Lee Ambrozy

  • Xu Zhen: A Madein Company Production

    In 2009, Shanghai-based artist Xu Zhen founded MadeIn Company, trading his singular identity for a corporate brand. Now, for this sprawling survey, the bellicose prankster turns his given name into the moniker of a MadeIn subsidiary, staging recent installations and paintings by the company-cum-collective alongside earlier works from the artist-as-individual. Among the items on view: the disturbing Starving of Sudan, 2008—featuring an animatronic vulture monitoring a live child—and 8848-1.86, 2005, in which the artist, claiming to have shaved 1.86

  • Left: Artist Cai Guo-Aiang with Vivienne Tam. Right: Outside the Metropolitan Museum. (Except where noted, all photos: Lee Ambrozy)
    diary December 18, 2013

    Ink Tank

    ONE MET. MANY WORLDS. The Met’s slogan is emblazoned across Fifth Avenue over banners that cover its facade and the now under-construction Koch Plaza. The phrase heralds the museum’s globalist vision, but in Chinese characters it reads slightly different, roughly translating to: Visit the Met. See Multiculturalism. Last week, invoking the grand narrative of “Chinese tradition,” the arbiters of the world’s cultural heritage launched a provocative foray—the Met’s first major exhibition dedicated to contemporary Chinese works—with “Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China.”

    The title itself

  • Yu Youhan, 2009.05.27, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 96 1/2 x 81".

    Yu Youhan

    Yu Youhan is best known for his contributions to the 1990s painting movement known as “Political Pop,” but these works remain only one facet in the remarkably productive career of the now seventy-year-old painter. This exhibition put his influence in the ’90s in perspective by displaying a broad selection of Yu’s canvases dating from 1973 through 2012. In view of Yu’s more recent experiments with abstraction, his Political Pop style appears to be merely one stage in a developing mode of expression, one that repeatedly addresses the complex intertwining of political and artistic influence.


  • Lin Tianmiao, The Golden Mean, 2012, gold silk on panel, synthetic resin bones wrapped in gold thread, 15' 5 3/4“ x 6' 6 3/4”.

    Lin Tianmiao

    Lin Tianmiao’s works, gathered here in her first retrospective, flesh out her evolving relationship with organic fibers while revealing that the sophisticated and collective processes by which she produces her sculptures and installations has remained a relative constant. Curated by Melissa Chiu, the exhibition of fifteen pieces begins with the China-based artist’s earliest major pieces from the mid-1990s, which feature cotton threads inspired by memories of her childhood, and concludes with newer works in silks connoting luxury and wealth. Her practice revels in the various textures these

  • Hung Liu, Chinese Profile III, 1998, oil on canvas, 80 x 80”.

    “Summoning Ghosts: The Art Of Hung Liu”

    Hung Liu’s debut retrospective of more than eighty works will juxtapose her socialist-realist sketches from the 1970s, made while the artist was still living in China and at the height of the Cultural Revolution, with paintings realized since her immigration to the United States in 1984. Liu has an affinity for portraits—her luminous canvases drip with the likenesses of children, laborers, and the elderly, many depicted in timeless, ambiguous environments—and while her symbolism and pictorial narratives convey painterly reflections on a haunted past, her works

  • Left: Ai Weiwei's Forever Bicycles in the Hirshhorn lobby. Right: Mori Art Museum chief curator Mami Kataoka and Hirshhorn chief curator Kerry Brougher. (All photos: Lee Ambrozy)
    diary October 18, 2012

    Missing in Action

    THE UNSPOKEN RULE of social engagements in Beijing dictates that the most important guests on the list are those who are invited but who cannot come, because another, more important engagement keeps them away. At the recent opening of Ai Weiwei’s first US museum retrospective at the Hirshhorn, alas, the artist proved his importance by not being in attendance. Still stripped of his passport and unable to leave China, upcoming events across the East Coast were canceled, including a talk in defense of free speech at the PEN World Voices Festival and scheduled panels at Harvard’s Fairbank Center

  • Hu Xiangqian, Look Look Look, 2012, still from a color video, 4 minutes 40 seconds.
    picks August 03, 2012

    Hu Xiangqian

    At the core of Hu Xiangqian’s practice are his hypnotic performances, which reflect a vibrant sense of immediacy and humor. This is epitomized by his best-known work, Sun, 2008, a video of a two-month process during which the artist—nude and sporting cornrows—tanned himself to the darkest skin color he could attain. In this solo exhibition, three new works expand his breadth of narrative and visual complexity, notably adding a supporting cast.

