Version Flash | Chinese version


Contemporary Chinese Art- another kind of view

DSL Collection

< Back
online since  2008-09-23
An Artistic View of Beijing to Moscow

Chinese Contemporary Socart
Russian Contemporary Sotsart
Date:Mar.2nd.2007 - Apr.15th.2007
Venue:The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russi

An Empire in Distance
I have flied by over Moscow a number of times since I traveled to the West in 1992. However, flying by from such a height prevented me from even obtaining a clear view of it. If it were not for the coverage of the Chinese Contemporary Social Art Exposition hosted by Modern Gallery of the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, I would not have chosen to go there in late February. Despite its first warm winter brought about by the global warming impact, the sky remained in grey, keeping me in melancholy. When returning to Beijing, at airport, I couldn't help remarking, Moscow owes a blue sky to me.

Before departure from Beijing, I had searched some bookstores there for Guide to Moscow. To my disappointing, there were travel guides to lots of countries and places, simply without Guide to Moscow, which revealed that the old empire had faded far away from us.

Those who know something about Russia's history are aware of his hugeness. When setting feet on what was once the empire striding over Europe and Asia, historical scenes seemed to appear in piles before me. Russia possessed coveted territory and resources, which induced repeated invasions by European powers. These powers made attempts to exploit it, the world number one "whale" in size, but ended up with failure. As a result, we saw the Triumphal Arch and the Victory Monument, signs of the victories, in Moscow.

Lenin and Dada
Red Square, the symbol of revolution cradles, is where thecommunist leader, Lenin, was buried. However, few know how Lenin and Dadaism were related. I learned from a Japanese book dealing with the ties between Lenin and Dada that Lenin was a member of the Zurich Dadaism Team before his return to Imperial Russia and he accepted Dadaism. Now we could see that, to Lenin, recognition of Dadaism should be valued little more important than Marxism. The difference lies in that Lenin chose the land where imperial Russia founded its empire instead of paper and drawing canvas as his test base. Therefore, I claimed Lenin as Social Dadaist. Small as Lenin was, he was an unprecedented prayer of revolution, whose gestures and dressing became symbols of revolutionaries. Lenin's grave is situated at the Red Square, at the foot of the red wall against Kremlin. I joined the ever-long queue that come tovisit the tomb of Lenin and pay their late respect to Lenin, arevolutionary vanguard and anti-tradition Dadaist.

The Youth of Werther
Although Moscow was the place I longed for visiting when I was only a little child, the first time I bought books with my own savings in the bookstore soon after leaving elementary school, I chose to get first of all a copy of the Nine Commentaries (public letters to the Soviet Communist Party) with the 9 RMB.

In the course of Cultural Revolution, all that was available to me was a Soviet magazine "the Artist", whose oil paintings in color pages became the models for me to practice on. If I happened to borrow an oil painting collection of scenery by Levitan, I would get touched with the Youth Enthusiasm of Werther. The Soviet paintings enlightened me, which accounted for my earnest visit to Moscow.

The original works of impressionism I appreciated in Pushkin Museum, especially those by Gauguin, Cezanne and Corot, were exhibited in such an ordinary museum, which stimulated indeed our admiration for the boldness and foresight of Russian collectors. Chinese entrepreneurs have relatively contributed far less to art.

Mayakovski - A Shooting Star
It was lucky that I got a copy of A Guide to Russia's Architecture through express mailing urgently, which was a detailed guide book and, without even uttering a single word, instructed me to learn Russian architecture and art.

I began with the Mayakovski Museum£¬which is located at one side of the famous KGB Building. In a rainy day, I came to the museum. A head sculpture is the most striking feature around the entrance, with the eyes staring forward and the head hard, like a rocket ready to take off.

Although there were no visitors then, I believed that all who came here would get shocked for the entire exhibition seemed to be integrated by some special arrangements.I didn't know Mayakovski's influential force in literature and art and as a model artist in Russia. He impressed me with nothing more than his ladder-like lines of poem.

And now I realized that Mayakovski was a shooting star over Russia, which would never meet with the earth.

He lived for only 37 years. Though he stated in his will, My death has nothing to do with anybody, ties were formed between him and some unpredictable others.

Beijing - Moscow
In the bookshop at the Mayakovski Museum in Moscow, a red-cover picture album with movable pages drew my attention, which was marked in both Russian and Chinese with Moscow-Beijing, Beijing-Moscow. This was a display of the Sino-Russian friendship, to be exact, a display of the Sino-Soviet honey moon.

