guangzhou


Issue 3
Edited by Yi Ying
'Bad Painting'


Issue 2
Edited by Liao Wen
Feminist Values and Art


Issue 1
Edited by Leng Lin
The China Dream

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Archives
Links
About Us




Copyright © 2000 New Art Media Ltd. and artists. All rights reserved.
This page may only be reproduced, stored or transmitted, in any form or by any means,
with the prior permission in writing of New Art Media Limited.
Please send comments, suggestions, questions to: editor@chinese-art.com