China! Das Kunstmuseum Bonn Zeigt's

Kunstmuseum Bonn

China! Das Kunstmuseum Bonn Zeigt’s” (China! Kunstmuseum Bonn shows it) was the first comprehensive exhibition of work by young Chinese painters to appear in the West. The Chinese ambassador to Germany refused to attend the opening, suggesting that the works “insulted” China. In his catalogue essay—a text that serves as a first-rate piece of documentation and analysis of the cultural situation in China—Chinese critic Li Xianting explains how the “cynical realism” of the works critiques the “boredom” and often the “tragedy of life” in China. Surrealism and Pop art are reconceived to make a psychopolitical statement, in effect to blowtorch a hole through the Chinese iron curtain. Similarly, Soviet-style socialist realism, having been surrealized and Popified, is turned against itself, as in Wang Qiang’s ironically decorative images of money.

Collectively the works suggested that a sense of

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