Saturday, July 01, 2006

Review: "On the Edge"

Yesterday I had the chance to go and check out the IMA's newest exhibition, "On the Edge: Contemporary Chinese Artists Encounter the West". While not the most engaging of exhibitions as a whole, it is a wonderful sampling of what all is going on in contemporary Chinese art. This show has everything from paintings, prints, video, sculpture, performance documentation, and installation art. It was nice to see such a variety of styles and works within the show and I have now found a couple new artists to add to my ever growing list of artists to keep my eye on. One of these artists is Sui Jianguo, whose piece is pictured at here. On display, the artist had 5 of these wonderfully playful sculptures of a large red dinosaur toy with the embossed words on its chest "Made in China". Each of these sculptures were a bit more than 2 feet high and each standing on its own pedestal. Giant toys? They speak volumes. Though I have not seen one in person, Sui Jianguo also makes these large painted resin pieces as big as 10 feet tall. Imagine coming across one of those while walking along the Virginia Fairbanks Art and Nature Park. I would just love it.

Another stand out piece for me was a large three paneled airbrush painting of an old WWII era bomber flying over water by the artist Zhou Tiehai. Instantly I connect this image to similar works by Gerhard Richter and Vija Celmins. Like theirs, this piece is beautiful and full of possible narrative and a since of nostalgia and worry, while at the same time tranquil and calm. Of the paintings in the show, I liked this piece the most.

From suits of meat, stamped texts on live mating pigs, and suitcased city views, this show has a bit for everyone. And while some of the works in the show are dealing with issues central to Chinese artists others are dealing with issues of a more personal or broader global nature. It is nice to see this grouping of work and I think it will be worth your time to check it out while it is here. Oh, and does anyone else want to see those stamped pigs in an exhibition with Wim Delvoye's tattooed pigs? What a sight that would be, despite the smell.

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