    In The labor song I night, 2012, the artist performs a cappella with three hired actors, all clad in imitations of Prince William’s matrimonial Irish Guard

  • View of  “Jiang Zhi: If This Is a Man,” 2012.
    picks June 04, 2012

    Jiang Zhi

    Although based in Beijing, Jiang Zhi trained at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou and is associated with a generation of video artists (including Yang Fudong) who attended the school during the 1990s. In this midcareer retrospective, the notion of the artist’s ego as primary creative force is challenged through imaginative curatorial strategies. The exhibition consists of two smaller shows curated by the artist––a solo show of paintings by a childhood friend and a suite of photographs downloaded from the Internet––as well as a solo exhibition of works by Jiang and a minimuseum homage to the

  • Sui Jianguo, Blind Portrait, 2008, cast bronze, 16' 4 7/8“ x 6' 9” x 7' 6 1/2".

    Sui Jianguo

    Sui Jianguo’s oeuvre illustrates a common dilemma for artists of his generation, a kind of dissociative identity disorder (aka multiple personality disorder) in both theory and practice. Although not billed as a retrospective, this was a significant exhibition for Sui, who was born in 1956, succinctly presenting twenty-five years of artistic production and thereby opening a new vista on the contradictions and tensions in his work.

    The exhibition was filled with hints at a classical heroism, for instance in copies of Michelangelo’s Dying Slave and Bound Slave next to Sui’s reinterpretations, which

  • Left: Curator Pi Li with collector Hallam Chow. Right: Dealer Emmanuel Perrotin with actor Edison Chen. (Except where noted, all photos: Yangzi)
    diary May 22, 2012

    Days of Being Wild

    COMING FROM the Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale, just thirty minutes across the border, I crossed the gold ingot–shaped Victoria Harbor into Hong Kong Central, where all those luxury brands unaffordable in Beijing are suddenly in arm’s reach. Central is the only place I know where Bulgari, Gucci, and Chanel are not ostentatious but de rigueur. It’s an affluence mentality, but until recently prices for basic items were so high that residents would cross the northern border to buy household goods. Today, food safety issues, inflation, and luxury taxes have reversed the flow of commercial traffic, and

  • View of “Little Movements,” 2011.

    “Little Movements”

    “Little Movements: Self-Practice in Contemporary Art” is an ongoing project initiated by curator and critic Carol Yinghua Lu and her husband, curator and artist Liu Ding. Because the endeavor encompasses so many ideas simultaneously and has appeared in many incarnations, ranging from artworks to publications to exhibitions, its concept is perhaps best approached in terms of what it is not. The “Little Movements” of the title are not political movements, nor are they mini art movements. The practices referred to are not linked by a common ideology, and the curators don’t attempt to draw parallels

  • Pavel Büchler, Report on Damage (Poster), 2011, silk screen on paper, 70 7/8 x 47 1/4". From “My Communism: Poster Exhibition.”

    Lee Ambrozy

    1 “My Communism: Poster Exhibition” (TOP Contemporary Art Center, Shanghai; curated by Yang Zhenzhong, Zhou Xiaohu, Xu Zhen, Jin Feng, Lu Xinghua, Ding Li, Shi Qing, and Philippe Pirotte) The title of this show was left out of press releases, lest it raise eyebrows, but the articulation of “My Communism” was clear in the 128 posters, by some fifty artists, that filled the repurposed factory and enormous white gallery of TOP in suburban Shanghai. Created by Chinese and international participants alike, the designs speak to experiences of living under socialism and engage in a range of social