Philip Tinari

  • “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,”

  • “The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860–1989”

    “The Third Mind” looks to subvert the narrative of cultural influence’s one-way flow from West to East by focusing on how artists, writers, and filmmakers in the United States have consistently drawn on “Asian” (mainly Japanese, Chinese, and Indian) artistic traditions and religious practices.

    “The Third Mind” looks to subvert the narrative of cultural influence’s one-way flow from West to East by focusing on how artists, writers, and filmmakers in the United States have consistently drawn on “Asian” (mainly Japanese, Chinese, and Indian) artistic traditions and religious practices. Curator Alexandra Munroe arranges more than 200 works into seven roughly chronological sections, beginning with pieces by Mary Cassatt and John La Farge, among others, and ending with the likes of Meredith Monk and Bill Viola. The show’s title, referencing a 1965 work by William

  • Zhang Xiaogang

    Back in the 1970s, even before he entered the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, Zhang Xiaogang began painting his way through newly circulating Western styles, including Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, and Surrealism.

    Back in the 1970s, even before he entered the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, Zhang Xiaogang began painting his way through newly circulating Western styles, including Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, and Surrealism. Scarred by his mother’s schizophrenia, his father’s disdain, and his own alcoholism, Zhang spent the high tide of the early-’80s New Wave in a hospital bed, emerging with a series of sketches in a style that would foreground his signature “Bloodlines” series (1993–2003) of Socialist-era family portraits. Drawing extensively from the artist’s own

  • the 2008 Gwangju Biennale, Singapore Biennale 2008, and 3rd Yokohama Triennale

    THIS PAST FALL, with the consecutive openings of six “Asian biennials,” the deliquescent 1990s and early-2000s trend toward establishing new large-scale exhibitions in increasingly far-flung locales bore fruit, such as it is. And as might have been anticipated, these shows were also attended by the repeatedly aired critiques that such efforts do little more than adapt a late-nineteenth-century model of display to newly ascendant societies; and, further, serve as highbrow smoke screens cynically deployed in the service of nationalist political regimes, neoliberal economic interests, or narrow

  • Philip Tinari

    PHILIP TINARI

    1 ”Wu Shanzhuan: Red Humor International” (Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China) As the first major solo exhibition of the most overlooked Chinese conceptualist—and especially as the first substantive retrospective of a living artist’s work organized by a state museum along curatorial and institutional imperatives—this show was a milestone. Organized by Gao Shiming, Ching Tsong-zung, and Guo Xiaoyan, it included long-term textual projects such as Things’ Rights (a witty, analytic rewriting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights); collages evoking the migratory

  • diary August 08, 2008

    A Separate Pace

    Beijing

    Wardrobe anxieties ran high on the morning Pace Beijing opened its twenty-two-thousand-square-foot space in the capital’s Factory 798 Art District. “Are you wearing high heels?” Beijing gallerinas queried one another over MSN Messenger. “Are short sleeves OK for a Beijing opening in summer?” came an SMS from a Gagosian lieutenant. “Can we bring our two-year-old?” asked a New York Sun journalist in town to cover the Games. Seemingly silly dilemmas, questions like these actually cut to the pulsating heart of this pre-Olympic moment: Were we to regard last Saturday’s event as we would a happening

  • diary July 18, 2008

    Shanghai Express

    Shanghai

    In recent years, the foreign-gallery opening in China has developed into a complex ritual with its own unique social lexicon. Who can forget Galleria Continua’s 798 debut back in 2005, leaving Beijing awash in prosciutto, pecorino, and Chen Zhen installations? Or Galerie Faurschou’s dinner last November for the absent but still-living Rauschenberg, whose work opened their Beijing space, under a rented tent and catered by the Chinese capital’s lone Michelin-certified chef? Pace Beijing originally scheduled its China debutante ball for the Day of the Aligning Eights (8-8-08), to coincide with that

  • diary March 18, 2008

    Shopper's Paradise

    Hong Kong

    There are many minor cities in China with populations of six or seven million, so perhaps it is natural that Hong Kong always feels like a small town. A tiny circle of storied capitalists and their socialite spawn sits at the center of a node in the global economy unlike any other. The local art scene does nothing better than organize panel discussions about its own shortcomings. Vague apparitions of the future—stalled plans for the West Kowloon Cultural District, a controversial Herzog & de Meuron design for an arts district amid a redeveloped police station and prison compound in Central—play

  • ORIGINAL COPIES: THE DAFEN OIL PAINTING VILLAGE

    AS A CITY, SHENZHEN was almost literally painted into existence. In 1979, “Deng Xiaoping drew a circle”—or so goes the cliché immortalized in an early-’80s pop song—around a fishing village abutting Hong Kong, and proclaimed a zone of free markets for a China then beginning to awaken from its socialist reverie. Nearly thirty years later, it is a site of production on a most extraordinary scale, and the locus of a unique urban condition only possible in a place where the average resident is even younger than the fledgling city itself. Its factories turn out everything from pharmaceuticals to air

  • diary September 16, 2007

    Power Trip

    Shanghai

    About halfway into a night of gallery openings last week, on the eve of the ShContemporary art fair’s vernissage, a power failure throughout 50 Moganshan Road left VIPs fresh from Pudong airport and Shanghai scenesters alike to commingle in the late summer drizzle. It was one of those moments that seems to manifest an unspoken collective angst percolating just below the surface of daily goings-on. Is it possible, one implicitly wondered, that the whole shimmering Chinese art scene could go dark without warning or apology?

    Of course, the lights came right back on in the warehouses along the banks