And today Chinese art and artists gathered in Moscow, resuming the relationship after a breakdown of half a century. During the Russia's International Art Biennial Exposition, the Modern Division of Tretyakov Gallery sponsored a Chinese Modern Social Art Exhibition, which was a historic reunion.

Chinese modern art has achieved extraordinary accomplishments. You may deny any outside force pushing it forward, butMaksimov's teaching oil painting techniques in 1950s in China Central Academy of Fine Arts, a symbol of Sino-Russian friendship, could never be erased. Whether it is Political Pop Art or Cynical Realism, they were both derived from Chinese Painting Realism and were brothers. It's true that Chinese Modern Art gained renewed strength in its development from American Rauschenberg exhibition. The history of the 20th century art is an integrated one, in which realism painting has ever helped along with the advance of the society. It is right here that Chinese modern art shares overlap with ex-Soviet art in form, not merelyin political but in social art, owing to their similar social system.

A Show of Russia's Social Art
This time we had seen a joint Russian Social Art Exposition, which was mighty and seemed to be a show of the artworks by Russian artists, home or abroad, for 50 years. A lot of Russian artists who were on exile or are on sojourn overseas came back to Moscow to attend the gathering, which helped us understand the significance of the Russian Contemporary Social Art Exposition. We had perceived that works in the exposition, attended by over 100 Russian artists, had a solid foundation. As for the awe-provoking part, it was the very non-commercial test value.

Andrei Erofeev, an expo designer, remarked that he could barely tackle the Soviet-era art because in comparison with the Soviet art 15 years ago, the contemporary art is totally different. Contemporary artists are living in an era of pure individualism.

Then what's "Social Art"? The question was subtly answered byAndrei Erofeev, an expo designer, "It's a smart way of tricks", which is virtually a means of softening or shaping the society and system.

Art in a Similar System
It's rather thought-provoking that China and Russia assumed a parallel position in the exhibition of "social art", for they have ever maintained a similar ideology and system. Art in a same system sustains naturally resemblances, which is revealed by the fact that, in the Russian Social Art Expo, the image of Lenin, sometimes that of Stalin, abounded to appear and in the Chinese Social Art Expo, works with the image of Mao Zedong predominate, focusing on post-Lenin & Mao Zedong age. Whether they are satirical, referential, tricky, enlightening or even demonized, they haven't shaken off the ghost of the leading men. One more resemblance is illustrated by Kremlin in Russia and Tian An Men Square in China, the landmark buildings.

It could be hence perceived that in countries of strong ideology, artistic themes are profoundly influenced by the leaders, especially the founding fathers. When approached from the view of fashion, it is the social revolution that created the unprecedented vogue in its age, which continued its impact on commodity economy after the revolution. The Chinese Contemporary Art today is a case in point.

Chinese Contemporary Art in Moscow
While the Russian artworks played a resolutely dominant role in the exhibition in quantity, the Chinese ones were shown in an overall red place, whose color is reminiscent of red walls of the Kremlin, enhancing the color effect of the paintings. Although we Chinese are particularly fond of the color of red, no one has originally thought of adopting red as the background color for dangling works of art.

Despite the fact that Andrei Erofeev made Chinese contemporary art part of the Social Art Exposition, he had previously known nothing about Chinese modern art. But he had certainly learned something of its worldwide impact. The organizing committee of the ongoing International Art Biennial Exhibition hoped to hold a contemporary exhibition with the presence of Chinese artists. The committee considered it as a peripheral exposition, but in fact it even outweighed the main part.

Andrei said, "We got to know Chinese art from the old generation and it's the first time we have approached it. It's the first step forward because we knew little about it before. It impressed me deeply, enjoyably and indicated exchanges of the two countries in art." His comment signaled the interruption of exchanges in art of China and Russia for half a century. Andrei reckoned that the exhibited Chinese works of art could represent the current level of Chinese contemporary art.

Then Chinese involvement for the first time in the exhibition at the State Tretyakov Gallery is by all means a historic event, which resulted from the great efforts of Chinese artists along with China's prosperity.

Besides, without the efforts of Cheng Xindong, a renowned expo designer and art agent, the exhibition of Chinese art could have been impossible because Russia, being on no account the ex-Soviet Union, maintained an operating system identical to that of the ex-Soviet Union.