Philip Tinari

  • HUANG YONG PING

    I MET HUANG YONG PING for the first time over lunch in Guangzhou one Saturday in October 2002. He arrived fresh from the emergency room, having cut his hand that morning while collaborating with a crew of metalworkers on his Bat Project II, a 1:1 facsimile of the cockpit and left wing of a US Navy surveillance plane that had unexpectedly landed on the island of Hainan after colliding with a Chinese fighter jet nineteen months earlier. The plane was to sit on the plaza in front of the Guangdong Museum of Art, part of the first edition of the Guangzhou Triennial. Huang had injured himself in vain:

  • “M+ Sigg Collection: Four Decades of Chinese Contemporary Art”

    WHEN SWISS COLLECTOR Uli Sigg donated the bulk of his holdings of contemporary Chinese art to the fledgling M+ in Hong Kong in June 2012, it was more than just another gift by a leading collector to his or her favored museum. Sigg’s largesse—he contributed 1,463 objects, valued at $170 million—instantly transformed M+ from an institution in planning into a global player. In the process, it canonized a list of artists whose previous successes had been mainly commercial, and enshrined a narrative of China’s recent art history as a dialectical push from the haze of the Cultural Revolution

  • the Gwangju Biennale and the Taipei Biennial

    IT HAS BECOME A COMMONPLACE to note that the fundamental tension of the biennial is between the local and the global, perhaps nowhere more than in the democratized reaches of East Asia, where such exhibitions were introduced in the 1990s, aiming both to examine regional culture and to propel their host nations into the international art world. But this initial impulse has recently matured. Gwangju (founded in 1995 in the dedicated Biennale Park to commemorate the casualties of the 1980 student uprising that upended the South Korean dictatorship) and Taipei (initiated as a series of periodic

  • “Thirty Years of Chinese Contemporary Art: The Moving Image in China 1988–2011”

    When the Minsheng Art Museum opened in April 2010, it offered viewers an authoritative thirty-year survey of contemporary Chinese painting (as one might expect to find on permanent display in a national museum here, but never does).

    When the Minsheng Art Museum opened in April 2010, it offered viewers an authoritative thirty-year survey of contemporary Chinese painting (as one might expect to find on permanent display in a national museum here, but never does). The Minsheng is now launching a second installment of its new-canon metanarrative, a survey of the moving image in China from its first appearance in this country as art, in 1988 (with 30 x 30 by Zhang Peili, in which he reassembles the fragments of a broken mirror), to the present, with recent works by Yang Fudong,

  • Namoc International Media Art Triennial 2011

    Ever since Jiang Zemin’s “Theory of the Three Represents” enshrined the pursuit of “advanced culture” as official dogma back in 2002, Chinese authorities have had a thing for media art.

    Ever since Jiang Zemin’s “Theory of the Three Represents” enshrined the pursuit of “advanced culture” as official dogma back in 2002, Chinese authorities have had a thing for media art. What could be more culturally advanced, after all, than high art made with new machines? In 2008, NAMOC’s “Synthetic Times” exhibition offered a sweeping survey of the genre to accompany the Beijing Olympics; three years on, museum director Fan Di’an and his New York–trained media art guru Zhang Ga are still at it, launching (what else?) a triennial of new-media art whose inaugural installment,

  • diary September 08, 2010

    10,000 Maniacs

    IN THE GROUND-FLOOR CAFÉ of Gwangju’s Biennale Hall one afternoon last week, a cipher lurked. Approaching the caffeine seekers, he waved the front page from a morning paper showing the opening of the dismal Art Gwangju fair the night before. “I am PHOTO in NEWSPAPER,” the man repeated to anyone willing or just compelled by basic etiquette to listen. David Weiss nodded politely at the crumpled sheet and turned back to explain to some admirers how it had actually been cheaper for five people to take a taxi than the train from Seoul after their connecting flight had been typhoon-canceled last night.

  • diary September 18, 2009

    Opening Salvo

    Shanghai

    ONE OF THE GREAT HISTORICAL CLICHÉS of roaring Shanghai has to do with the Japanese intrusion of the 1930s, when, as the story goes, the dance halls and jazz clubs of the Bund remained open even as the gunships launched rounds from the river into the city beyond. It’s less a story of decadence than of rote persistence, and one that seemed to resonate with last week’s string of art events centered, at least theoretically, on the third edition of ShContemporary, a fair born of the bubble and committed to hanging on for another year. Last Sunday morning, I soldiered down from Beijing to Shanghai

  • Haegue Yang

    Haegue Yang’s slatted shades are central to a distinctive sculptural vocabulary the artist has been tweaking for nearly two years.

    In case you were wondering, Haegue Yang’s venetian-blind installations at the Venice Biennale—in the Arsenale and again in the Korean pavilion—were not intended as a reference to the city. No, those slatted shades (in addition to lamps, heaters, audio equipment, and scent blasters) are central to a distinctive sculptural vocabulary the artist has been tweaking for nearly two years. That body of work, which arises from Yang’s poetic engagement with politically charged biographies, saw its high point in Yearning Melancholy Red (coproduced by the Walker and REDCAT in Los

  • diary August 01, 2009

    Eye for an Ai

    Tokyo

    POSTERS PRONOUNCING AI WEIWEI THE MOST EVOCATIVE CREATOR IN CONTEMPORARY CHINA greeted me as I alighted through the Roppongi subway station last Friday at the end of a long journey from New York, having arrived in Tokyo just in time for the opening of Ai’s exhibition “According to What?” at the Mori Art Museum. As I checked into my hotel and changed, I pondered whether evocative had been a last-minute substitution for provocative—the latter would have been appropriate given Ai’s recent troubles with the law—or whether Japanese English just skews toward these sorts of poetic declarations. As with

  • diary May 27, 2009

    Shanghaila Shanghailorum

    Shanghai

    PERHAPS BECAUSE DANIEL BIRNBAUM’S VENICE looms just around the corner, the pithy first sentence (borrowed from Borges) of his Chronology tended to linger over a weekend of openings in Shanghai: “I tend to return—eternally—to the Eternal Return.” For a chastened but ever-secure Chinese art scene in late spring, an opening of new (if somehow already familiar) work by Yang Fudong at Zendai MoMA seemed like a pretty good excuse for a get-together. The Post-Sense Sensibility gang flew down from Beijing; recent graduates and young faculty of Yang’s alma mater, the China Academy of Art, trained it in

  • Yan Pei-Ming

    Yan Pei-Ming’s clarion portraits of political and cultural celebrities have always fit awkwardly into the narrative of contemporary art in China. Subtitled “Nature and Innocents,” the exhibition will offer more than 150 new works by Yan (none on canvas), including murals and painted flags depicting Eastern landscapes and new-born babies, respectively.

    Yan Pei-Ming’s clarion portraits of political and cultural celebrities have always fit awkwardly into the narrative of contemporary art in China, perhaps mirroring the Shanghai-born artist’s own adjustment to Dijon, France, where he set up shop nearly three decades ago. His monochromatic Obama was a hit at last year’s Art Basel Miami, and his likeness of UCCA founders Guy and Myriam Ullens hangs steadfastly above the ticket counter of the museum, where this major show—only the artist’s second in China—will be presented. Subtitled “Nature and Innocents,” the

  • OPENINGS: CHU YUN

    CHU YUN’S “SOAP PIECE” became something of an improbable legend in the Chinese art world in 2008. This sculpture, actually titled Who Has Stolen Our Bodies?, consists of used bars of soap, collected from friends and acquaintances, arrayed atop a white plinth. Featured prominently in a number of recent exhibitions, the piece was in fact created in 2002 for an audience of a dozen at a private exhibition in a commercial photo studio in the southern city of Shenzhen, which then lacked the trappings of a contemporary art scene. When making the original piece, Chu saw his soap bars as “anti-monuments,”